Volvo bring a very specialcar to the market.........

How much would you pay for an estate that had four-wheel drive, prodigious torque and the ability to hit 60mph from rest in under six seconds? Forty grand?

Volvo V60
Volvo V60

For not much more than that, Volvo’s V60 Plug-In Hybrid does all of that and will also return 155mpg and 48g/km of emissions. In theory at least.

There are a few caveats that suggest that this is a work in progress, but the numbers are mightily impressive.

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That the V60 Plug-In Hybrid is rapid isn’t up for debate. With power going to all four-wheels, it’ll hit 60mph in just 5.8 seconds when switched into Power mode.

Volvo V60

Here you get the 69bhp electric motor augmenting the 212bhp 2.4-litre turbodiesel, giving an initial slug of torque while the turbochargers spool up, the six-speed automatic taking the thinking out of straight line acceleration.

Top speed is rated at 140mph and when clicked into Pure mode, you can run the V60 on electric power alone up to a max of 78mph. Impressive stuff.

It won’t go for very far like this before the diesel motor harrumphs back into life but what else does motorway speeds on electric power?

The ride quality is firm thanks to the stiff run-flat tyres and the handling isn’t helped by the additional 250kg of batteries, no matter that they’re mounted low in the car to help with centre of gravity.

So yes, this is a very quick car but it’s certainly no hot hatch when shown a tricky set of corners.

The chassis and suspension does its best but the weight of a pair of burly policemen has an inevitable effect.

The Volvo V60’s a discreetly good looking thing too. Its roofline curves gently down towards the rear and the bonnet curls down towards the nose.

Where old Volvo designs were a riot of right-angles, this one has barely a straight line on it. It’s not just different for the sake of being different though.

The alert stance, short overhangs and sleek shape work well.

Inside, there’s similar attention paid to the aesthetics with a stylish dash and clearly presented controls - but is it practical?

Make no mistake, the Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid is a very impressive vehicle. How could a well-equipped and beautifully finished estate car that can crack six seconds to 60mph yet still average better than 60mpg when driven with no great regard to fuel economy be anything but?

The problem is that in achieving these seemingly contradictory achievements, it imposes a number of compromises that many won’t be prepared to countenance.

It weighs a handful of kilos off two tonnes and you’ll notice that through corners. It rides very firmly.

It’s no more spacious than a Ford Focus. And it costs nearly £44,000.

These are not trifling concerns and while Volvo should be applauded for bringing what is undeniably a very special car to market, it’s one that will only really work for the smallest of customer niches.

Volvo’s supremely modest sales target of 150 sales per year recognises this fact, but should this vehicle fit your specific requirements, you’ll probably love it for its other-wordly abilities. For the rest of us, it’s merely a briefly diverting curiosity.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

CAR: Volvo V60 D6 AWD Plug-In Hybrid

PRICE: £43,775 (after £5,000 Government grant)

INSURANCE GROUP: tba

CO2 EMISSIONS: 48g/km

PERFORMANCE: 0-60 5.8s / top speed 140mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: (combined) 115.2 mpg

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: DSTC-Dynamic Stability and Traction Control, ABS with EBA, twin front, side, and curtain airbags, SIPS side impact protection system

WILL IT FIT IN THE GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height mm 4628/1865/1484