Paul Kinsley takes to the roads of Hampshire to put Volvo’s award-winning XC90 T8 through its paces
The introduction of hybrid technology is adding to the influx of new SUV vehicles on the road, and the XC90 T8 from Volvo is one such example. When they penned the T8, Volvo chose not to compromise on performance, driving pleasure, efficiency or even luggage space. By building on the modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, and renowned four-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine, the company has created a roomy seven-seater which delivers 407 bhp/640Nm combined with ultra-low tailpipe emissions of just 49g/km CO2. These are impressive statistics.
Priced from £60,455 on the road, the Volvo XC90 T8 has more than established its place in the motoring world. With spacious, high-quality soft leather throughout the vehicle and immense leg room, there are few hybrid vehicles that are able to compete with the Volvo. Attention to detail really is second to none, particularly when it comes to the dashboard and the high level of onboard equipment.
If you are looking for a vehicle to replicate the cockpit of a jumbo jet then you will be disappointed – it’s uncluttered and emanates a typically Swedish design. The modern crystal gear shift blends in perfectly with the centre console and is illuminated with a subtle white light and gear selection indicator on the dash. All the buttons and switches are incorporated within the nine-inch iPad-like touchscreen entertainment system, where it is easy to navigate your way through the selection of menus, where you can find the dials for the climate control, in-car entertainment, and satellite navigation, amongst others. And with the optional Apple CarPlay, you are able to integrate your music libraries from external devices. Voice recognition is activated through the steering wheel and enables control of telephone contacts, calls and texts.
The Drive-E petrol engine coupled with the electric motor catapults the XC90 T8 from 0 to 62 mph in 5.6 seconds, delivering all the driving pleasure customers have come to expect from a Volvo SUV. Switching from the 2.0-litre petrol engine to the electric motor and back is very smooth, and under normal acceleration, this transition is barely noticeable. There are actually five different driving modes that deliver a range of performance and efficiency-enhancing characteristics, which are namely ‘Hybrid’, ‘Pure electric’, ‘Power mode’, ‘AWD’ and ‘Save’.
The transmission is incredibly smooth, selecting all eight gears seamlessly, and supplying the power exactly when required. It’s as if you were in the comfort of your own home, and relaxing on a beautiful soft leather sofa. But don’t be misled. With your foot anchored to the floor and having chosen the ‘Power mode’, the incredible surge of power is truly breath-taking.
The recorded combined fuel efficiency is a staggering 134 miles per gallon, but selecting the ‘Pure electric’ mode for as long as possible (for up to 26 miles – largely due to its 2300kg gross vehicle weight), before switching to ‘Hybrid’, over a distance of 280 miles, I was only able to achieve an average of 26 mpg. The handling of the Volvo is however generally very positive, with very little body roll. Using the ‘Power’ mode reduces the ride height sufficiently at higher speeds, helping to maintain positive steering and continued grip.
Paul’s conclusion on the Volvo XC90 T8
Overall the Volvo XC90 T8 is a perfect family vehicle with a kick and brings oodles of space and capabilities. It is incredibly quiet to drive and the overall interior ambience is first-rate. The dashboard is well laid out but perhaps is a little too clean and clinical for me, I have always been one for more lights and buttons. It will no doubt be one of the best sellers of the Volvo range, and for those buying this model as a company car, it has a lot going for it on many fronts. Could Volvo make the XC90 T8 better? Probably no, for the sector it’s in, the XC90 is a nigh-on perfect model and in my opinion the best seven-seater available today.
Volvo XC90 T8 – Figures at a glance:
- Power (bhp): 407
- 0 – 62 mph: 5.6 seconds
- Fuel economy (combined mpg): 134.5 / up to 26 miles pure electric range
- CO2 emissions (g/km): 49
- For more information on the Volvo XC90 T8, visit www.volvocars.co.uk.
By Paul Kinsley
See more of the Volvo XC90 T8 in the gallery below