Home / Reviews / First Drive / Volvo V60 D6 Plug-in Hybrid First Drive Review – Swedish Alternative Metal

 

 2015 Volvo V60 D6 Plug-in Hybrid 1 web

We’ve driven an alternative-powered Volvo V60 in Göteburg and come away very happy and highly impressed with the diesel plug-in hybrid.


Story: Jim Gorde
Photography: Volvo Car Corporation

Let’s face reality for a little while here. There are a lot of people who yell ‘Powerrr!!!’ and swear by high-octane petrol, this writer included, but, deep down, we all realise that there is no way our planet can sustain high-performance mobility if a massive chunk of the regular commuter population doesn’t switch to cleaner, greener fuel. Fossil fuels are not the coolest things around and global warming is definitely the hot topic when any argument arises in this regard. Yes, there are many theories about global warming, and someone even said it doesn’t exist, and that the sun, being a star, is nearing the end of its life and so, is burning hotter and brighter than it was before. Even if its life still has a few million years to go, it made me spare a though bubble.

There are several manufacturers around who have many models with alternative power and all kinds of batteries and motors and fuel cells and other animals other than horses providing motive force. But, we were in Sweden, and since Volvo was kind enough to let us loose on a closed private track with many of their models, we thought this would be a nice way to experience the unconventionally-powered ‘D6’-specification first hand. Here is how it goes about business.

Motorraum, Motor D6 AWD

So, the D6. Now we know there are D3, D4 and D5 models, but D6? Yes, it’s the D5+1 so to speak. The 2.4-litre inline-five twin-turbo diesel does duty up front, driving the front wheels with its 215 PS and 440 Nm of torque going through the six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. However, the +1 is an interesting prospect here because it is a 51-kW (70-PS equivalent) electric motor on the rear axle driving the rear wheels. It also makes 200 Nm of torque.

So, the first thing you should know is that the engine is performing multiple roles, but is never working overtime. One, it powers the front wheels. Two, it recharges the battery pack which powers the rear electric motor. And three, when you push the ‘Power’ button, which is discussed later, it works in tandem with the electric motor to deliver up to 640 Nm of torque. Got your interest now?

There isn’t one main feature on the V60 D6, there are several. For one, there are three drive modes – Pure, Hybrid and Power – which effectively let you have three cars in one.

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Pure: Here, the V60 D6 is running purely on electricity. The electric motor drives the car so there are absolutely zero emissions and fuel consumption. Maximum range is 50 kilometres and the top speed in this mode is 120 km/h. You can drive around in Pure all you want, until the battery pack starts to lose it. Fret not, because the motor kicks in and the car switches to ‘Hybrid’ mode.

Hybrid: The V60’s D5 diesel kicks in to charge the battery pack so you can continue to drive on clean electric power. Moreover, if you put your foot down hard, the motor also powers the front wheels to some extent. However, it primarily acts as a generator, delivering over 50 km/l in the process. Even with the reduced 45-litre fuel tank, you may think you have a good 2,000-plus kilometres before you need to fill up, but in the real world, you can achieve close to 1,000 kilometres to the tankful.

Power: If spirited driving is what the situation calls for with an empty highway and fast-fading daylight, you can have the full 285 PS and up to 640 Nm of torque at your beck and call. The top speed is 230 km/h, but the lag-free driving experience is what really opened my eyes.

Another important feature to factor in are those the full Volvo IntelliSafe suite of advanced safety equipment brings. City Safety is standard, and you can also have adaptive cruise control and loads of creature comforts. The only negative, when compared to the conventionally-powered model, is the raised boot floor, which means you can’t pack that sofa you wanted, and have to make do with a couple of deck-chairs instead.

Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid R-Design

So, the track experience then. Approaching the pit exit, I switched to ‘Pure’ and slowly pushed the smaller pedal. Apart from a strange, near imperceptible whirr, there was no other sound but I was moving along at a good 40 km/h already. The first thing on the course is a rather steep hill which was dismissed without a bat of the electric motor’s eyelid. Into the long left-hander, I began to develop a nice feel for the way it drove. I sped up a little, the V60 automatically feeding me the speed limits from the signs it passed alongside. The next set of left-right corners failed to upset the balance of this near two-tonne car. With a long straight approaching, I switched to ‘Hybrid’ mode. Another whirr joined the sound wagon, and I suddenly was moving more quickly each time I put my foot down. A tight left-hander and a long right-hander later, I was almost on the main straight. I pushed the ‘Power’ button, waited a full half-second, and put my foot firmly down!

2015 Volvo V60 D6 Plug-in Hybrid 2 web

Unleashing over 600 twists and close to 300 horses never sounded so subtle. Nevertheless, the V60 lunged forward and crossed the start/finish line at over 100 km/h, in the few inches or so of space that I’d given the car to accelerate. The entire next lap was a mix of wide smiles and nervous-faced corrections on the steering wheel. Yes, it gave good feedback, and the ride was impeccable and the feeling of safety cannot be ignored to the point when you actually think that trying all sorts of stupid things is a wise idea. Before I could put them all to practice, however, the lap was over.

For a power-hungry gearhead, I have to say I was very happy to understand that not all electric cars have to be plastic boxes on wheels which have a drained battery before you’ve even gotten half way past your favourite song on the stereo. It’s great as a daily-driver, comfortable, smooth, refined and doesn’t cost the earth to run. However, at Rs 50 lakh (in the UK, with their generous subsidies), it does cost quite a bit to acquire, and that is a significant consideration, I have to say. I sincerely hope the future will have an economies-of-scale factor kick in, and hard.

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Recharge Options

The V60 D6 Plug-in Hybrid is vastly dependent on having a its juice topped up using a power socket, rather than the diesel engine or energy recovery systems. It can be recharged from a regular power outlet (230V/6A, 10A or 16A fuse) at home or in a parking lot. The time taken varies with amperage. A full charge with 10A takes 4.5 hours. This is reduced to 3.5 hours with 16A, while a 6A charge takes 7.5 hours.


Need to Know – Volvo V60 D6 Plug-in Hybrid

Combustion Engine: 2,400 cc, in-line five, twin-turbocharged, diesel
Max Power: 215 PS at 4,000 rpm
Max Torque: 440 Nm at 1,500-3,000 rpm
Transmission: Six-speed, automatic, front-wheel drive
Electric Motor: DC, 51 kW (70 PS), 200 Nm, rear-wheel drive
Net Peak Output: 285 PS, 640 Nm, electric all-wheel drive
Weight: 1,965 kg

 

About the author: Jim Gorde

 

Automotive Correspondent at Bike India and Car India.
Believes that learning never stops. Loves V8 engines as much as a good breakfast.
t: @BikeIndia / @CarIndia

 

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