The Volvo V60 estate is the epitome of Swedish understatement, further enhanced by the addition of a hybrid power plant offering 34 miles of electric-powered silence. As hybrid tech becomes a must-have for diesel-shunning company car buyers in particular, how does this premium estate car fare against rivals such as the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class? This Volvo V60 review will measure it up.
The advantage of the Volvo V60 Recharge is that you can charge the 11.6kWh battery to 80% in approximately three hours using your standard plug sockets at home. If you invest in a 7kW home charger, you can reach 100% in about 1.5 hours. However, to get the best out of the hybrid system you will need to keep it topped up, otherwise, all you will have is a rather thirsty petrol engine, which takes away all the benefits of having the hybrid in the first place.
The V60 does allow you to drive purely on electric power for up to 34 miles for the best fuel economy, and you can toggle through other driving modes to maximise battery range or performance depending on the road conditions and your journey. The V60 also features brake regeneration to help prop up the range if you are heading cross country on longer journeys, because it is much more economical when it is using battery power.
The 253bhp model claims up to 157 miles per gallon when you make the most of the hybrid tech in optimal conditions, with the 318bhp returning 128mpg. The Polestar version will return slightly less. If you let the battery run down, expect around 40mpg, so to get the full benefit make sure you keep it topped up.
Company car drivers will be very pleased with its 10% benefit in kind (BIK) tax level, due in no small part to the plug-in hybrid aspect. This is far less than standard petrol or diesel model, but clearly this will have to be balanced against the higher purchase price.
Road tax for the V60 is a reasonable £145 per year, which is less than its petrol or diesel siblings.
You will also need to take into account the cost of servicing the engine, and as Volvo is a premium brand this will never be especially cheap, but of course you will get the full dealership experience.
The V60 is only offered with an 8-speed automatic gearbox, which can sometimes feel a little indecisive, and does impact the driving experience if you want to get a move on, but in normal driving conditions, it is smooth, refined and uneventful.
The sheer power of the engine means that you barely notice the extra weight of the battery pack, but while the V60 is a performance car quick, the handling is not quite so. It is not quite as engaging to drive as a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4, but you cannot help but raise a smile at the blistering acceleration, which puts the V60 almost in Mercedes AMG or Audi RS territory. The V60 T6 will reach 60mph in 5.2 seconds, the T8 in 4.4 seconds, and Polestar engineered cars will get there quicker still. You can't quite believe that all this comes from a 2.0-litre engine.
The power delivery and auto gearbox allow for a lazy driving experience, and the V60 is happiest driving on a fast road at 70mph, with the cruise control on. The engine starts and stops when it needs to without any vibration or drama, or any noticeable effect on performance.
Four-wheel drive comes as standard on all V60 models, getting the power down on to the road better than front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive alone would, and ensuring optimum traction in line with Volvo's safety principles. The R Design version has stiffer suspension, and the Polestar V60 also has adjustable dampers, so it is worth test driving a couple of versions to choose the right one.
It's safe to say that a Volvo is not a square box any longer, like its estate cars always used to be. The V60 is an attractive car, make no mistake. It hides its size well, with smooth features and an elegant, classy profile, which is arguably more attractive than its S60 sister and gives it better road presence. Bright daytime running lights (remember Volvo was among the first to have always-on lights as a safety feature) and a prominent grille dominate the front end, and the window line curves up towards the rear of the car to meet the sloping roofline, helping it look less boxy. Even the boot lid is nicely sculpted, hiding the size of the rear access nicely.
The Volvo V60 is available in three models - Inscription, R Design and Polestar. The Inscription and R Design come with 18" alloy wheels as standard, with 19"s on the Polestar. R Design and Polestar trim cars come with extra sporty touches on the body such as a black grille to give it a sportier profile on the road, and add a little drama. The Volvo V60 itself is available as a pumped up V60 Cross Country version too, but this is not currently available in the V60 twin engine range and does not feature in these reviews.
The V60 Recharge looks just like a petrol or diesel version, with the addition of an extra flap on one of the front wings to give access to the charging port.
The estate boot lid opens up to reveal a low loading lip and a huge load area, with plenty of space which can be increased further by folding the rear seats down. Access for larger items is no problem with the Volvo V60.
The first thing to notice about the cabin is Volvo's infotainment system, with a portrait, tablet-style touchscreen dominating the centre console. This system is nice to use and you can move from menu to menu intuitively, but it can be a little slow to respond sometimes. The standard sat nav and infotainment is nice, but unfortunately Apple Car Play and Android Audio are optional extras.
The driver is rewarded with a spacious, high class cabin with plenty of equipment as standard, as well as a large choice of optional extras. The interior is well put together and everything feels nice to interact with, even down to the stitched leather-trimmed automatic gearbox selector. Expect a smattering of sporty touches in R Design and Polestar trim just to liven the interior up a little, including sports seats with leather trim.
The dashboard will be recognisable to anyone familiar with the Volvo V60 or S60, with the addition of a power indicator and mode selector for the hybrid system. The seats are comfortable, and there is plenty of space in the rear seats for adult passengers to sit comfortably. Swedish simplicity is the order of the day on board the Volvo V60 estate, and the thoughtful design includes plenty of cubbies and pockets for storage. And if all this space isn't enough, you can look to the V90, the bigger sibling to the V60, which has even more cabin space and a larger boot.
Safety is where Volvo stakes its reputation, and the V60 is no different. Inspired by challenging Swedish driving conditions, Volvo has traditionally been among the pathfinders in safety technology and automatic systems including airbags, anti-whiplash seats and radar technology.
To that end, the Volvo V60 estate comes with a raft of safety and driver assist equipment as standard, including parking sensors, oncoming lane mitigation, two-stage airbags, an inflatable airbag curtain and a whiplash injury protection system.
All of this equipment and the other features of the Volvo V60 helped earn it a full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test. You can be pretty well assured that the interior of a Volvo V60 is one of the safest places for you and your family in the event of the unthinkable.
The Volvo V60 Recharge is a premium car with some of the latest hybrid technology on board. This means that it also comes with a premium price tag.
It comes in three models - the entry-level R Design model starts at £45,825 on the road, rising to £46,750 for the Inscription, and £52,200 for the Polestar Engineered trim. With the V60 Volvo chose a starting trim level quite high in the range.
There are some deals available at present with some 0% finance offers, and in latest news it comes with a free home wallbox charger. Volvo now even offers you the chance to subscribe to the Volvo of your choice, including the V60. You choose the car you want and subscribe to it for a particular number of months before swapping it for a new one. This is a great choice for people who don't want the hassle of lengthy PCP agreements or leases.
If the price of the V60 Recharge proves to be a little prohibitive for your budget, then there is also a mild hybrid version of the V60 to offer some of the benefits at a lower price point (including the Cross Country if that is the version that really takes your fancy).