Volvo V60 Recharge hybrid review
"The Volvo V60 Recharge hybrid offers potent performance, practicality and low running costs, making it especially desirable for company-car drivers"
- Great interior
- Low running costs
- No less boot space
- Expensive to buy
- Average to drive
- Smartphone connectivity costs extra
The Volvo V60 Recharge is the plug-in hybrid version of Volvo's rival to the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class estate, which arrived before there were PHEV versions of those models.
Originally called the V60 T8 Twin Engine, it now gets the ‘Recharge’ name given to the brand’s plug-in hybrid and pure-electric models, and is available in two power outputs: an entry-level T6 version and a flagship Polestar Engineered T8 model.
The V60 Recharge T6 uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine that’s both supercharged and turbocharged combined with an electric motor driving the rear axle to produce 335bhp. The car will get from 0-62mph in a faintly ridiculous 5.4 seconds but perhaps more importantly, it can travel for up to 34 miles on electricity alone.
It's this that gives the T6 a low CO2 emissions figure of 42g/km, making it affordable for company-car drivers and giving it free entry into low emissions zones like the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London.
On the road, the V60 Recharge T6 doesn't feel quite as quick as its headline figures suggest but it’s sophisticated and makes a great cruiser. It also has a great interior, which feels effortlessly upmarket and high quality, with no drop in practicality compared with the petrol and diesel model.
Dig further down the price list, and there's also a V60 Recharge Polestar Engineered T8 with an enticing 399bhp. This is powered by an upgraded version of the same 2.0-litre petrol engine and hybrid powertrain as in the T6. It’s substantial power output makes it a rival to the Mercedes-AMG C 43 Estate and Audi S4 Avant. In reality, the Volvo’s 2.0-litre petrol-based plug-in hybrid powertrain lacks excitement and the car is too heavy to be genuinely engaging to drive.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Like every plug-in hybrid model, the fuel-efficiency you achieve in the V60 Recharge hybrid will depend entirely on how much you drive using battery power. From a full charge both powertrains can cover around 30 miles, so many will be able to carry out daily commutes using barely a drop of petrol. Drive with the battery empty and fuel economy for both models drops to between 35 and 40mpg. Charging the battery takes around 2.5 hours from a home wallbox or around six hours when connected to a three-pin domestic plug socket.
Officially, every version of the V60 Recharge hybrid returns triple-digit fuel economy. The T6 is the most economical powertrain returning up to 156.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 41-46g/km. With a fully charged battery, it can manage up to 34 miles using only electric power.
The more powerful Polestar Engineered T8 version returns up to 134.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 48-56g/km. It also offers a slightly improved pure-electric range of up to 37 miles.
Thanks to these low emissions figures, both versions of the V60 recharge qualify for a low Benefit-in-Kind banding for company-car drivers.
You'll pay the discounted VED (road tax) rate from the second year onwards, and with every model priced well in excess of £40,000, the additional annual surcharge is also due the first five times you renew.
Engines, drive & performance
Not only are the V60 Recharge models the greenest in the V60 lineup, they’re also the fastest. In T6 guise, the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine sends power to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with an electric motor driving the rear wheels, giving it four-wheel drive for excellent traction. In total, the powertrain produces 340bhp, putting the T6 close to fast estate rivals like the BMW M340i xDrive Touring and the Mercedes-AMG C 43 estate.
It combines to give the T6 impressive performance too, propelling it from 0-62mph in just 5.4 seconds in its hottest 'Power' driving mode. It's very different to the all-electric 'Pure' mode the car defaults into when you first start it, which sees the car glide away silently when you first press the accelerator. Push on harder and the petrol engine springs to life, with 'Hybrid' seeing the two motors juggle power seamlessly.
At the higher speeds you'll do on the motorway, the petrol engine is doing most of the work, and while it doesn't sound very exciting there is potent performance available. However, even with the supercharger, turbocharger, petrol engine and electric motor all contributing in 'Power' mode, the V60 Recharge T6 never feels quite as fast as its stats suggest.
For more rampant performance, the Polestar Engineered T8 could be the answer. Its plug-in hybrid powertrain uses the same 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged engine, but tweaked to produce a combined 399bhp. The torque of the electric motor makes it feel as quick off the line as its 4.6-second 0-62mph time suggests, but a flat soundtrack fails to excite, and the powertrain lacks character.
The Brembo brake upgrade is more convincing, bringing a noticeable improvement in feel over the standard versions, but the Polestar's Ohlins adjustable suspension dampers feel out of place here. Requiring manual adjustment (under the bonnet at the front, with the car jacked up at the rear) they sharpen up responses but feel too stiff and hardcore for what's usually a comfortable family car.
Interior & comfort
The Volvo V60 Recharge majors in comfort, but there was a noticeable stiffness in the suspension of the R-Design version we tried, which could be down to its sportier setup and the extra weight of its plug-in hybrid technology. Still, it wasn't crashy and an Audi A4 S line with sport suspension is harder still.
We're already big fans of the V60's interior, and that remains the case with the Recharge hybrid. It has fancy features like an Orrefors crystal gear selector that adds character. The dashboard is entirely digital, with a crystal clear instrument screen and nine-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard with an intuitive user interface.
Buyers can spec the Recharge T6 in two trim levels. The Inscription model features sat nav, LED headlights, keyless entry and a powered tailgate. The R-Design version is sportier, so you get part-leather sports seats and gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel. Above that, the Polestar Engineered T8 exists as a standalone trim level, adding extras like performance Brembo brakes, a gloss black front grille, a choice of Nappa leather, faux leather and textile upholstery, plus gold seat belts. It also gets a heated steering wheel and a premium Harmon Kardon stereo system.
Practicality & boot space
Sit the latest V60 and its predecessor next to one another, and you'll see Volvo has gone back to its traditional boxy design language without making it look dowdy. This has paid dividends inside, where there's loads of space for tall adults to sit comfortably. Our only gripes are limited foot room under the front seats and a large transmission tunnel that impedes comfort for a middle backseat passenger.
Impressively, Volvo has also managed to keep just as much boot space in the V60 Recharge by positioning the electric motor under the middle of the car. So you get 529 litres behind the rear seats, beating the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring.
Reliability & safety
In our 2020 Driver Power owner survey, Volvo finished 10th out of 30 manufacturers. However, the brand’s famous reputation for reliability took a hit, with 20.5% of owners telling us they'd experienced a fault within the first 12 months - a percentage that’s almost doubled since our 2018 survey.
Volvo has a long history of pioneering safety technology, and its cars are still amongst the very safest on the road. It easily achieved a five-star rating from Euro NCAP thanks to its strong design and active technology like City Safety, automatically braking or helping you steer around a vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist or large animal that's detected in your path.