First Drive

First Drive: Volvo V60 PHEV

The story:
Reinvigorated thanks in part to its new owners and a string of critically acclaimed new models, Volvo’s long term plan to downsize powertrains, reduce diesel dependency and embrace hybridisation appears to be working. And its new all-wheel drive V60 T8 plug-in hybrid is the pinnacle of its non SUV range.
Category:compact executive
Key rival:Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine
Price:£50,000 approx (tbc)
MPG:135mpg
Emissions:48g/km
On sale:Spring 2019 (tbc)

In a few short years Volvo’s ‘Twin Engine’ plug-in hybrid technology has become key to its fleet offer. And it’s not just the preserve of its XC90 and XC60 SUV models; the tech is also available on its large S90/V90 range, and it’s now coming to the mid-size V60 estate, tested here in high-spec T8 guise. Prefer a plug-in S60 saloon? No problem, because that’s also coming in late 2019.

For estate fans this V60 T8 promises a good mix of practicality, the premium-grade refinement we’ve come to expect from Volvo and the business-friendly 48g/km benefits of a petrol PHEV. Producing a combined 385bhp output from its 299bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and 86bhp electric motor, this V60 is no slouch. The 10.4kWh battery affords the user an on paper EV-only range of 30 miles, while a selection of driving modes allow you to toggle between pure electric running, auto, performance and a dedicated all-wheel-drive mode – the latter results in the front-drive V60’s electric motor powering the rear wheels. Incidentally, initial start up is always in EV mode and quickly defaults to the auto setting.

First Drive- March 2019-Volvo V60 PHEV-Image 3Naturally, economy and electric driving range is stretched by driving gently, and the standard eight-speed auto gearbox is a responsive and predictable unit. Push harder and, predictably, economy and EV range will drop. The driving experience isn’t quite as satisfying as an equivalent BMW’s, but Volvo doesn’t pitch this V60 T8 as a dedicated performance car. It’s strengths lie in its ability to cosset occupants while still allowing you to drive briskly with confidence when conditions allow. This attribute is further enhanced by the car’s all-wheel-drive, all-weather qualities.

Fortunately, the added hybrid tech doesn’t impact the T8’s boot space, with 529 litres and 1,441 litres available with the rear seats up and folded respectively.

This no-compromise approach continues in the cabin; occupant space fore and aft is good, the familiar Volvo driving interface works reasonably well and the range and depth of standard comfort and safety kit is excellent. Hybrid tech aside, in every other respect this T8 variant behaves just like a regular V60 – which is no bad thing.

 

 

 

Iain Dooley

The verdict

As estate-based hybrids go, this Volvo is a good one. Although a left-field choice for some, its stylish appearance
and rounded ownership experience help cement its well-deserved premium status.