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Volvo V60 D6 2012 Review

Volvo has unveiled plans to launch a hybrid version of its S60 wagon in Australia. But unlike other hybrids already available here, this one's a little different because it combines a diesel with an electric motor.

The result is a car that is capable of achieving the amazingly low fuel consumption figures of 1.9 litres/100km - yet still post a time of 6.2 seconds for the 0-100km/h dash. It's a plug-in hybrid which means you can simply plug it into a wall socket if the battery is running low, an operation that takes as little as 3.5 hours for a full charge depending on the number of amps you feed it.

With a small 45 litre tank it can travel more than 1000km on a single tank of fuel. Sounds too good to be true.

SWEDEN

Speaking in Sweden this week, Volvo Cars Australia boss Matt Braid revealed the company hoped to have the car here and on sale before the end of next year. "It's a demonsration of our technology and what we can offer, but the volumes obviously won't be massive,'' he said.

"With Polestar at the other end of the market, we'll have both ends covered.'' Polestar is Volvo's high performance brand of which we are sure to be seeing much more in the near future.

BACK TO THE HYBRID

The V60 D6 AWD wagon is equipped with a 158kW 2.4-litre turbo diesel engine that drives the front wheels and a 50kW electric motor that drives the rear wheels, either separately or together - making it rear wheel drive, front wheel drive or all-wheel drive at the push of a button. It is capable of operating in one of the drive modes.

In pure electric or `EV' mode it can travel for a distance of up to 50km, depending on how fast you're travelling (the faster you go the quicker it chews through the charge in its lithium-ion batteries). Top speed in EV mode is 120km/h.

The wagon can also operate in full hybrid mode (the default mode) during which power is regenerated to recharge the batteries. And, in power mode, the diesel and electric motors team up to drive both sets of wheels, providing up to 208kW of power and 640Nm of torque in total.

THE DOWNSIDE?

The price, mainly. In Sweden the car retails for 560,000 Krona with the help of a tax break from the Government. In Australian dollars that's about $80,000 (or $12,000 more than the equivalent petrol powered T6 AWD model). But remember, that's with a tax break (the Australian Goverment hasn't been exactly helpful in this department to date).

Mr Braid said it is too early to start talking about prices for the car yet, but he hopes to offer it for less than $100,000. That's probably a bit optomistic. We think $75,000 is closer to the mark - anymore than this and buyers are likely to reject the hybrid as an option.

"We hope to have it by 2013,'' Braid said. "It's now becoming quite a firm option. We showed the concept at the Melbourne motor show last year and the feedback we got was very positive.''

TEST DRIVE

During a flying visit to Sweden this week we had a quick spin in a pre-production version of the hybrid at Volvo's proving ground outside Gothenberg. Performance is strong, particuarly in power mode and the car is nicely balanced.

This is despite the extra weight of the electric motor, batteries and other equipment that add more than 300kg to the kerb weight. The batteries by the way are hidden under the luggage compartment floor, requiring the floor to be raised by 60mm. The result is less luggage space - 305 litres compared with 430 in the standard wagon.

With no room for a spare because of the batteries a reinflation kit is supplied in the event of a flat tyre. Production of the hybrid wagon is due to start in earnest in November, with an initial run of 1000 cars. By the end of next year, however, the hybrid is expected to account for 10-15 per cent of production.

Volvo V60 D6 AWD Diesel Hybrid

Price:  $75,000 - $100,000 (etimated)
Engine: 2.4-litre turbodiesel 5-cylinder; 160kW/440Nm + electric motor 50kW/200Nm
Acceleration: 0 to 100km/h: 6.2 seconds
Transmission: 6-speed automatic: AWD
Thirst: 1.9 L/100km

Pricing guides

$17,400
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$10,600
Highest Price
$24,200

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
D3 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $10,800 – 15,840 2012 Volvo V60 2012 D3 Pricing and Specs
D3 Teknik 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $11,600 – 17,050 2012 Volvo V60 2012 D3 Teknik Pricing and Specs
D5 2.4L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $14,100 – 19,910 2012 Volvo V60 2012 D5 Pricing and Specs
T4 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $11,700 – 17,160 2012 Volvo V60 2012 T4 Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$12,800

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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