Nearly two years after Volvo introduced the XC60 small off-roader, the brand has now added an R-design model to the range.

Adding sportier suspension for a better driving experience, a body styling kit and more interior equipment, the new model is expected to take on the higher specification versions of the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

Priced from £29,495 the R-design is available with a choice of three engines the 175PS 2.4D, new 205PS D5 and the fleet-frightening 285PS T6.

While the suspension hasn’t been lowered (because Volvo wanted to maintain ground clearance) it is stiffer and the steering is tweaked, resulting in better body control in the corners.

To give the car a sportier look, the R-design features twin chromed rear exhausts, new 18-inch alloys plus styling tweaks including a rear skid-plate.

We drove the new 205PS D5 engined car with auto gearbox, which is expected to be the most popular R-design model but comes in at a hefty 199g/km, which will unfortunately immediately see it deleted from many choice lists now limited to 160g/km for environmental and tax reasons. However, fleets can opt for a front-drive, manual Driv-e version of the XC60 R-design which comes in below 160g/km and returns more than 47mpg on the combined cycle.

Volvo XC60 205PS 2.4 D5 R-design SE auto
P11D price £33,765
Model price range £26,495-£37,245
Fuel consumption 37.7mpg
CO2 (tax) 199g/km (30%)
BIK 20/40% per month £168/£337
Service interval 18,000mls
Insurance group 15
Warranty 3yrs/60,000mls
Boot space (min/max) 495/1455 litres
Engine size/power 2400cc/205PS
Top speed/0-62mph 127mph/8.9secs
On sale January 2010
Score 8/10
Verdict Our favourite small
off-roader is now even better to drive