Volvo has always been a builder of cars with a strong personality, engaging to drive, even sporting, with a very distinct design and excellent ergonomics and safety.
When time came to develop a Volvo which is tuned to the modern times of hybrid power, we could therefore expect something very special. And indeed, Volvo did not disappoint here. It came up with a car which is superbly powerful, smooth and immensely frugal. And remaining a typical Volvo with its comfort, handling and timeless design. An interesting car to test, as you will agree…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Volvo styling with ever more character...
In our eyes, the Volvo designers are hitting the nail better and better, and put into shapes and curves what Volvo's are all about: timeless sportiness, expressed with scandinavian purity and discretion.
The treatment of the front end is truly excellent, as we already found in the V40, and also the upward flowing accent lines on the sides of the car express very well the dynamism of this break. The taillights again express the typical Volvo styling signature, found throughout the range, and also underline the car's character.
The interior and dashboard styling are very much in harmony with the exterior lines of the car, seat design as well as the line accents in the door panels and central console, also with its Volvo typical "floating" structure, are very much in tune with the individual personality of this car.
Volvo has very well understood what hybrid driving is all about. One wants unrestricted or rather uncompromised performance, coupled with excellent economy and above all the zen-like smoothness of electric power, interacting beautifully with the thermal engine to deliver a smooth and uninterrupted power flow. All this combined with progressive and jerk-free braking, which of course is recuperating energy.
And indeed, the Volvo V60 Hybrid delivers all this. It has the classic sounding 2.4 litre 5 cylinder Diesel engine under the bonnet, which is a marvel in itself, delivering ample turbo power: not less than 215 hp, with a maximum torque of 440 Nm. This is conveyed through a silk smooth six speed Geartronic automatic transmission to the front wheels. But that is not all of course. The rear wheels are driven by an electric motor producing 68 hp and 200 Nm. All this means superb performance, like for instance an acceleration from 0 to 100 kph in a mere 6,1 seconds, thundering further to a top speed of some 230 kph. These figures are achieved in the so-called "power" mode.
The driver has however the choice between two further driving modes, "pure" and "hybrid". The hybrid mode is active whenever the car is started. Driving away from your parking spot is on electric power, and depending on the charge status of the battery the engine sets in sooner or later. This happens in the smoothest way possible, greatly enhancing the driving pleasure which this Volvo offers.
In the hybrid mode however, the battery is also charged when driving, and especially in slower city driving conditions, the Volvo will readily choose electric power whenever possible. This results often in driving considerable (city) distances on electric power alone, say 10-15 kilometres at a stretch. (see photo below) Needless to say that your city driving consumption reaches record low levels, with averages of around 2 litres /100 km being achieved.
The "pure" mode can be chosen when sufficient battery power is available, from the 11.2 kWh battery pack which is installed under the floor of the load compartment. A distance of up to 50 kilometres can be travelled on electric power alone. You can even push the car to a maximum speed of 125 km/h on electric power alone…
Needless to say that with all this smooth performance, the V60 Hybrid is a truly marvellous car to drive, where we also would like to say some words of praise about the Geartronic transmission, which always manages to choose the right gear without the slightest jerk. In all driving circumstances, even when we were in the sportiest mood, we left the gear lever well alone in "D".
The already famous Adaptive Digital Display which made its debut on the V40 series, is now also to be found on the V60, and by the way also on the XC60 and S60 models.
The driver has the choice between four themes.
The elegance theme is the standard mode, giving you all the necessary information like speed, distance, and also the amount of battery charge and distance to be travelled on electric power alone.
The ECO theme features green background illumination, and an eco meter is displayed on the left. One is informed about the current and accumulated average fuel consumption, and when your driving is optimal, you are rewarded with a green E light.
We especially liked the performance theme. It has a red background illumination, and in the centre one finds now a classic looking large rev counter where normally the speedometer is to be seen. You are now informed digitally about your speed, and on the right you find a power indicator, showing you the amount of power you use and how much is actually available.
The nice thing about this display is that one sees clearly when the engine is shut off or not, and it is certainly rather more dramatic to drive with the rev counter needle showing constantly zero.
Last but not least there is a so-called Hybrid theme with blue background illumination. Here one finds additional information about the battery charge status and how the hybrid driveline operates at the moment.
And state of the art entertainment...
The Volvo keeps you also very well informed and entertained during your trip.
The theme colours of the digital display is also reflected or rather repeated in the connected infotainment system, which features cloud based services integrated into the car, improved navigation with 3 D maps, amongst other things. There is also a new telematics option, with WiFi hotspot and internet connectivity. There is also TuneIn internet radio and this offers you the choice of 80.000 stations...
Driving like... A Volvo
We also would like to compliment our test car on its excellent balance between handling and comfort. This Volvo handles "just right" in any circumstance, on any road, and is therefore indeed a joy to drive, whether you are in a spirited or quiet mood. Add to this the excellent support and comfort of the seats, the good ergonomics of all controls, and you have the unique combination which makes a Volvo, well, a Volvo.
The car can be equipped with a host of safety features of course, like Active High Beam Control, where you can enjoy full headlight power without blinding other road users, and you can also enjoy Lane Keeping Aid for instance, which keeps you on course.
The V60 scores of course also quite well in daily (family) use, with enough space for (young) passengers and their luggage.
When you are looking for Hybrid transportation with character, individuality and you want a car which is also a (sporting) joy to drive, and on top of that has excellent economy and will last a lifetime, then this Volvo is the car for you. It breathes the spirit of our ecological age, without sacrificing anything you always dreamt of as a car enthusiast in terms of driving pleasure, and that is no small compliment indeed...