8 months with a Renault Clio

Top Car's Wayne Batty says goodbye to his Renault Clio. It’s not a soppy farewell but the little 'automatique' did its maker proud.

Kia's trendy family pick

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post experiences the upcoming Cerato.

Volvo flaunts first diesel plug-in

2011-12-14 14:15

TRAILBLAZER: Volvo considers its V60 Plug-in Hybrid to be the most technically advanced car it's every created.

Volvo’s V60 plug-in hybrid, described by the automaker as an electric car, a hybrid car and a muscle car, all rolled into one, is being touted as the brand's most technically advanced model yet.

Stefan Jacoby, president and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation, said: "Our (Volvo’s) plug-in hybrid has received considerable attention since it was unveiled at the Geneva auto show in 2011. Now we're taking the next step by presenting the production model, which is graced with a distinctive profile featuring a spectacular silver colour, an exclusive interior and generous standard equipment.”


The car will be launched in one colour only – Electric Silver – although it is also distinguished by special 17” wheels and a number of glossy black exterior finishes. A “Plug-in Hybrid” badge is visible on the lower part of the tail and on the front wings.

This V60’s interior is finished in black leather with contrasting stitching and blue-grey wood accents.

Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid
This V60 showcases the latest tech gadgets from Volvo, but production will be limited to 1000 units in the first year.

Perhaps more important than the level of interior trim, is the fact this is the first Volvo to bear the D6 badge. Volvo’s reasoning? The combined output of the five-cylinder turbodiesel engine with the electric motor, puts the pairing in the same horsepower range as the petrol turbocharged T6.   

The front wheels of the V60 Plug-in Hybrid are powered by a five-cylinder 2.4-litre turbodiesel producing 160kW and maximum torque is 440 Nm.

The rear axle is driven by an electric motor producing 52kW, which receives its power supply from an 11.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack installed in the floor of the load area. An integrated computer monitors the system and compares temperature and charge level in each of the 200 cells. The battery pack also has an integrated water-cooling system driven by the car's climate unit.

The car is fitted with a six-speed automatic transmission and drivers have a choice of three driving modes that can be selected at the touch of a button.

The three driving modes – Pure, Hybrid and Power – are said to give the plug-in three different moods.


Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid

PURE PLEASURE: The Plug-on Hybrid is distinguished by special badging on the tailgate and front wings.

In Pure mode, the car is mostly powered by its electric motor and, if the battery pack is fully recharged, have a range up to 51km but this will vary according to the terrain, climate and driving style.

The Hybrid mode is the default setting on start-up, while in Power model the diesel engine and electric motor work simultaneously to deliver the peak combined output.

There’s also a function that allows the driver to conserve the car’s battery power for a period when it would be ideal to drive on battery power alone. If necessary, the high-tension alternator will charge the battery back to ensure there’s sufficient capacity for Pure driving with a range of about 20km.

The V60 Plug-in Hybrid can be recharged from a regular power outlet, and will take anything from 4 to 8 hours, depending on the amperage.

Other cool battery car features are the ability to heat or cool the passenger compartment while recharging the car and a function to cool the battery pack to keep it within the optimal operating temperature of 20-30°C.

This V60 has a clever all-wheel drive system, too. Instead of the conventional method of transferring power mechanically, a central control unit distributes power between the diesel-driven front wheels and the electrically-driven rear axle for better grip in testing conditions.


Given the electric motor’s instant torque availability, torque to the rear wheels is limited and four-wheel drive is only active up to 120km/h.

The Volvo plug-in also has the use of a two-stage braking system that, when the driver presses the brake pedal, the system starts braking the electric motor and this energy is then used to recharge the car’s battery pack.

In another sign of the times, this is the first Volvo to be launched with an entirely digital Driver Information Monitor (DIM) that allows the driver to choose which information to show in the car’s menu.

It is also possible to communicate with the car via a mobile app that allows the driver to control certain features (such as air conditioning) remotely and allows the car to issue reminders to the driver.

Sales of the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid start in 2012 with production, when it starts in November 2012 for model year 2013, limited to 1000 units. Production will increase to between 4000 and 6000 vehicles for model year 2014, the company said.

Inside Wheels24

Take a virtual tour of the McLaren 570S in SA

Want to experience what it's like to be behind the wheel of a 419kW sports car? Take a virtual tour of the McLaren 570S in our interactive Snapchat video filmed in SA.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.