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.