Volvo has launched a new R-Design version of its V40, with a host of upgrades that improve the dynamic looks and sportiness of its new compact hatchback.

The upgrades do little to detract from the V40’s smooth good looks, adding a slightly more aggressive road presence to match its already dynamic nature.

While the visual upgrades are more than welcome, we’re more interested in the introduction of a 250bhp T5 version, powered by Volvo’s five-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.

The unique R-Design front features a silk-metal framed high-gloss grille with re-profiled front bumper and daytime running lights. The sporty stance is further enhanced with an ironstone rear diffuser, silk-metal finished details and twin exhaust tailpipes.

The five-spoke diamond-cut wheels (standard with 17″ or upgraded as an option to 18″) complete the R-Design’s stylish, dynamic look.

Inside, the V40 features embossed R-Design leather/T-Tec upholstery, TFT instrument display, sports steering wheel, sports pedals and unique aluminium inlays. This can be upgrade further to the R-Design Lux which includes embossed full leather-faced upholstery, active xenon headlights with headlight cleaning system, rain sensor, cruise control, keyless start and rear theatre lighting.

The seats feature a blend of black Nubuck textile and perforated leather, crowned by an embroidered R-Design logo with a blue “R”. Full leather seats are available as an option.

The optional Sport chassis is available for R-Design V40s, which is lowered 10 mm compared with the standard Dynamic chassis. Springs and shock absorbers are firmer and the antiroll bars are of increased diameter. The chassis was developed in co-operation with Swedish racing driver Robert Dahlgren, who drives in the TTA Racing Elite League for the Volvo Polestar Black R team.

“The V40 R-Design is agile, responsive and fun to drive. Both chassis offer the enthusiastic driver a feeling of total control. You get both that connected response that makes a winding country road so much fun as well as the precise, nimble moves it takes to stay on top of busy urban traffic,” says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research & Development at Volvo Cars.

Volvo expects around 10% of all V40s to be ordered as R-Design versions, with this proportion rising to 25% here in the UK.

The R-Design trim will be available for all V40 engine variants, starting from the 113bhp D2 diesel and will be available for delivery from January 2013.