Recharged and rebooted
- Credit: Volvo
The XC60 is Volvo’s best-seller and the plug-in hybrid Recharge models only extend its appeal
What’s the first thing that pops into your head when someone says Volvo? If it’s the big, boxy estate cars once beloved of antiques dealers, you may be in for a shock.
The Swedish brand’s top three best-sellers last year were all SUVs. In fact, the XC60 that you see here not only topped that list, but it comfortably outsold all of the company’s non-SUV models combined.
It’s not hard to see why. Smartly styled, packed with safety gear (some things at Volvo don’t change) and big enough to seat five in comfort, the XC60 is pretty much the definition of a modern family car.
UNDER THE BONNET
There’s no fully-electric option in the XC60 range, but Volvo has all the other bases covered, with mild-hybrid petrol and diesel models, plus a choice of two plug-in hybrid petrols.
We’ve gone for the lower output plug-in hybrid, the T6, which still boasts a very respectable 0-to-62mph time of 5.7 seconds and a claimed all-electric range of 48 miles with the new 18.8kWh battery (up from 11.6kWh in the old car).
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A recent series of updates have given the XC60 a renewed sparkle, and its most noticeable with the slick new Android-powered infotainment system.
Want to know how much battery charge you’ll have when you reach your destination or where the nearest charging stations are en route? You can ask the voice control system without ever having to take your eyes off the road.
The heater controls are less successful in this regard, being entirely operated via the touchscreen and not the easiest buttons to locate. In other respects, though, it remains a good interior. The seats are comfy, the visibility is excellent and the XC60’s cabin is well laid out, if a little generic compared to some of its rivals.
HOW IT DRIVES
In plug-in hybrid form, the XC60 wafts around in virtual silence most of the time. Even when the petrol engine does kick in it can be hard to detect unless you’re accelerating hard.
You’re similarly isolated from the rest of the driving experience, with soft suspension that prioritises comfort over any notions of sportiness. By and large it does this very well, although there are other premium SUVs that deliver a more rewarding drive with comparable levels of refinement.
The ace up the Volvo’s sleeve is its hybrid system. For long motorway journeys, most owners would be better served by a diesel, but on shorter trips, the plug-in hybrid can be spectacularly economical, with 100+mpg entirely achievable if the battery is fully charged before you set off.
In fact, you may never need to use the petrol engine at all in day-to-day driving. We didn’t have a chance to put the latest XC60’s electric-only range to the test, but experience of the previous model suggests that around 75 per cent of the claimed range is realistic in real world conditions. This equates to approximately 36 miles of driving without using a single drop of fuel.
The XC60 isn’t a car that sets out to redefine the rulebook. Instead, it’s a quietly self-assured offering that majors on Volvo’s traditional brand values of safety, practicality and comfort.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Volvo XC60 Recharge T6 Plus £57,650 (range from £45,160)
Engine: 1,969cc petrol, plug-in hybrid, 4-cylinder, 350hp, all-wheel drive, 8-speed automatic gearbox
Performance: 0 to 62mph in 5.7 seconds; top speed 112mph
Fuel economy: 217.0 to 282.1mpg (WLTP)
CO2 emissions: 23 to 30g/km