Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine hybrid
"The Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine 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
- Cheaper T6 on the way
The Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine is the first plug-in hybrid version of Volvo's rival to the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class, which arrived before there were PHEV versions of those models.
The V60 T8 is set to be the middle version of three plug-in hybrid V60s, with a less powerful and more affordable T6 Twin Engine expected in the near future. And if you don't need sports car-like acceleration from your Volvo estate, that may well be the version to wait for.
The V60 T8 uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine that’s both supercharged and turbocharged, sending 299bhp to the front wheels, while a further 86bhp from an electric motor can drive the rear axle, giving the V60 all-wheel drive. The car will get from 0-62mph in a faintly ridiculous 4.9 seconds, but perhaps more importantly, it can travel for around 30 miles on electricity alone. It's this that gives the V6 T8 Twin Engine its low 48g/km CO2 emissions, saving company-car drivers cash and making entry into low emissions zones (like the one subject to the London Congestion Charge) free to enter.
The V60 T8 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 T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered with an enticing 399bhp, making it a rival to the Mercedes-AMG C 43 Estate and Audi S4 Avant rival. 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 T8 Twin Engine will depend entirely on how much you drive using battery power. From a full charge it will cover around 30 miles, so many will be able to carry out their daily commute using barely a drop of petrol. Drive with the battery empty and the petrol engine is likely to return between 35 and 40mpg.
According to the WLTP test cycle, the T8 returns 135mpg and has CO2 emissions of 48g/km. This easily qualifies it for the lowest 16% Benefit-in-Kind for company-car drivers and the Volvo is well below the 75g/km threshold for the London Congestion Charge zone.
You'll pay £130 a year for road tax, but with a price expected to be well in excess of £40,000, a surcharge will increase this to £440 the first five times you renew.
Engines, drive & performance
Not only is the V60 T8 Twin Engine the greenest version, it's also the fastest. Under the bonnet there's a 299bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, sending power to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox. This is joined by an 86bhp electric motor that supplies the rear wheels, giving the T8 Twin Engine excellent traction.
It combines to give the T8 an impressive amount of power too, propelling it from 0-62mph in just 4.9 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 T8 Twin Engine never feels quite as fast as its stats suggest. If a BMW 330e Touring estate arrives as rumoured, it's likely to be the enthusiast’s choice.
For more rampant performance, the T8 Polestar Engineered 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 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 T8. In fact, the T8's status at the top of the range adds some fancy additions like an Orrefors crystal gearknob, that's unnecessary but adds character. The dashboard is entirely digital, with a crystal clear instrument screen and 9.7-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard with an intuitive user interface. The R-Design version is the most racey, so you get sports part-leather seats and gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel.
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 T8 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 2018 Driver Power owner survey, Volvo came mid-table overall, finishing 13th out of 26 manufacturers. However, reliability was one of its top performances, with a fifth place and just 10.4% of owners telling us they'd experienced a fault within the first 12 months.
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.