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2012 Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid First Drive Report

 
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Journalists look over the 2011 Volvo V60 PHEV in final preparations before the 2011 Geneva Motor Show

Journalists look over the 2011 Volvo V60 PHEV in final preparations before the 2011 Geneva Motor Show

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When Volvo announced its plans to produce a plug-in hybrid station wagon capable of comfortably seating five, providing reasonable luggage space, a combined fuel economy of 150 miles per gallon, and the ability to tow just under 4,000lbs, many of you told us that you couldn’t wait to find out more.  

So when Volvo invited us to be among the first in the world to sit behind the wheel of one of Volvo’s early V60 PHEV engineering cars at the 2011 Challenge Bibendum in Berlin, Germany, we had to say yes. 

First Glance

Based on the 2011 Volvo V60 station wagon, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid looks no different from its gasoline-engined counterpart at first glance, apart from specially designed lightweight alloy wheels rolling on specially designed eco tires from Pirelli, and the more obvious inclusion of a charging port located near the driver’s door.  Like its rival Chevrolet, Volvo is obviously keen to encourage the driver to use electric rather than fossil fuel power where possible. 

2012 Volvo V60 PHEV

2012 Volvo V60 PHEV

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Internally too there is little to differentiate the V60 PHEV from the standard V60 except from a few additional switches mounted to the center console, a specially-designed leather upholstery and a slightly higher load bay floor, raised to accommodate the V60 PHEV’s 12 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack underneath. 

Familiarity

Sitting behind the wheel of the Volvo V60 PHEV feels reassuringly familiar and dare we say it, normal.  Unlike many other plug-in vehicles where a noticeable nod to over-complicated dash instrumentation seems de rigueur, the V60 PHEV dash is cleaner and more straight-forward. 

In front of the driver is a digital faux-analogue display detailing speed, battery charge and fuel gauge, estimated range and the usual driver safety information we’ve come to expect from Volvo over the years. 

2012 Volvo V60 PHEV

2012 Volvo V60 PHEV

Enlarge Photo

Gear selection is also reassuringly simple and free from gimmicks. Instead of console-mounted selectors shaped like hockey pucks or weird dog-leg maneuvers to chose direction, Volvo has chosen the age-old floor-mounted automatic shifter that requires no special explanation. 

Choose your driving style

Sitting behind the wheel of the V60 PHEV you’re given three main operational modes, each selectable by push-buttons on the center console: Pure, Hybrid and Power. The three modes allow the car to perform at its peak as a pure electric car, a fuel efficient hybrid and a sporty long-distance cruiser.




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Comments (3)
  1. Reading between the lines Volvo is saying they can't compete with the Volt/ Voltec drivetrain. Driving an electric only drivetrain like in the Volt gives you an exhilarating driving experience that no gas only or gas/electric hybrid can give you. Staying under the electric motor's power 100% of the time, not switching to a gas motor at all, gives you seamless traction at every speed. That's what the Volt is famous for. Plus diesel is way too expensive here in the U.S. Smart not to bring this half-baked attempt here to compete with GM.
     
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  2. Reading between the lines Volvo is saying they can't compete with the Volt/ Voltec drivetrain. Driving an electric only drivetrain like in the Volt gives you an exhilarating driving experience that no gas only or gas/electric hybrid can give you. Staying under the electric motor's power 100% of the time, not switching to a gas motor at all, gives you seamless traction at every speed. That's what the Volt is famous for. Plus diesel is way too expensive here in the U.S. Smart not to bring this half-baked attempt here to compete with GM.
     
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  3. Can I go to Europe, buy one, and bring it home with me? I love the 4WD function (I live in the foothills of Colorado) and this would be a perfect car for my purposes.
     
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