Volvo V60 plug-in

26 Apr, 2012 9:00am Stefan Voswinkel

Diesel-electric estate has a 32-mile zero-emissions range and can return almost 150mpg


This is a thoroughly well engineered car that deserves to be a big hit for Volvo. Refinement is excellent, the selection of modes ranging from pure electric to maximum power is well judged and it looks as good as ever. But there are hurdles to overcome; owners are unlikely to ever match the claimed economy even if you charge it up at every opportunity and, at nearly £50,000 it’s almost £20,000 more expensive than a standard V60 D5.

Diesel hybrids are nothing new. Mercedes has the E300 Hybrid and Peugeot/Citroen its HYbrid4 technology, but this is the world’s only diesel plug-in hybrid. We’ve already driven a prototype of the V60 plug-in, but this is the full production version which you can order now with first deliveries in November.

Under the bonnet is Volvo’s punchy 212bhp 2.4-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel engine driving the front axle, while a 69bhp electric motor is mounted at the rear. The result is four-wheel drive, 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds and economy and emissions on the slightly skewed combined cycle of 148.7mpg and 49g/km respectively. In real-world driving expect to get closer to 50mpg.

Charging the lithium-ion battery pack takes around four hours from a standard socket, and the first 32 miles can be covered in zero-emissions ‘Pure’ mode. You can even push the accelerator right to the floor without the diesel engine kicking in.

Three other modes are also available. The first is ‘Hybrid’, which allows the two power sources to work together for maximum efficiency and a potential range of 621 miles. A ’Power’ setting extracts the maximum performance possible, while a permanent four-wheel-drive mode can be activated when required.

At motorway speeds refinement is superb, with the diesel engine burbling away quietly under the bonnet - it’s here that the V60 is at its best. A total of 640Nm of torque means that there’s surging pace whenever you need it, but the V60 is no match for the BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 in the corners.

The V60 plug-in will be available in range-topping SE Lux trim only, and in just one colour – Electric Silver. You can tell it apart from standard V60s by its aerodynamic 17-inch wheels, a gloss black grille and front spoiler, and a ‘Plug-in Hybrid’ emblem on the boot and front wings.

An initial batch of 1,000 will go into production in November, with a third of those destined for Scandinavia and only a handful bound for the UK. However, annual production is scheduled to hit 4,000-6,000 units from next year, depending on its popularity.

Key specs

* Price: £47,500 (est) inc government grant
* Engine: 212bhp 2.4-litre five-cyl diesel and 69bhp electric motor
* Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
* Power: 281bhp (total)
* Torque: 640Nm (total)
* 0-62mph: 6.2 seconds
* Top speed: n/a
* Economy: 148.7mpg
* CO2: 49g/km
* Equipment: Leather upholstery, speed-sensitive steering, electric driver’s seat, parking sensors, Bluetooth
* On sale: November