The Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine is one of the best plug-in hybrids that we’ve tested: it delivers an impressive all-electric range, it’s great to drive with lots of performance, it has all-wheel drive, and it’s a practical estate.
The last plug-in hybrid Volvo V60 that we tested had a diesel engine mated to a battery and electric motor. We liked that car, but the new V60 plug-in hybrid features petrol power, as well as all the improvements that the new V60 brings over the old model.
The Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine has a 303hp, 400Nm 4-cylinder, 2-litre petrol engine combined with an 87hp electric motor. It has an official electric range of 31.1 – 36.7 miles, emissions of 39g/km CO2 and official fuel economy of 113.0-166.1mpg based on the new WLTP test. An 8-speed automatic transmission delivers power through the front-wheels, but you can also select all-wheel drive.
It looks good, especially in R-Design trim, the latest Volvo interiors are stylish and functional, and the V60 is an Estate, so it’s practical (even though it hasn’t got a huge boot). However occupants of the centre rear seat won’t be impressed with the legroom – it has what appears to be a large transmission tunnel, although this is actually where the battery is located.
First things first, most people should be able to find a good driving position in the V60 thanks to lots of adjustability with the seat and steering wheel. If the temperature outside is zero degrees – as it was for most of our test of the V60 T8 – then you can switch on the heated seats and – on our test car – the heated steering wheel. You can then pull the gear selector down – twice (pull it down just once and you’ll end up in Neutral) – to select Drive (without having to press any form of button to unlock the selector). You’ll then be moving off in Hybrid mode – this means that you’ll probably be starting off on electric power, but the car can choose the petrol engine if it thinks that petrol power is more appropriate at a certain time.
If you want pure electric mode then you’ll need to press the drive mode switch, rotate it upwards, and select ‘Pure’. This will give pure electric power – unless you’re too enthusiastic with the accelerator, in which case the petrol engine can easily kick in. However if you can keep it on electric power then you’re rewarded with an extremely smooth, quiet and refined driving experience. This is, of course, something that we say about most electric cars, but the V60 really does feel like a quality product. It feels like a well-sorted conventional car with electric propulsion, rather than an electric car that is trying (and sometimes failing) to feel like a normal car. Even with an exterior temperature of zero degrees, the V60 was displaying an electric range of between 25 and 28 miles every day, and it was achieving this in real life, which is impressive.
Apart from Hybrid and Pure, another drive mode is Power, which delivers more power and response, but through the front wheels, so although this might be fine in summer, on freezing road surfaces, 400hp through the front wheels wasn’t particularly desirable.
Thankfully Volvo has provided the V60 T8 with an all-wheel drive mode. Hopefully most people will agree that this sounds useful in theory, but we can absolutely confirm that in the real-world, ie. on roads covered in sheet ice, this is a brilliant feature. And for the more curious amongst us, it’s a really interesting experiment to try and drive up an icy hill in front-wheel drive, and then when the standard tyres are making no progress, select all-wheel drive and be amazed at the radical improvement in traction and forward progress. Of course, winter or all-season tyres will get you further in the snow and ice than all-wheel drive, but nevertheless the V60’s AWD feature proved to be extremely useful during our week with the car.
So you can select Hybrid, Pure, Power or AWD via the drive mode switch, but there are also two more modes that you need to be aware of. One of these is Hold, which allows you to hold the battery charge, potentially for use later in a built-up area, by using the petrol engine. The other function is Charge, which uses the petrol engine to charge the battery while you’re driving, again, to allow the car to be driven with zero tailpipe emissions later on. These are both really useful features, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to why Volvo has hidden these drive modes away in the touchscreen. You actually have to swipe the screen to the right, and then when a new screen appears, you have to swipe downwards to find these two options. We can imagine that many V60 T8 owners would never know that these functions exist, or at least would never use them, because they’re so difficult to access.
One other thing to be aware of is that there is no way to fully change gear manually. There are steering wheel-mounted paddles, but these just change gear for a few seconds. The inability to fully change gear manually should be a big issue, but actually the V60’s automatic transmission is sufficiently good to minimise the number of occasions when this is a problem. Apart from the paddles, you can also choose the B-setting using the gear selector, giving you more brake regen, which provides a similar sensation to changing down a gear to achieve engine braking.
No matter what drive mode you’re in, there is one very big plus point with the V60, and that is its ride, which is incredibly comfortable at all times. It’s also quiet and refined, which makes it an extremely enjoyable car to drive, both locally and on long motorway journeys, especially when combined with its ability to deliver zero emission travel, or performance of almost 400hp in Sport mode.
So what about handling? Well, the chassis feels supple, but the V60 T8 weighs around two tonnes, so ultimately there’s a limit to its agility. The steering is well weighted and responsive.
It’s also worth noting that the V60 T8 has a 2 tonne towing capacity.
The V60 interior is pretty much identical to that of other Volvos, which means that the dashboard looks stylish and feels good, and it’s mostly functional. It has a digital instrument display and a touchscreen that works better than most other touchscreens, although as noted above, you do need to swipe left and right to access a number of other controls.
There’s one final observation that we’ve mentioned before with the latest Volvos – despite all the well-designed technology in the V60, the key has two very similar, fiddly buttons to lock and unlock the car, which are easily mixed up, especially at night.
The official WLTP combined fuel economy for the Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine is 113.0 – 166.1mpg, with CO2 emissions of 39 g/km. It has an official electric driving range of 31.1 – 36.7 miles, although it was consistently delivering 25-28 miles every day on test.
A plug-in hybrid can offer anything from 166mpg down to 30-40mpg depending upon whether it is driven mostly on electric power or mostly on petrol power. So our standard advice about plug-in hybrids applies: a plug-in hybrid makes sense if the car is primarily driven on electric power, ie. journeys up to around 30 miles between charging, with occasional longer journeys.
If you do have to drive a plug-in hybrid on a long motorway journey, it’s useful to know what sort of economy to expect if the car is purely using petrol power. In real-world motorway driving at 70mph on the petrol engine the V60 returned 41.9 mpg. Doing the same journey with petrol and battery power this improved to 52.0 mpg.
After a week with the V60 we achieved an average of 55.7mpg – pretty good for a 400hp AWD Estate with outside temperatures of zero degrees.
In addition to its electric range of 25-28 miles, the V60 T8 had a range of 410 miles on its petrol engine.
The Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design Plus Automatic costs £50,905. Our test car had the options of the Bowers and Wilkins pack (£2,500), Xenium pack (Panoramic Sunroof, Parking Camera and Park Assist Pilot) (£1,800), Winter pack (Heated Steering Wheel, Heated Aqua Blades and Headlight Cleaning System) (£200), Intellisafe Surround (£625), Laminated Side and Rear Windows (£750), 19″ alloys (£550), 4.5m Type 2 / Mode 3 Charge Cable (£50) and Premium Metallic Paint (£975), taking the total price of our test car to £58,355.
The V60 range is available from £34,315 for the D3 Momentum Plus; petrol and diesel engines are available, and trim levels are Momentum Plus, R-Design Plus, Polestar Engineered, Inscription Plus and Cross Country Plus.
We’ve driven the diesel V60 D4, and we didn’t get on with it. We’ve driven the petrol S60 T5, which didn’t have the sluggish responses from standstill of the diesel, but it still didn’t float our boat. We’ve also driven the V60 Cross Country, which was our favourite of the lot. But all of these models are put in the shade by the Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine, which is a brilliant car. It’s excellent to drive, with a superb ride, and feels like a real quality product. Although it operates in front-wheel drive as a default, you can select all-wheel drive if required – as we needed to during our week with car on sheet ice. And even in temperatures of around zero degrees, it delivers around 28 miles of electric range in the real-world. Yet it can also deliver lots of performance. The interior looks good and works well, and it’s an estate, meaning that it’s practical.
However our key take-away is this: When you’re driving the V60 T8 on electric power, it feels better to drive than most electric cars on sale today. It feels a like a conventional petrol car that is very well sorted, but it has electric propulsion. Most pure EVs don’t feel this good to drive; this surely bodes well for when Volvo’s pure electric models hit the showrooms.
The Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine AWD gains a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.