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Driven: Volvo’s V60 Plug-In Hybrid

The Volvo V60 PHEV (plug-in hybrid) will not be coming to South Africa because our electricity is still too dirty – meaning that electric cars still do more harm than an efficient diesel. Our UK correspondent Jamie Merrill tells us what we’re missing…

The marketing blurb for the new Volvo V60 estate reads “Switch to pure Volvo”. My Volvo-loving mate James won’t be impressed, though. He had a second-hand 1990s Volvo 740 estate with two rear-facing seats (remember the fun you used to have in those?) back when we were at university. He was the drummer in a band that played progressive metal in fancy dress and he used his chunky wagon to cart his drums around. It was, he claimed, the perfect car for a university band.

James will undoubtedly hope that its new slogan means the Swedish firm (now Chinese-owned) is to return to its roots of making boxy estates that carry lots of stuff. James, you see, is a Volvo purist who thinks the firm lost its way under Ford (the previous owner) by producing dubiously sized estates. That’s why he likes to accidentally on purpose confuse modern Volvos with tiny Korean city cars – the sort of car that is unsuitable for carrying drum kits.

Sadly for James, the firm isn’t going backwards but has instead embraced electric power. It shouldn’t be a massive surprise; Volvo has always blazed a technological trail. It introduced the first easy-fit seatbelt in 1959 and the world’s first airbag in 1994, while last year it demonstrated the world’s first pedestrian airbag.

Enter the new V60 Plug-In Hybrid. It’s a standard V60 estate – think pretty coupe-like styling but, by old Volvo standards, a limited boot – with the nifty addition of a 51kW electric motor and battery to drive the rear wheels.
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