“A powerful, practical and environmentally-friendly car, but the Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid is just far too expensive to buy.”
The Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid combines an electric motor with a traditional diesel engine to create a car that can do 148.7mpg and has emissions of just 49g/km. It's a very cheap car to run, but be aware that it's incredibly expensive to buy. It's powerful too, and although the handling isn’t as good as rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, it is a lot cheaper to run given just how powerful and fast it is. The V60 Plug-In looks just like the standard estate car from the outside (apart from the aerodynamic wheel trims), so this is a car for people who want to adopt new technology early without having to shout about it.
MPG, running costs & CO2 emissions
The Volvo V60 Plug-In combines a powerful battery pack with a diesel engine to generate an incredible fuel economy of 148.7mpg and just 49g/km of CO2 – less than the most efficient Toyota Prius. Three buttons on the centre console are used to access the three driving modes: Pure, Hybrid and Power. In Pure it runs solely using an electric motor, virtually silently, until all the power from the batteries is used up. In Hybrid mode it combines power from the engine and electric motor in the most efficient mix. The electric only driving range is around thirty miles in perfect conditions, but using a lot of electrical systems or the air-conditioning will see that figure fall quite quickly so you need to plan your journeys carefully to make the most of the battery power. The extra weight over the standard car means that running on diesel alone is less efficient, too.
Interior & comfort
While the V60 Plug-In is reasonably comfortable on the motorway or at cruising speeds, around town it can crash nastily over bumps and potholes thanks to the added weight of the batteries and four-wheel drive. However, the interior is spacious, climate control is included as standard, and the seats are very comfortable indeed.
Practicality & boot space
The V60's battery needs to be recharged from a normal socket at home, so the V60 plug-in is only really suitable for people who own a garage or have useful off street parking where they can plug in the short charge cable. The boot space is reduced by 160 litres over the standard V60 estate thanks to its bulky batteries, which means it's much smaller than the rival Audi A4 Avant, and even with the versatile rear seats folded down there is still less room than in a Volkswagen Golf hatchback. That's not to say the V60 isn’t a practical car, though, as there are some neat storage solutions and plenty of room in the back seats. It's also worth noting that the V60 is the most practical plug-in hybrid car you can buy.
Reliability & safety
Although the V60 Plug-In Hybrid is quite new and we don’t know how durable it will be in the long run, its interior quality is on par with its premium rivals from BMW and Audi. The V60 comes with six airbags, electronic stability control and a braking system that helps prevent low-speed accidents. There's an optional Driver Support Pack that includes blind spot and lane-change alerts, a pedestrian detection system, and collision warning technology, too. All of this equipment means the V60 Plug-In was the first electric vehicle to score five stars on the Euro NCAP test.
Engines, drive & performance
The V60 Plug-In is a lot heavier than the standard car, which makes it less comfortable over bumps, and the handling is compromised as well. The automatic gearbox is quite slow to react to the driver, so the V60 Plug-In is best suited to motorway cruising. The standard Volvo V60 was never a match for the fun of driving its BMW or Audi rivals so although the plug-in version of the car is very powerful and fast, it's not the best to drive. The Power button on the dashboard shifts the 281bhp four-wheel drive estate from 0-62mph in just 6.1 seconds.
Price, value for money & options
The V60 Plug-In Hybrid comes very well equipped with a lot of luxury equipment like a five-inch colour sat-nav and plush heated seats, but then it is the same price as a top-of-the-range BMW or Audi. At more than £40,000 after the £5,000 government grant for electric vehicles it really is an extremely expensive car, though company car drivers will love the low tax bills. The value for money is the biggest problem with this plug-in hybrid, as it is just so much more than the non-hybrid V60 models.