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Road tests

New Volvo V60 T6 Recharge 2023 review

The V60 has been around for a little while now, so can some hybrid powertrain and infotainment changes help it keep up with the pack?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

Google infotainment tech has made the V60 more appealing than ever, while the bigger battery for the plug-in hybrid T6 Recharge model brings a useful increase in range, and a low BiK figure for company car choosers. The updates mix well with the V60’s existing strengths - decent practicality, a comfort-focused drive and handsome looks. 

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The Volvo V60 might just be the best-looking estate car money can buy right now. Offering a feeling of restraint as others in the sector get more aggressive-looking, the Swede remains a classically handsome breath of fresh air. However, the V60 turns four years old in 2023 and has some stiff competition in the form of the much fresher Mercedes C-Class Estate and a recently updated BMW 3-Series Touring. So, it’s just as well that Volvo has been quietly tinkering in the background.

The 2023 V60 T6 Recharge we find ourselves in here has two significant upgrades. Firstly, there’s a bigger battery for the plug-in hybrid system, with the capacity growing from 11.6kWh to 18.8kWh. A more recent tweak concerns the infotainment, which features a new Google Android-based operating system. 

As for the former, the increase in battery cells has seen the V60 PHEV’s range jump from an already-impressive 34 miles to 54. In reality, 40 miles is as good as you can expect, and whether that’s achievable will depend on a variety of factors including the kind of driving you’re doing and the weather. 

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Regardless, that’s an impressive figure and enough for many people’s commutes. The increase also puts the V60 T6 Recharge into the eight per cent Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax rate, making the car extremely tempting to company car users.

As before, the battery feeds a single electric motor mounted on the rear axle, with a turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four powering the front wheels for a combined power output of 345bhp. That’s some way off the range-topping T8, which gets a turbocharged and supercharged inline-four for a whopping combined output of 449bhp. But the T6 still feels very quick, with the instant delivery of the motor’s torque effectively making up for turbo lag. The 0-62mph time is 5.4 seconds, which we have no trouble believing. The engine part of the equation is smooth and relatively quiet, emitting a reasonably present but still muted din in its upper reaches. 

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The V60 V6 might seem like a performance car given its healthy front-line pace, but reach a corner while carrying a bit of speed, and you’ll soon discover it isn’t. A bigger battery means more weight - the old car wasn’t exactly a flyweight itself, and the new one tips the scales at around two tonnes. You can feel like you’re wrestling with the car’s considerable mass through the bends, and there’s quite a bit of body roll. With the engine providing much more power for the front wheels than the motor sends to the rear, the V60 also feels more like a front-wheel drive car. 

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The steering has a nice weight to it, and feels more natural overall than in some earlier Volvo Scalable Product Architecture vehicles, although it still doesn’t provide any meaningful feedback from the road surface. The suspension meanwhile can feel overwhelmed on more undulating pieces of tarmac, showing that the body control is at times lacking.

For most, this isn’t going to matter. Yes, the lighter, rear-wheel drive BMW 330e feels much sharper to drive, but there’s nothing wrong with the V60’s focus on comfort. It rides smoothly, and excellent refinement makes for a quiet, relaxing drive over longer distances. 

The powertrain is slick in its operation, too, making the V60 even more cossetting for its occupants. The transitions between power sources are generally seamless, and often imperceptible. Working together, the two systems can deliver impressive fuel economy, but what you achieve will vary greatly depending on multiple factors including the length and nature of the journey plus the charge state before departure. 

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You certainly shouldn’t bank on replicating the official 256.5mpg unless completing a journey with the engine only joining the party infrequently and for very short periods. A fully-charged battery can boost the economy of a circa-100-mile motorway journey beyond 60mpg, while on an empty battery, a high-30s figure is generally the best you can hope for. 

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We also have to point out that without an electricity tariff that gives lower per kWh rates at nighttime, charging a V60 won’t be hugely cheap. On that subject, the maximum charging rate is still below-average at 3.7kW, so a charge at home from a wallbox will take 2.5 hours. Given the battery capacity increase, we’d have liked to have seen a 7kW recharge capability at the same time.

On shorter trips, if you’d rather cut the engine out altogether, there is a Pure mode for electric-only running, and conversely, a Power mode which keeps both propulsion sources going all the time for maximum performance. We kept the V60 in Hybrid mode almost all the time, however, partly because it suits the car best, but also because switching modes involves going into the settings on the infotainment screen - Volvo has ditched the drive mode selector wheel found in earlier versions of this car.

Thankfully, the nine-inch touchscreen is responsive, and thanks to the new Android OS, very easy to use. Having Google Maps ready to go at all times without needing to link a smartphone to get it is a real boon - it’s a far better navigational tool than any OEM setup. Google users can also log in to have destinations shared across devices, and the Play store is present to allow for the downloading of car-friendly apps like Spotify. 

The new set-up feels like the final piece of the puzzle for the V60, which already had an excellent premium-feeling cabin that’s nicely different from what you find in more traditional German options. It’s very practical, too. There’s a decent amount of room for rear-seat passengers, and behind them, as (despite the bigger battery) there’s a generously-sized 529-litre boot that can be expanded to offer 1,441 litres. This is far from a class-leading figure, though - gone are the days when Volvo estates were basically giant boxes on wheels. They’re something quite different, but they are still very appealing. 

Model:Volvo V60 T6 Recharge Ultimate
Price:£57,565
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl plug-in hybrid petrol
Power/torque:345bhp/400Nm
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:5.4sec
Top speed:112mph
Fuel economy:256.5mpg
CO2:25g/km
On sale:Now

 

What does the V60 T6 Recharge have to compete with? Read our list of the best plug-in hybrids to find out...

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