Two cars in one, really. The D6 has the silent city car and cross country mile-eater aspects largely sewn up, but a performance wagon it isn’t. Partly this is because no matter what Volvo’s marketing department thinks, the V60 isn’t a particularly rewarding steer to begin with, and despite adding all-wheel-drive traction, the new tech lumbers the underwhelming chassis with an additional 300kg or so of kerb weight.
In fairness, it actually bears the burden rather well – thanks in large part to a suspension set-up which has clearly been retuned with comfort in mind – but it labours through apexes with over-weighted, reductive steering and doesn’t feel as fast as the stopwatch suggests it is.
Let’s concentrate on its strengths though, because what the V60 does get right, it accomplishes with persuasive aplomb. There are three selectable drive modes to chose from: Pure, Hybrid and Power. Turn the key and the car defaults to its Hybrid setting, meaning (as you might expect) that it juggles drive from both the electric motor and the diesel engine to achieve optimum economy.
In the development car we drove (despite being available to order, the model is still someway from being signed off) there are still some issues with transition between the power sources – even Volvo admits that reconciling the two into a smooth, refined throttle response has been one of its biggest challenges – but otherwise it impressed.
In practice, with a fully-charged battery (which can take up to 7.5 hours on a lowly 6amp fuse or 3.5 on 16amp via a domestic plug) and 147lb of torque to call on, the D6 defaults to its electric motor, only calling on the diesel engine when vigorous acceleration is required. This is an advantage, firstly because it saves burning the expensive fossil fuel languishing in a scaled-down tank, and secondly because the car feels most at home when the drone of the five-pot oil burner is extinguished.
It’s not hard to keep it in silent running either as Volvo has provided (along with a bumper pack of other information) a roving indicator dial that pre-empts the transition between electric motor and internal combustion. With careful modulation of the throttle – and the fact that the D6 will allow speeds of up to 62mph – the marker will remain below the magic line.
Alternatively, if your journey includes an extended road trip between urban sprawls, it’s possible to preserve battery charge via a ‘Save’ button on the dash, and then use it later on when it’s most effective.
The Hybrid mode will serve you well enough in town, but the Pure setting remaps the throttle for a gentler response (thereby keeping you even further from consuming any diesel) and augments the already calm experience of moving around the rush hour in a muffled hush.