Volvo V60 plug-in Hybrid SE Lux
Week ending December 27
Driven this week 204 miles
Christmas comes but once a year, but it is on shopping trips the V60's boot really feels small. In fact, for an estate car, it's very disappointing. The standard V60 only has 430 litres of boot space, but the storage of batteries and other hybrid machinery underneath the floor reduces space in the plug-in hybrid version still further, to a mere 305 litres. Or put another way, it gives the same amount of load space as a BMW 1 Series convertible.
Still, the numbers are irrelevant if it is big enough for what you need. I can fit a set of golf clubs and a trolley in the boot, but not much else. I managed to fit most of the Christmas drink shop in the boot but there is no escaping the fact that space is severely limited. Particularly as you need to store the chunky charging cable under the false floor. Even folding the seats down doesn't give loads of space to play with. Fold the seats in a Volkswagen Golf and you'll have more space for a trip to the tip or weekend battles with boxes at Ikea.
It does have some traditional Volvo load-carrying plus points though. The passenger seat folds flat for loading long items and it has a retractable net which stops big items falling forward, whether the back seats are up or down.
Clever, but in truth, the V60 hybrid is about as impractical an estate car as Volvo has ever made. If carting lots of kit about is what you want to do, you might want to investigate other green options.
Week ending December 20
Driven this week 134 miles
There are two recurring questions I get asked about the V60. The first is ‘How much does it cost?’ and if people can compose themselves quickly enough after getting the answer, the next one is inevitably ‘what does it do to the gallon?’
This is very hard to answer.
According to the clever Volvo ‘On-Call’ iPhone app, which logs every journey in the car and calculates an MPG figure, this week, on three different trips, it has achieved 26.8, 477.4 and 752.7miles to the gallon. All of this makes it very tricky to calculate an accurate economy figure. Essentially though, if the V60 achieves an astronomical economy figure, it is because someone has charged it and not travelled far enough to exhaust the battery.
The fairest way to work things out is to split the figures by the type of journey. For short, local journeys on a full belly of electric power, triple-digit economy figures are the order of the day. On long runs however, where the diesel engine does the bulk of the work, between 47 and 55mpg is the norm. Around town but without battery power to burn, things can drop into the high twenties and thirties.
Ultimately, if the Volvo isn’t economical enough in the sort of running you do, it will never make sense. If you can charge the car easily, get most of your daily driving out of the Volvo’s 30 mile electric range, and are a company car user, things can make sense.
For everyone else however, the high list price and limited opportunity to impress with its real world economy means the figures may never add up, no matter how much you try.
By Nigel Donnelly
Week ending December 13
Driven this week 110 miles
I am a conscientious car owner. I pride myself on it. I grew up with a succession of old bangers to call my own, and caring for crusty metal makes me pretty scrupulous when it comes to ongoing maintenance.
With the onset of winter, I decided to give the car a bit of a check over. I gave it a clean, did the tyre pressures, noted that the boot light has fallen to bits, topped up the windscreen washers but I had to resort to the chunky V60 handbook in order to check the oil. I learned that you need to get in the car, hold the start button down for ten seconds, then scroll through the dashboard menus. In there is the oil level indicator.
I can see the point. It stops you getting dirty and hunting around for the Kleenex to mop the dipstick. It just seems a little more complicated than is strictly necessary. Incidentally, the level showed that in a fraction fewer than 3000 miles, the oil level has dropped by a quarter. I’ll check the handbook again before Christmas to see where I have to top it up. In the ashtray, maybe?