Volvo S60 T8 Twin Engine: long-term test review

First report: Will our new plug-in hybrid junior exec make an electrifying start?Verdict4Volvo's plug-in hybrid powertrain turns the S60 into a highly desirable compact exec both on paper and in the metal. But will the lustre rub off as our long-term test gets into its stride? Time will tell…

Mileage: 1,526
Economy: 53.0mpg

On the face of it, the plug-in hybrid car is an attractive compromise between the practicality and familiarity of internal combustion and the low costs and emissions of pure-electric power. However, there’s been a fair bit of controversy swirling around them, and that’s partly why we’ve made room on our fleet for Volvo’s handsome S60 T8. 

This is a plug-in hybrid compact executive saloon, and this part of the market is where the tax advantages of a plug-in model make cars like the S60 T8 particularly compelling to business users. The controversy centres around the fact that the impressive official economy and emissions figures (they’re 122.8mpg and 42g/km for this car) hinge to a great extent on the way they are used. 

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Some initial tests on our Volvo suggest that S60 T8 owners who rarely plug their cars in could be seeing less than 35mpg in the real world – about what you’d expect from a saloon car like this with a 314bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 1,960kg kerbweight. And yet the car slots into the lowest Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) company car tax band and is exempt from the London Congestion Charge. Of course, if it’s fully charged every morning and you drive 20 to 30 miles to work on electric power, then top up the batteries for the journey home, you could be running a car with zero exhaust emissions.  

We fully intend to get to the bottom of the S60 T8’s merits and pitfalls as a plug-in hybrid over the course of our test. But we’ll also analyse its credentials as a challenger to the Germanic triumvirate of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4. 

We headed to the Scandinavian chic showroom of Volvo Cars West London in Chiswick, where sales executive Aaron Whelan-Robinson gave us the full handover for our R-Design Plus model in Bursting Blue paint with a Slate Grey leather interior. 

Our S60 comes with the Xenium Pack (panoramic sunroof, 360-degree surround-view parking camera and Park Assist Pilot automatic parking), the Intellisafe Pro Pack (auto dimming mirrors, adaptive cruise control and Intellisafe Surround safety aids) and the Convenience Pack (power folding rear seat backs and luggage hooks in the boot), which adds £3,700 to the car’s £49,805 list price.

Our S60 also features the dealer-fitted Polestar Performance Software Upgrade, which adds 15bhp in an extra sport-focused driving mode on the car’s menu, and the Smartphone Integration kit that brings Android Auto and Apple CarPlay online. Together with the metallic paint, these add a further £2,000, taking the total list price for our car over the £55,000 mark. 

That’s a sizable sum, even for an all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid with 314bhp plus 86bhp of electrical assistance that can do 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds and (on the WLTP combined cycle) between 123mpg and 176mpg. 

You can get a BMW 330e plug-in hybrid for nearly £10,000 less, which looks to be a big fly in the S60’s ointment – in fact, the BMW won a recent twin test against an S60 T8 – but our experience of the Volvo so far suggests it’ll have a very good go at justifying that premium. For a start, the shape is relentlessly stylish, with R-Design Plus trim adding a sensible level of sportiness and 18-inch double-spoke wheels that we already know serve up a silkier ride than the 19 or 20-inch options. The seats are wide and relaxing in the best Volvo tradition, while the general build quality inside seems strong on first impression. 

The S60 is highly convincing as a premium saloon car, and we’re looking forward to seeing if Volvo’s plug-in hybrid powertrain has the talent to back-up those sparkling numbers it posts on the spec sheet.

* Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Key specs

  • Model: Volvo S60 T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design Plus
  • On fleet since: November 2019
  • Price: £49,805
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol & e-motor, 399bhp
  • CO2/tax: 42g/km/£455
  • Options: Metallic paint (£975), Xenium pack (£1,800), Intellisafe Pro (£1,625), Convenience pack (£300), Polestar Performance Software Optimisation (£745)
  • Insurance: Group: 42 Quote: £377*
  • Mileage/mpg: 1,526/53.0mpg
  • Any problems?: None so far

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