Volvo S90 Recharge T8 hybrid review
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||29-35 miles||109-166mpg||40g/km|
The Volvo S90 Recharge T8 is a plug-in hybrid saloon that rivals the likes of the BMW 530e and Mercedes E-Class hybrid, as well as its estate-car sibling, the Volvo V90 Recharge T8. It pairs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor to produce a total output of 385bhp, making it the most powerful model in the S90 range.
But the S90 Recharge is about more than just brute force. With CO2 emissions of just 40g/km, claimed fuel economy of up to 166mpg and a pure-electric driving range of up to 35 miles, you can have your cake and eat it. That’s the theory, anyway. In reality, the economy you get will depend on how often you charge and how long your journeys are.
Certainly, when the petrol engine is running you're likely to achieve around 35mpg even in gentle use, but if you charge regularly and do mostly shorter journeys, you could offset the underwhelming economy on longer journeys with virtually fuel-free travel the rest of the time. The low CO2 emissions do mean a low rate of company-car tax and exemption from the London Congestion Charge, however.
The car comes with a 11.6kWh lithium-ion battery and can be charged from a household socket using the 4.5-metre charging cable supplied. A full home charge will typically take six hours. Frustratingly, Volvo charges £50 for the Type 2 charging cable that you'll need if you want to use most public charging points, and you even have to pay £40 for a bag to put the cables in.
Volvo has teamed up with PodPoint to offer home charging points for its plug-in hybrid models. Prices start from £279 for a 3.7kW charger (including the OLEV grant), which will provide a full charge in just over three hours. There's no point in paying for a faster home charger, as the S90 can only charge at a maximum speed of 3.7kW, so even if you plug the car into a faster charging point, it'll still take over three hours to charge.
As the flagship engine of the S90 range, the Recharge is available only in the most lavish trim levels: R-Design Plus and Inscription Plus. It's not cheap, starting at over £57,000 for the R-Design Plus and over £58,000 for the Inscription Plus – but the low CO2 emissions make it an appealing prospect for company-car drivers.
Both trim levels feature Volvo’s excellent City Safety package, a nine-inch tablet-style touchscreen infotainment system, Sensus sat nav, dual-zone climate control, an eight-speed automatic transmission and adaptive cruise control.
The R-Design Plus and Inscription Plus cater for two distinct audiences, with the former offering sports seats, pedals and mats, while the latter comes with a front seat backrest massage and seats finished in perforated Nappa soft leather, for greater comfort.
The cosmetic upgrades to the R-Design Plus certainly look the part, but the more subtle and elegant features of the Inscription Plus suit the S90 Recharge's relaxed and calm demeanour. Although it's the most powerful S90 in the range, this car’s weight and size make it more suited for leisurely progress.
Inside, the S90 presents a masterclass in fit, finish and ambience – nobody does modern interiors quite like Volvo. There’s space for four adults, with the rear middle seat fine for occasional use. And because the S90 was designed from the ground up with the hybrid system in mind, you get the same 500 litres of boot space as the petrol and diesel versions.
Safety comes as standard in a Volvo, so the five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating was almost a given. The car performed particularly well in the adult occupant and safety assistance categories, scoring 95 and 93% respectively. Only the Volvo XC60 scored higher in 2017.
It doesn't offer the zero-emission range of a pure electric vehicle, and fuel economy isn't great with the petrol engine running, but low CO2 emissions, punchy performance, great interior quality and useful practicality make the S90 Recharge a compelling prospect in the luxury saloon class.
For a more detailed look at the Volvo S90 Recharge T8, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.