Volvo V60 plug-in Hybrid SE Lux
Week ending February 21
Driven this week 311 miles
A word association game involving my Volvo V60 would immediately bring a few descriptive terms to mind. With two charge cables, three drive modes, rear- or front-wheel drive, a plug-in hybrid drivetrain and a 3G dongle in the glove box, ‘clever’ would be in there. I’d suggest ‘quiet’ too, although some colleagues are troubled by the D5 engine’s gravelly baritone as it switches from electric to diesel power. ‘Brisk’ too, although I wouldn’t go so far as fast, given the weight penalty imposed by all that aforementioned clever stuff.
One word which unites all comers to the V60, however, is ‘comfort’. The V60 is a seriously comfy car. The seats are broad, plump and have a generous range of adjustment which means that, big or small, you’ve got a supreme chance of getting yourself settled in the cockpit of the Volvo. The steering wheel reach adjustment does not retreat as far as I would ideally like, but that is a nitpick, based on the fact that in every other way, I can get the car to seat me pretty perfectly.
The cabin is also a relaxing place to spend time. The displays are easy to read, the surfaces feel classy, and the whole dashboard looks very well resolved. It gives little away in terms of fit and finish to German rivals, although some rationalisation of the many buttons on the lower dashboard would improve the ergonomic experience somewhat. That aside, it is a very pleasant place to command the car from.
By Nigel Donnelly
Week ending February 14
Driven this week 311 miles
I once moved a three-seat sofa in the boot of an old Volvo estate – it slid comfortably up against the back seats and the rear hatch closed first time with an unobstructed ‘clunk’. So, when I needed to ferry five plus luggage from London to Bristol last weekend, I figured our V60 hybrid would have it covered.
In the passenger cabin, it pretty much nailed it. After a few moments sliding the front seats around, every one of us had room for heads and feet, and from those in the back there was no complaint about the amount of shoulder-room on offer. However, there was a rucksack and a cake tin awkwardly jammed in the front footwell.
Our digital editor Nigel Donnelly has a favourite frustrating fact: he could fit as much in the boot of a BMW 1 Series convertible as in his V60. With the Volvo's boot filled to the roof, I was feeling his pain – the mix of four-wheel-drive components and batteries for the hybrid system eat up so much load capacity that my rear view was blocked and my passenger had room for only one of his feet.
Space isn’t everything, however. The sofa-swallowing second-hand Volvo 740 of my former life couldn’t offer chairs you would happily choose to sit in. In two hours of cheerful conversation not once did any of us complain (although occasionally the middle rear passenger struggled to resist the urge to find a footrest between the front seats).
Also helpful in M4 mile-munching was Spotify, served up by the Asteroid-powered entertainment system. Nigel stifled a giggle as he remotely pre-loaded three of my favourite album choices using the Spotify app, but they helped pass the time, the only minor irritation coming at a fuel stop when switching off the ignition reset the music selection.
On the subject of diesel, the average consumption for the trip worked out at just above 40mpg, far better than the 20 I managed during the following morning’s in-town commute, not helped by the fact the batteries were long exhausted by then. This is, I suppose, an interesting point. Could I do without the electric assistance in favour of a bit more room? For regular motorway miles, yes, and if I ever did want to carry a sofa.
By Paul Regan
Week ending February 7
Driven this week 210 miles
As with other Volvos, the V60's wing mirrors are automatically programmed to tip downwards when you reverse park, to give you a better view of your wheels as you approach the kerb and help avoid a scrape. However, when I borrowed the V60 hybrid last weekend, this set-up proved more trouble than it's worth.
Unless you stop what you're doing to press the L or R button on the mirror control, the dipping mirrors remove any view of the cars behind or vehicles coming up the street behind you. That seems potentially dangerous if you go to adjust your trajectory, so you have to return to first gear and wait for the mirrors to right themselves before you can proceed, which seems to take an interminable amount of time when all you want to do is park.
Fortunately you can disable the mirror dipping through the car's infotainment system; once I'd had found this option, that's exactly what I did.
By Alex Newby