Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine hybrid review
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||29-35 miles||108-166mpg||43-46g/km|
Volvo is planning to have five all-electric cars on the market by 2021, but until then the Swedish brand is offering a full range 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 tradition of making large estates.
In the past decade or so, Volvo has 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 producing 385bhp. Presently, its only direct competitor is the Mercedes E-Class plug-in hybrid estate, which is cheaper and more efficient, if less powerful.
As the range-topping variant of the V90 estate, the T8 is only available in two trim levels. R-Design Plus gives the car 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.
Inscription Plus is focused more on comfort. It looks a little more under-the-radar than the R-Design, but still rides on 20-inch wheels. Nappa leather is used inside, 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 5.3 seconds. The 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, using which it's good for 78mph and over 30 miles of driving.
To unlock maximum power, you need the 11.6kWh battery fully charged and the car primed in Power mode, which sets it up to achieve that claimed 5.3-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 has pace aplenty, it isn’t that 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 excellent comfort and quietness on the move, 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.
For more on the Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.