We drove the
Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid
up the hill at the
2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed
– so we were very smug at the wheel of an all-wheel drive Volvo estate with an official economy figure of 150mpg and acceleration from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds.
Prior to this we drove the new Ford Focus ST up the Goodwood hill . This has a 0-62mph time that falls slightly short of 6.2 seconds, and it returns 39.2mpg, along with 169g/km CO2. This makes an interesting comparison with the Volvo estate, which has official emissions of just 49g/km CO2.
So is this Volvo for real? Yes it is, and you’ll be able to buy one – the world’s first plug-in diesel hybrid – in the UK very soon. Green Car Guide has been following the development of the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid for well over a year now, being allowed full access to the car and the team that’s been working on it. We were one of the first media in the world to drive the car over a year ago in Berlin, and throughout its programme we’ve been highly impressed with the V60, and here’s why.
The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid is a large, five-seat Volvo estate with all-wheel drive capability. It has a total power output of 215hp plus 70hp, and torque of 440Nm plus 200Nm. This gives acceleration from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 124mph . Yet it has an official economy figure of 150mpg and emissions of just 49g/km CO2. It can also drive in zero tailpipe emission electric mode for up to 32 miles. There is no other car can do all that.
So how was it to drive up the Goodwood hill? Acceleration off the line feels rapid, helped by the high levels of torque from the electric motor. Six-speed automatic transmission eliminates the need for any gearchanges by the driver. Grip is strong through the corners, and the handling feels well-sorted, even though you can feel that this is a relatively heavy car.
So how is all this achieved? The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid has a diesel engine, an electric motor and battery, and the ability to plug it in to the mains to recharge the battery (a full recharge will take between three and a half and seven hours depending on the charging equipment).
The plug-in capability is the secret to its amazing set of figures. This gives the V60 sufficient charge in its battery to provide electric-only commuting for many people , and this is what results in the official economy figure of 150mpg and just 49g/km CO2.
Although we genuinely think that the V60 is an excellent car, it’s our duty to provide a warning about the 150mpg figure . If you drive every journey as per the NEDC cycle, ie. a very short journey with very light load on the car, then you may get somewhere close to an average of 150mpg. If you drive it like the average person is likely to drive it over 12,000 miles, then you will not get 150mpg.
The V60’s engine is a five-cylinder, 2.4-litre turbodiesel unit, and we like this because it’s a refreshing change from the small engines usually found in green cars, and it helps to provide impressive levels of performance not usually associated with ‘ eco cars ’.
The diesel engine powers the front wheels and the electric motor powers the rear wheels, with the combination providing all-wheel drive. If you need all-wheel drive all of the time, in other words, after the battery powering the electric motor and the rear wheels runs out, then this is possible, as the engine can act as a generator for the electric motor.
The V60 has three driving modes: Pure, Hybrid, and Power. The Hybrid mode is the default, where the diesel engine and the battery work together for optimum efficiency. Pure mode is where you select all-electric drive – which can mean up to around 32 miles of all-electric driving. In Power mode, the diesel engine and battery work together with the goal of maximum performance. There’s also a ‘Save’ button to prevent the hybrid system working – for instance to save battery power in advance of entering an urban low emission zone.
So what about the price? The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid will cost £47,000, but it will be eligible for the UK government’s Plug-in Car Grant subsidy, bringing the price down by £5000 to £42,000. In our view, this is good value for a car that combines such a range of selling points. The V60 even has a towing capacity of 1800 kg – something that is very rare for a hybrid.
Production of the V60 Plug-in Hybrid is due to start in
, with the first cars available in the UK in early 2013. Based on our experiences so far, it’s on course to be one of our top green cars of the year.