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First drive: Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid D6 AWD

It’s rare in this world to say you have driven a genuine world first, but that’s just what happened last week with a stint behind the wheel of the Volvo V60 D6 AWD.

You may be wondering what’s so new about this model? After all, Volvo has offered diesels since day one in the current V60 estate and all-wheel drive is nothing much to write home about in this day and age. Even the D6 tag only hints at what’s unique about this model.

Okay, let’s cut to the chase: the V60 D6 AWD is the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid.

Yes, Citroen and Peugeot offer diesel hybrids, but the Volvo is the first where you can charge the battery from a socket, either at home, the office or a number of charging points around the country now.

The V60 D6 AWD is the world’s first diesel plug-in hybrid

During our time with the V60 D6, we plugged in to a charger in a car park in Glasgow and it couldn’t have been simpler, disproving the myth propagated by some that plug-ins somehow need a degree in rocket science to operate.

Far from it; the Volvo’s charging lead simply connects to the car and charging point, a green light comes on and that’s it, your car is being charged.

Safety first

In true Volvo style, this has been thought through and the plug lead into the car cannot be removed unless you deliberately unlock it, even with the car left unlocked. Also, the ignition will not work with the lead still attached, so there’s no chance you can drive off dragging the charging point with you.

The lithium-ion battery adds some 250kg to the weight of the V60 and Volvo makes a virtue of this necessity by distributing the weight as evenly as possible between the front and rear of the car. It makes for decent driving dynamics, which we’ll come on to in a moment, but it also allows the V60 D6 AWD to have a realistic electric-only range of 31 miles.

Volvo V60 Plug In Hybrid 2013 hotel

This range is not only available at town speeds, as with the Toyota Prius and its electric-only range of little more than a mile. Nope, Volvo drivers can head off into the country or along the motorway on battery juice alone.

Should the need arise for more power or the battery begins to run low on power, the 2.4-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel comes into play with barely perceptible assistance. It’s helped by a slick six-speed automatic gearbox, which of course features stop-start for added economy and lower emissions.

The driver has to select the Pure all-electric mode every time the car is started as it defaults to the Hybrid mode, which mixes electric and diesel power for the lowest possible fuel consumption.

There is also a Power mode that gives the most of the 212bhp diesel engine and 69bhp electric motor, offering 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds for the D6 to be Volvo’s second fastest V60 model.

Canny

Overall, the D6 is rated at 48g/km carbon dioxide emissions and Volvo says the average fuel economy works out at 155.2mpg. This figure comes with a caveat from Volvo’s marketing types who say this combined figure is very dependent on local weather conditions, temperature and driving style, so don’t expect to be knocking in 150mpg on the daily commute through mixed traffic.

Volvo V60 Plug In Hybrid 2013 white

However, by canny use of the electric-only mode, which can be topped up by using the save for later option to store sufficient battery charge for 12 miles of driving, you can achieve impressive economy in the D6.

Without trying hard, you should be able to achieve the claimed 560 miles per fill of diesel if you use the battery charge to best advantage. In some cases, this will mean driving on battery power alone, while in others you can use the full 281bhp of both motors for swift overtaking.

Stable and sure-footed

Be in no doubt, the Volvo V60 D6 AWD is a quick car when it comes to pressing on over country roads and our spell at the wheel showed it was also a more than able motorway cruiser, whether in electric or hybrid modes.
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