Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine review
|Car type||Electric range||MPG||CO2|
|Plug-in hybrid||31 miles (NEDC)||128.4mpg||49g/km|
Volvo is planning to have five all-electric cars on the market by 2021, but until then the Swedish brand is dipping its toes into electrification with a fleet of plug-in hybrid options, combining petrol and electric power. The V90 T8 Twin Engine is probably the most bread-and-butter plug-in hybrid the firm serves up, given Volvo’s affinity for large estates.
More recently, Volvo has really charged upmarket to take the fight to the established German players. It has become a bona-fide premium manufacturer, producing cars of a quality high enough to potentially sway the usual Mercedes, Audi or BMW buyer. The V90 T8 is no exception to this, with a sharp design, a wonderfully finished interior, great infotainment and technology, a healthy spread of driver-assistance features and a powerful plug-in hybrid powertrain boasting 401bhp.
Presently, the only direct competitor is the Mercedes E300 de plug-in hybrid estate, which is cheaper and more efficient, if less powerful. We're yet to drive it in the UK.
As the range-topping variant of the V90 estate, the T8 is only available in two trim levels. R-Design Pro kits the car up with a sportier look inside and out, with an R-Design bodykit, lowered suspension, 20-inch diamond-cut and matte-black alloy wheels and a black leather interior featuring sports seats.
On the other hand, the Inscription Pro is focused more on comfort. It looks a little more under-the-radar, but still rides on 20-inch wheels. Nappa leather is used inside and available in a choice of colours, while the seats are cushioned and have lumbar adjustment.
Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine plus an electric motor, making this an all-wheel-drive estate capable of all-electric running over shorter distances, while also being able to crack 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds. The 315bhp petrol engine powers the front wheels, while an 86bhp electric motor powers the rears.
By default on start-up, the V90 runs as a hybrid, using electric power at low speed before the engine kicks in. Flick the V90 into ‘Pure’ mode and it’ll rely on electric power alone, with which it's good for 78mph and 27 miles of driving.
To unlock all 401bhp, you need the 10.4kWh battery fully charged and the car primed in Power mode, which sets it up to achieve that claimed 4.8-second 0-62mph time and adjusts the steering to feel sportier. A permanent all-wheel-drive mode is the final drive mode.
While the V90 T8 packs pace aplenty, it isn’t wholly sharp to drive. If you’re expecting hot hybrid thrills, this maybe isn’t the car for you – it feels a little heavy in corners as a consequence of its weighty powertrain, while the steering is dull as well. Instead, this is a sumptuous cruiser.
The strong straight-line pace combines with a strong hand when it comes to refinement, making the plug-in V90 a great car to whittle away motorway miles in. Ride quality is especially strong, even if you go for some of the larger wheels available on the options list. Optional air suspension helps out in this regard as well.