From £31,5507
Swedish performance estate brings the versatility of pure-electric driving to the class

Our Verdict

Volvo V60 2018 road test review hero front

Volvo's reborn estate has a svelte image and upmarket aspirations. How does the V60 stack up against the likes of Mercedes and BMW?

12 November 2019
Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine 2019 UK

What is it?

The V60 T8 Twin Engine is, to these eyes, an extremely attractive family car wrapped around the most powerful and sophisticated powertrain Volvo currently offers (£140,000 Polestar 1 notwithstanding). As denoted by the 'T8' moniker, it's also a plug-in hybrid, with a real-world electric range of around 25 miles. 

A ‘Polestar Engineered’ version with Brembo brakes, adjustable Öhlins dampers and sharper handling exists and will shortly arrive in the UK with an even greater sense of anonymous cool, though we’re yet to sample that car and at nearly £60,000 it is sure to be a rare sight. 

Even at £50,905, the V60 T8 Twin Engine is hardly cheap, and costs almost exactly what you’ll pay for the V6-engined Mercedes-AMG C43 Estate. It’s a clique that also includes the latest Audi S4 Avant, with its ultra-smooth mild-hybrid V6 turbodiesel, and the BMW M340i xDrive Touring, whose new 369bhp straight six is the best of the lot. 

The upshot is this: only with Volvo do you get less than six cylinders for your circa-380bhp, fifty-grand estate, though the V60 T8 Twin Engine has the environmentally friendly USP of being the only one capable of pure-electric running. Depending on your priorities, already you'll be either repelled or enticed by the concept.  

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The powertrain uses a transversely mounted 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol both turbocharged and supercharged to drive the front wheels. With no central coupling, the rear axle is driven by an electric motor, with the 11.6kWh battery (larger than previous T8 interactions) laying along the spine of the chassis but well within the wheelbase. As such, the standard V60's impressive 529 litres of boot space is undiminished.

What's it like?

This being a contemporary Volvo, and particularly one of high specification, the V60 T8 gets a comfortingly high-sided but spacious cabin of soft leathers, contrast stitching and artful metal trim. If you had to drive the length of the country this evening, with seats like these there’d be scant cause for complaint, and there’s also absolutely no pretension concerning what the V60 T8’s German rivals would term ‘sportiness’. Which is quite refreshing.     

But the cabin is a bellwether for the dynamics. With the twin-charged engine and electric motor together delivering 381bhp and a heap of torque, the T8 moves well for a car weighing more than two tonnes but it doesn’t relish corners, changing direction in composed but disinterested fashion. And except for a token improvement in balance, it makes little difference whether the electric rear axle is moving under its own power or not. What you’re left with is a very quick estate whose steering is a touch numb, whose body control is too relaxed and whose weight is simply too present to ever let it get under the driver’s skin.

Better to sit back and treat the top-billing V60 as the fast, luxurious and superbly refined cruiser it wants to be. Admittedly, B-roads can tease some brittleness out of the suspension, whose rates are presumably increased over lesser V60 models on account of the increased mass and bigger cornering forces, but mainly it’s assured, calm and fluid. And despite the fact this powertrain has now been around in some form or other since 2016, the handover between pure-electric and engine-on hybrid operation still feels remarkably uneventful. 

The same cannot be said for those times when both barrels are required – the electric rear axle responds quickly but insipidly, and the gearbox then takes too long to get itself in the required gear the upshot being a noticeable delay before both power sources are pulling as one. Other manufacturer systems, which channel everything through the transmission, fare better in this respect, and behave more intuitively. 

The PHEV practicalities boil down to a 4.5m charging cable and its ability to fully replenish the car’s lithium-ion battery at a rate of six miles per hour from anything more serious than a three-pin domestic plug socket. The claimed WLTP range is 32 miles, though on evidence of this test, you’d be unlikely to achieve that on quicker A-roads. Carbon dioxide emissions of only 39g/km do however mean the V60 T8 is extremely cheap to tax, and is likely to duck any penalties for urban emissions-charging zones in the foreseeable future.

Should I buy one?

This is a familiar story. If your commute can be completed largely using the V60 T8’s electric range and you can charge at work, you have arguably found yourself a four-and-a-half-star car. The Volvo's long-range manners are excellent, its hybrid system doesn't impinge on luggage space, and never, once the powertrain is fired up, are you going to be caught short while overtaking. The car’s thoughtful design, both inside and out, also gives it a level of primal desirability lacking in some rivals. 

Equally, if you rely heavily on what is quite a highly tuned engine that doesn’t in isolation deliver particularly good efficiency, then the fuel bills are going to frustrate. And if you want a rewarding driver’s car that can double-up as a do-anything family wagon, look elsewhere, starting at a BMW dealer. In the same vein, if you want a powertrain traditionally worthy of a £50,000 premium car, remember you’re only getting four cylinders here while everything else gets six. And if all of the above applies, the V60 T8 Twin Engine is more of a three-star car. 

For now, let’s settle somewhere in between, and acknowledge that when BMW gets around to building the Touring version of the new 330e, that car’s superior electric range, slicker hybrid powertrain calibration and entertaining handling will make it our choice.

Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine specification

Where Surrey Price £50,905 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls, 1969cc, turbocharged and supercharged, petrol, plus electric motor Power 299bhp at 6000rpm (petrol), 86bhp (petrol), 381bhp (combined) Torque 295lb ft at 2200-4800rpm (petrol), 472lb ft (combined) Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 2061kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 4.9sec Fuel economy 113-166mpg (WLTP) CO2 39g/km Rivals Mercedes-Benz C350e, BMW 330e

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Comments
11

12 November 2019

An overweight, £60k, 2.0 4 pot that doesn't like corners and an electric motor that argues with the gearbox when you boot it. And don't get me started on not having knobs and dials!

BMW own this segment IMHO.

12 November 2019
xxxx wrote:

An overweight, £60k, 2.0 4 pot that doesn't like corners and an electric motor that argues with the gearbox when you boot it. And don't get me started on not having knobs and dials!

BMW own this segment IMHO.

Well guess what, youre wrong which isnt unusual, firstly its £50k not 60, and BMW dont offer a hybrid 3 series estate, so how exactly can they own a segment they are not in? 

Oh and by the way, the 330e  (salooon only) is also a 20. 4 pot, but with significantly less power, and its also slower,  BMW 330e Saloon 0-60mph 6.0 seconds, V60 Estate 0-60 4.9 seconds and top speed BMW 143, V60 155, so to say it argues when you boot it, it would appear the performance figures say otherwise, and dont get me started on the poor interior of the 3 series, and the drab dashboard that could easily be from a 1 series. 

Then of couse,when you look at the spec, the BMW is somewhat lacking, and of course there is the fact its a 3 series or in other words a repmobile. 

13 November 2019
Citytiger wrote:
xxxx wrote:

An overweight, £60k, 2.0 4 pot that doesn't like corners and an electric motor that argues with the gearbox when you boot it. And don't get me started on not having knobs and dials!

BMW own this segment IMHO.

Well guess what, youre wrong which isnt unusual, firstly its £50k not 60, and BMW dont offer a hybrid 3 series estate, so how exactly can they own a segment they are not in? 

...

Well guess what you'll there to tell me I don't prefer something else, in this case (a £60k overpriced and over spec'd) a BMW, to an overpriced V60 (even at £51k). Please get back to your Volvo dealership and let others including Autocar have an OPINION 

12 November 2019

Looks a reasonable proposition.  But those central air vents - much too small. 

You need to make them bigger, Volvo...

12 November 2019

I have to agree with xxxx. It sounds like a very flawed car. Perhaps it would be better with a simpler PHEV drivetrain. Say a 1.5 triple and an electric motor. That would keep the weight down a little and perhaps the price too. 0-60 in say 7-8 seconds and a 50 mile electric range. Then ditch any sporty aspirations and enjoy a comfy and relaxed Volvo.

12 November 2019

with electric Alfa Guila coupe and what looks to be the DOA Focus RS. elec tech waits for solid state batteries 

12 November 2019

with electric Alfa Guila coupe and what looks to be the DOA Focus RS. elec tech waits for solid state batteries 

13 November 2019
Xxxx is right. Overweight and its 11.5 kw battery will have a life of 30 to 40 minutes, if the car is driven electric only. Most people who buy these cars on company car schemes are only interested in the income tax savings they create and many never bother to keep them charged up, making them less efficient than a pure ice car. When I get to rule the world, I would ban all phevs that can't do a minimum of 80 miles electric only and have more than 50 percent of their power from the ice.

13 November 2019
Most people don't charge them? I'm sure that can't be right, yes there is a tax saving but surely if you bought this over say the AMG, you'd have chosen it because you want the performance with lower fuel cost, if I had it most of my commutes would be electric only, I could probably go 2 days on a charge so it would cost pence to run, but when I need to go further I have the luxury and comfort this car brings, along with hybrid drive which can help keep the fuel economy reasonable for a large estate, and a decent turn of pace for the odd overtake as required. I like it if not the price, but do agree with the touch screen replacing buttons, not a trend I am keen on.

13 November 2019

that was designed with technical and philosophical dogma as a start point instead of good engineering sense.

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