Volvo keeps you safe on the road
There was a time during lockdown when, like many people working from home, the only verbal interaction I had was with my Google Assistant.
I tend to use it, and the app on my phone or PC, to find out just about anything I need to know.
I was discussing this with my 28-year-old daughter the other day and she said, with some incredulity, ‘In the old days, did you used to look at dictionaries and encyclopedias then?
Anyway, the point is, I recently drove a Volvo XC60, the Swedish firm’s best-selling SUV which had Google Assistant installed. I couldn’t have been more pleased, the interface so familiar it was a joy to use.
The XC60 on test was the all-wheel drive rechargeable plug-in hybrid.
The two-litre engine delivers 250bp with an extra 86bhp courtesy of the electric motor. Together they have an emissions figure of 55-64g/km and economy is from 100.9-113 mpg - which is very impressive and really boosts its green credentials.
In my case, charging is not straightforward as I only have a domestic supply to call on which takes forever and so I tended to use the petrol engine more than, say, an owner driver would.
For those with access to their own charging station or a nearby fast-charger it becomes far more of a sensible option.
Using petrol-power for most of the time dragged my mpg down to around 35mpg - still not bad considering the size and weight of the car.
With debate raging about the practicality of all-electric cars, the plug-in hybrid gives you the best of both worlds.
If you keep the battery charged up then your daily commute of fewer than 50 miles can be electric only. For longer journeys or when you just can’t be bothered to plug it in, the petrol-powered engine kicks in.
So-called range-anxiety is a thing of the past. With a plug-in hybrid you don’t have to worry about grinding to a halt on the M1 or turning off your air conditioning, wipers or stereo to squeeze a few extra miles out of the battery.
XC60, even in entry level trim, is well specified with a rear parking camera, power-operated tailgate, cruise control with speed limiter and a whole host of active and passive safety features - sometimes they were a little alarming though. A couple of times a strident collision alert sounded and there didn’t seem to be any reason for it. Kept me on my toes though.
In all respects the XC60 is a really easy car to live with. The 18in alloys and adjustable seats gave a comfortable and the acceleration from 0-62mph a sprightly 5.6 seconds with smooth gearchanges from the automatic transmission.
It’s smart, stylish and practical with just the right amount of technical kit to appeal to a wide range of buyers.
Price for the XC60 is from £42,485 for the front-wheel drive petrol Momentum with ourt test car coming in at £54,975.
Further embellishments including an £800 stereo upgrade; heated seats, steering wheel and windscreen (£1,000), adaptive headlights £825) and powered driver seat £1,000 bumped this up to £58,835.
Volvo XC60 Recharge Plugin Hybrid
Price: ££54,975 (£58,835 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol and electric motor
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 5.9 seconds
CO 2emissions: 55-64g/km