Volvo is about to blow rival hybrids out of the water with a diesel plug-in V60 estate that will produce nearly half the CO2 emissions of a Prius and offer more than twice the fuel economy of a green supermini.

The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid will spew just 49g/km of CO2 -- 40g less than than a Toyota Prius. It also promises a ridonculously impressive 150mpg courtesy of its diesel-electric propulsion system.

The car has three modes of operation -- 'pure', 'power' and 'hybrid' (see photo 3, above) -- which are selectable via buttons on the dashboard. In the pure setting, the car can be driven for up to 32 miles by a 70bhp, 200Nm electric motor and a large lithium-ion battery pack. Volvo says this can be recharged in 4.5 hours from a 10A outlet, or as little as 3 hours from a 16A outlet.

In hybrid mode, the V60 Plug-in Hybrid uses the electric motor to drive the rear wheels and the diesel engine to drive the fronts, relying on one, the other or both simultaneously depending on driver inputs and road conditions, in order to minimise emissions and maximise fuel economy.

In power mode, the car uses both the electric motor and the diesel engine, which produces a respectable 215bhp and 440Nm of torque to provide maximum acceleration at the expense of economy. This sort of grunt should prove handy in a variety of conditions. Its four wheel drive layout gives it plenty of grip off-road and it'll do 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds, which is enough to leave the latest Prius for dead.

If all of this sounds good (and why the heck wouldn't it?) then check back in a week or so. The Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid will be on show at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show from 3 March and we'll be on hand to poke an investigative stick at it on your behalf. In the meantime, have a gander at the video below to see it in virtual action.

Update: A previous version of this article stated that the V60 Plug-in Hybrid promised 124mpg. This was in the smaller US gallons, so using UK gallons that figure increases to 150mpg -- even more impressive. We've amended the headline and text to reflect this distinction.

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