First drive of the new Volvo V60 PlugIn Hybrid with a diesel …

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Volvo V60 Electric Cars

Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid first drive review

Monday, 25 March 2013 10:40 AM

The Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid is a specialist car that will work well for those that maximise its attributes

The new Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid uses a 2.4-litre, 5-cylinder, 212bhp turbodiesel engine up front to drive the front wheels and a 69bhp electric motor to drive the rear wheels. It’s an all-wheel drive Volvo estate that, around the city, is designed to use its electric motor for zero emissions where possible, or four-wheel drive if you or the car decide extra grip is required, while at motorway speeds or more you’ll more than likely be using the diesel engine only.

There are three driving mode buttons on the dashboard Pure (electric only), Hybrid (let the car decide for best economy) and Power (for all the punt this V60 can muster). At best sprint you’ll see 62mph in just 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 143mph, and that’s all pretty peppy for a car with Hybrid in its name.

If you’re gentle with the gas pedal, the powerful electric motor and large chunk of battery under the boot floor could carry you to nearly 80mph. All of this latest diesel / hybrid tech means that Volvo can publish some headline-grabbing eco-figures at 155.2mpg and 48g/km of CO2. Such a low CO2 figure immediately makes the V60 Hybrid interesting to company car drivers trying to trim their benefit in kind tax and eco-families living in London-like cities that travel 31 miles (the V60’s electric only range on a full charge) or less per day.

But even Volvo doesn’t expect 150mpg in the real world. After a few fast and mountainous hours with the V60 Hybrid the in-dash readout was showing me around 35mpg.

So, this car is all about super-low official CO2 figures and an option to use only electricity around town ducking congestion charges and topping up the car’s battery at home over night when electricity is cheaper. A double-driving-style car then, but at £48,775 (take £5,000 off for the Plug-In Car Grant) you’ll really want to maximise the electric only usage and avoid the pricey diesel pumps. If you’re a motorway mile muncher then it’s probably not the car for your needs as you’ll be running the big diesel engine too much day to day.

Volvo predicts around 150 yearly UK sales of their new V60 Plug-In Hybrid, so it s clearly a bit specialist.

Into the interior

The usual top of the range Volvo comforts await inside this test car V60 Plug-In Hybrid, with plenty of leather, a pair of handsomely sculpted front seats and a clean and well built dashboard and centre console.

The teak-looking veneer is V60 Plug-In only and there’s also the latest glowing gear knob and full colour, full digital Volvo instrument panel to enjoy. The clocks are clear, crisp and informative. The colour sat-nav screen is a good size, and as is usual with the numerous Volvos that I’ve driven recently, there’s wide ranging adjustment in seat and steering wheel to help find a comfortable driving position.

Even for a very tall chap like me.

The interior is where it should be fit and finish wise for a car that costs over £48k, and of course there’s the extra length of this estate car for longer loads, although the big battery pack built into the boot floor and specifically crash tested eats into the boot’s depth a touch, and with the electric motor adds 250kg to the weight of this V60.

The drive, through city, motorway, hairpins and snow

Volvo V60 Electric Cars

You probably won’t notice that extra 250kg in a straight line this car weighs 1,995kg at the kerb but the suspension is obviously controlling a fairly hefty car. Keeping that extra mass in check is a stiffer and reinforced version of the standard V60’s undercarriage, and you will feel the stiffness. Over rutted city roads there’s a fair bit of jiggle and bounce, but on smoother roads this turns into racy-feeling control and poise.

Around town is where this car is meant to be used however.

This V60 is quick off the mark with the electric motor making instant torque (147lb ft) while the powerful diesel engine up front catches its turbo-breath and builds its chunky 324lb ft of torque from 1500-3000rpm. The 6-speed automatic gearbox is quick and smooth, fitting the cruising nature of the Hybrid, and it was reassuring to have all-wheel drive when the Scottish snow started to fall.

After a good hour of fast driving through deserted Scottish hill roads the mpg started to suffer, but back-lane-blasting wasn’t really in the V60 Hybrid’s design brief. It’s pretty good at this for a weighty car though, with that stiff suspension keeping most of the extra weight in check, but that big battery pack is always noticeably during faster direction changes. The brakes while Volvo-powerful do take a firm pedal-push.

It was good fun to blast the V60 through the lanes but this will chew into your economy, so if you’re really serious about one of these, take it for a test drive around town and try to maximise its electric only running with a gentle right foot and see if it will silently cover your daily commute, of up to 31 miles on a full charge. If electricity is the main fuel for your V60 Plug-In Hybrid then the savings on diesel will add up, with Volvo excepting an average pump-fossil fuel saving of fifty per cent over a standard V60 diesel.

Ten second sum up

The new Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid is the quickest V60, but also the most expensive, and very firm around town. However, if you want size, interior comfort, plenty of range, and benefit in kind savings, and can really maximise the car’s electric side, it could all start to stack up in the V60 Hybrid’s favour. It’s available to order now.

Use the Volvo On Call app to control and ‘talk’ to your V60 Plug-In Hybrid

Volvo V60 Electric Cars
Volvo V60 Electric Cars
Volvo V60 Electric Cars
Volvo V60 Electric Cars
Volvo V60 Electric Cars

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