Volvo V60 diesel hybrid
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Volvo V60 diesel hybrid
If you do a lot of this, the V60 diesel hybrid could be just the business car you’ve been looking for

Volvo V60 D6 AWD Plug-in Hybrid

What is it

The Volvo V60 D6 AWD is the world’s first diesel-plug-in hybrid production car.

Toyota and Honda, of course, pioneered hybrids and Peugeot got there first when it came to diesel hybrids.

Now Toyota can sell you a plug-in Prius too, but Volvo is the first manufacturer to bring these strands of development together in one car.

Volvo V60 diesel hybrid
Whereas if your business miles take you out into the country, with lots of motorway, the numbers don’t look so persuasive

The ‘D’ on the V60 plug-in hybrid’s tail tells us that it gets most of its go from a diesel engine, while the ‘6’ tells us that is in the highest performance bracket as far as Volvos are concerned.

And ‘AWD’? This car doesn’t have a conventional four-wheel drive transmission but all the wheels are driven, albeit not necessarily all at the same time. The diesel engine drives the front wheels and the electric motors drive the rear – but it is possible to make the car drive all four wheels simultaneously by pressing an AWD button on the dash.

The V60 D6 AWD has three drivetrain settings:

  • ‘Pure mode’ is the main fuel-saving trick – the ability to run for up to 31 miles on its batteries on a charge-up from the mains. Pure mode enforces electric-only operation unless the driver needs to accelerate hard. 
  • ‘Hybrid’ draws on the electric and diesel elements of the drivetrain intermittently as required in the interests of economy, and
  • ‘Power’ extracts full electric and diesel power in order to maximise performance.

The V60 D6 AWD qualifies for the UK government’s £5000 plug-in car grant, which makes for an on-the-road price of £43,775, although the P11D value, at £48,720, is not affected by the grant.

Our test car was one of an initial special run of 1,000 vehicles that did not receive the recently announced facelift for the V60 and other big Volvos; the first customer cars get the facelift but will be mechanically identical to the one we drove.

 

Volvo V60 diesel hybrid
Performance is excellent – 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds is seriously quick. And we got 46.5mpg in a brisk cross-country drive

What’s hot

  • Excellent performance from combined diesel electric powertrain – even today, a 0-62mph acceleration time of 5.8 seconds represents near-supercar performance
  • Excellent official CO2 emissions of 48g/km although this result is flattered by the short cycles covered by the test and the favourable treatment of the battery charge from the mains
  • Very good fuel economy for motorists who make short journeys that can be completed mostly or entirely on mains electricity without calling on the diesel engine
    Volvo V60 diesel hybrid
    Inside all is tranditional Volvo virtue – safe, comfortable and excellent ergonomics
  • Low company car tax burden, with 5 per cent company car tax until 2015, exemption from the 3 per cent diesel surcharge,  and 100 per cent first-year write-down – now extended to 2018
  • A very well engineered drivetrain – transitions between electric and diesel drive occur very smoothly
  • Traditional Volvo virtues, including a full array of safety features, excellent ergonomics and superb seats
  • Most of the standard V60’s Volvo estate practicality is preserved – the load area floor is slightly raised in the hybrid car, but this scarcely compromises load-carrying ability
  • Safe, secure handling
  • An unusually generous maximum towing weight for a hybrid of 1800kg – most hybrids and electric cars have very low towing weights that will not permit a caravan to be towed
  • ‘Save for later’ button that allows a driver to save the energy in the batteries for a later phase of the journey – for example a low-emissions zone in a city
  • AWD button provides for all-wheel drive mode for best possible traction when conditions require it
  • One single very high ‘loaded’ spec – SE Lux Nav

 

What’s not

  • Stiffer suspension designed to accommodate the extra weight of the hybrid drivetrain and batteries makes for a slightly firmer ride, although this is not unpleasant
    Volvo V60 diesel hybrid
    All that technology has to be accommodated – and it adds weight as well as cost
  • A high price that puts the V60 plug-in hybrid technology beyond the reach of mainstream company car users, although the high performance and the single high spec available put the price into context
  • Real world fuel consumption that suffers when drivers undertake longer journeys where the relative contribution of the electric element of the drivetrain is smaller than on short trips. Our company car tax calculator gives a more realistic 57.5mpg, and  we returned an indicated 46.5mpg on a long spirited drive, a good figure for the performance on offer but a lot less than the official 155mpg, or the three-figure returns available for short journeys where the car runs mainly on battery power.

 

Business Car Manager road test verdict

The Volvo V60 D6 AWD is a very impressive piece of machinery but it isn’t a super-economical motorway mile muncher for mainstream business motorists – they will be better served by a conventional diesel.

Expect to see more diesel plug-in hybrids from Volvo

The high price will put the Volvo V60 diesel hybrid out of reach for most company car users, and its enormous fuel-saving potential is only accessible for those who mostly make fairly short journeys that can be completed entirely or mostly in electric-only mode.

However, for some business car drivers with a pattern of use that plays to this Volvo’s strengths and for whom the tax position stacks up, it could be very attractive indeed, especially given the level of performance on tap.

Volvo knows that’s quite a small niche, and expects to sell about 150 V60 D6 AWDs in the UK each year – but this car is a lot more significant for the industry than that modest number suggests. Expect to see more – and financially more attractive – diesel plug-in hybrids from Volvo and from other manufacturers in the future.

 

The Low Down…

Doors and body style 5-door estate
Engine/gearbox 2.4-litre 5-cyl turbodiesel/electric motor/Geartronic auto
CO2 Emissions 49g/km
Economy 155.2mpg (official)/57.5mpg (official diesel only)
Power/torque 218PS/440Nm
0-62mph/top speed5.8secs/143mph
Insurance group N/A

…and what it costs

P11D Value £48,720
Monthly business rental (ex VAT) From £815
Road tax (VED) Band A
Company Car Tax Bands 2012/13 to 2014/15 5%
Benefit in kind 2012/13 to 2014/15 £2436 a year
Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%) £202/£17
Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%) £404/£34
Annual/monthly company car tax (20%) £487/£41
Annual/monthly company car tax (40%) £974/£81
Figures correct at time of posting 
For latest figuresUse our company car tax calculator
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