Volvo V60 plug-in Hybrid SE Lux
Week ending April 28
Driven this week 603
Plug-in hybrid cars like the V60 are not really designed with long-distance driving in mind. So far, I've spent most of my time commuting and shuttling back and forth from the tip, golf course and DIY superstores. However, a recent weekend jaunt meant I drove a 600-mile round trip in the V60, taking in Nottingham, Chester, Epping and London.
While the V60 is not the most dynamic weapon with which to tackle a B-road, one thing that it does very well is chomp through motorway miles comfortably. The hybrid system manages itself in the background, but at speed the D5 diesel engine does the bulk of of the work, and does so with relative hush, too. The V60 is refined and the adaptive cruise control system carries you along serenely, even in stop-start traffic. The seats are endlessly adjustable, too.
Economy-wise, the V60 averaged 49.6mpg on the weekend trip, which I consider to be reasonable for a car which is operating so far outside its optimum running conditions. The only disappointment is the V60's reluctance to cooperate with the Ecotricity charging points on the motorway network. Even with the correct RFID charge card, correct connector and following the instructions, the bollard kept telling me it was waiting for a signal from the car, while the V60 doggedly displayed a red light showing that it was connected but not charging. Unless the charging infrastructure works first time, every time, it's hard to see plug-in motoring ever getting a foothold among mainstream motorists.
By Nigel Donnelly
Week ending April 14
Driven this week 279
As I was off to drive the new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV recently, I borrowed Nigel's Volvo V60 to get an understanding of one of the Outlander's main rivals.
The technology in the V60 struck me in several ways. I have been endlessly amazed and amused by the way in which Nigel is able to track exactly where the V60 is, whether the doors are locked or not, and how much fuel you used on recent journeys. It seems ridiculous that you have to pay for this on a car that costs around £50,000, but the tech is impressive nonetheless.
It is a real shame that the Volvo's dash and infotainment system are quite so antiquated given the technology elsewhere in the car. The amount of button pressing and dial twiddling that is needed to input addresses into the sat-nav and change between menus is staggering.
The upcoming Apple CarPlay system that was revealed at the Geneva motor show cannot come soon enough as far as Volvo is concerned.
By Tom Webster