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Volvo V60 plug-in diesel hybrid

Range anxiety won't be an issue given the diesel's fuel use and 45-litre tank should give it a 1000km cruise between tanks.

The plug-in diesel-electric hybrid claims a sprint time of 6.2 seconds and fuel use of just 1.9 litres/100km. But if the performance and economy numbers are good, the price may put buyers off.

Volvo Cars Australia boss Matt Braid says he hopes to have the V60 D6 hybrid wagon on sale for less than $100,000. He'll need to sharpen the pencil, given the petrol-powered version of the same car starts from $68,000. Admittedly, the plug-in diesel hybrid will use bugger-all fuel but even if the car lands for $90,000, the $20,000 difference will buy a lot of petrol.

Braid says the V60 D6 will showcase Volvo's technology. "It's a niche model, volumes won't be massive, but it shows where we are on hybrids," he notes. "This car makes more sense for us than the (pure electric) C30 drivE. The lease and buyback arrangement Volvo has in Europe won't work for us in Australia. That makes the V60 the smartest showcase of our next-generation drivetrains."

The D6 wagon's front wheels are powered by a 158kW/440Nm 2.4-litre turbodiesel. A 50kW/200Nm electric motor drives the rear axle, meaning the Volvo can run as a front, rear and all-wheel drive car depending on which of the three drive modes, pure, hybrid and power, it is operating in.

Hybrid is the default mode when the car is started.  A gauge on the dash shows when power demand dictated by the right foot pressure  looks like kicking in the diesel to boost performance. Drivers can then either ease off to stay in electric mode, or feel a tiny jolt as the diesel fires up to join the party.

Electric-only range is claimed to be around 50km at 100km/h but range anxiety won't be an issue given the diesel's fuel use and 45-litre tank should give it a 1000km cruise between tanks. The first batch of 1000 V60 D6 hybrids will be sold in Europe, with Australia joining the queue when full production of 4000-6000 cars, or 10 to 15 per cent of all V60s starts next year.