Volvo V60 plug-in

14 May, 2012 7:15pm Luke Madden

The diesel-electric Volvo V60 plug-in claims to return 150mpg. But what's it like in the real world?


If you look past the V60 plug-in hybrid's hefty price-tag, you'll find that Volvo has created an extremely well-rounded eco model. The economy figures are definitely achievable, and they don’t come at the expense of handling and ride quality either. Nothing else is this frugal and this practical, so if your budget stretches this far then the Volvo is worth considering.
The Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid is the first ever production car to pair a diesel engine to a plug-in hybrid powertrain, and the economy benefits are incredible. Volvo claims it can return 148.7mpg and CO2 emissions of just 49g/km. 

Those amazing figures are made possible through the use of Volvo’s 2.4-litre 212bhp diesel engine and a 69bhp electric motor. These drive the front and rear wheels respectively, but Volvo predicts most of your driving will be done using the electric mode only. 

This means you’ll only have the 69bhp motor as a power source, but with 200Nm of torque you’ll find there’s plenty of acceleration. If you’re after more you can push the throttle just over half way and the diesel engine will kick in, allowing an extra surge of acceleration. Alternatively, select ‘Power mode’ and the full 600Nm of torque from both power sources becomes available, allowing the V60 to sprint from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds.

Consciously maintain a light right foot though, and Volvo’s claim that the V60 will run for 32 miles on battery power alone seems to be correct. If you do run out of charge the V60 will just run in a ‘Hybrid’ mode that sees it functioning much like a Toyota Prius would. Topping up the batteries is as simple as finding a wall socket and a full charge will take 3.5 hours.

Volvo freely admits that the batteries won’t last forever but they guarantee that they will have 60 per cent of their capacity after 10 years. Although the details haven’t been finalised, there will also be a special warranty offered that covers all hybrid components, too. 

Generally hybrid models come with a few compromises when it comes to driving dynamics but the V60 Plug-in Hybrid is just as good to drive as the standard car. Not only does it ride just as well, but it feels almost as agile – not bad considering the extra 300kgs it carries. 

But, while it drives just as well as the standard car it’s not quite as practical. Fitting a battery pack underneath the boot floor has raised the level of the floor by 60mm and cut boot space from 470 litres to 310 litres.

That’s probably not enough to put you off but the price-tag certainly might be. Volvo has said that the V60 plug-in hybrid will cost £42,000 (including the £5,000 government grant), which is around £10,000 more than the Vauxhall Ampera. The car you get is loaded with kit though, including leather seats, sat-nav, climate control and adaptive cruise control.

When viewed in the context of the burgeoning plug-in hybrid class, the V60 performs very well indeed. It feels just as good to drive as a standard V60 but comes with huge benefits to fuel economy. Only 125 will be coming to the UK in 2012 but a larger production run is planned for 2013.

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If the nearly 150mpg figure is half true and the car does 75mpg in real world driving I would still say it is a miracle. But I doubt it. How is this concumption measured? When the batteries are fully charged and running on electricity alone for the first 32 miles the gas consumption will be zero. What happens next? Driving for another 5 miles and recharging from the plug? One doesn't need a PhD in mathematics to realise that in such a "test" any mpg figure can be achieved. This is, I suspect, a common trick used in all hybrid cars. Please give me the mpg measured on a long journey, starting with empty battery.

Putting aside the fairy-tale fuel economy figures, in my opinion this concept represents a good way for the everybody to get accustomed to the relatively good economy of electric cars for short journeys (e.g. commuting) while still having the comfort blanket of an ICE under the bonnet to allow unfettered use of the car whenever necessary. Of course the main obstacle for now is still the price of electric vehicles, and this one is no different.

If you like the V60 why not buy the standard diesel one and use the change to FUEL IT FOR ITS LIFETIME!!!!!!!!!!

Anyone with half a brain woudn't pay £42,000 for a car of this standard.
Everything about battery technology is an unknown factor.
And you can bet it's "Joe Public" who are doing the long term R&D for the motor companys

the least we expect is that the 'first driver' would put this 150mpg claim to the test. It is very simple ---- first you fill the tank, then drive around for a few days, then you take a note of how many miles, kms or whatever you have done, and divide the number of litres, gallons etc into that figure. There, that is easy. Try it, I'm sure you'll get the hang of it on lots and lots of tests. And another thing, will you get rid of these pop-up ads as well.

Hi @deshill1 - this first drive was conducted on the international launch, which gives us a few hours with the car at most. Definitely not long enough to calculate a reliable mpg result.

We'll get the car into the office as soon as possible for a longer test and will report back then.

Hope this clarifies the situation,
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With plug-in hybrids, and to a lesser extend with the "normal" hybrids, the mpg test is not as simple as in sounds. If AE test starts with empty battery and ends the same way, no plug recharging in the meantime, then I'd take it seriously. Otherwise what do we have? mpg+mpKW? I asked an owner of Fisker Karma what are his real figures, he was honest to tell me that if he uses constantly the ICE range-extender the consumption is devastating.

Key specs

* Price: £42,000
* Engine: 2.4-litre 5cyl plus electric motor
* Power: 212bhp engine/ 59bhp electric motor
* Transmission: Six-speed manual, all-wheel drive
* 0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
* Top speed: N/A
* Economy: 148.7mpg
* CO2: 49g/km
* Equipment: TFT dials, adaptive cruise control, leather upholstery, sat-nav, Bluetooth
* On sale: Now