Most people may not associate Volvo with performance, but the Swedish automaker has offered several notable sporty variants of its regular lineup in the past under the R performance range. The S60 R, for example, was introduced in 2003 and boasted a 300 horsepower turbocharged engine mated to a 6-speed manual and Haldex all-wheel drive system.

Sadly, in 2007, the automaker decided to drop the brand and replace it with the lamer R-Design label the following year. R-Design is essentially a range of styling and accessories upgrades for Volvo’s cars.

Part of the reason for the demise of the R performance range was the image of Volvo as a performance brand. Unfortunately, the bulk of Volvo’s customers are not interested in performance cars and sports enthusiasts aren’t usually inclined to test-drive a Volvo when buying a car.

Nor surprisingly, Volvo sold less than a third of its R performance range of cars than it had hoped.

Speaking with Swedespeed, Volvo’s North American chief, Doug Speck, hinted at a revival of the R performance range. Speck explained that instead of targeting extreme performance brands like AMG and BMW’s M Division, the new Volvo R performance range could go after medium-level performers like Audi’s S range of cars, offering a little extra performance at a much more attractive price.

With the exciting 2010 Volvo S60 just on the horizon, Volvo now has an opportunity to bring back the R performance range.

[Swedespeed]