Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine review
The Volvo XC60 T8 is a brilliant plug-in hybrid SUV. Like many cars that use this technology, Volvo’s T8 name tag denotes a petrol engine working in combination with an electric motor, as this combination delivers the cleanest running potential.
There are some interesting alternatives to the XC60, though. This is a mid-size premium SUV with five seats, so as this technology is still relatively new, there aren’t many direct rivals, but the competition consists of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, among others. That car isn't as upmarket, but uses a petrol motor and electrification to deliver economy. It’s also a little larger but cheaper than the XC60 T8, too.
You could buy a used BMW X5 40e, and if you want a plug-in BMW off-roader that’s what you’ll have to do, as the BMW X5 xDrive45e iPerformance plug-in model isn’t on sale just yet – but it is coming during 2019.
The Volvo’s next two rivals conform to a different recipe. The Audi Q7 e-tron is based on the seven-seat Q7, but it uses a 3.0-litre V6 TDI diesel engine with an electric motor and the battery supplying it located in the boot, so it only seats five.
Finally, the Lexus RX 450h is a premium five-seat SUV that also uses a petrol engine (a V6 here) and electric motor, but unlike all of the cars above – including the Volvo – the Lexus isn’t a plug-in car. The Japanese company calls it a ‘self-charging’ hybrid, which is a little misleading. Basically, the car uses the engine or energy recouped on the brakes to top up the battery, which means it isn’t as efficient. A seven-seat RX L 450h is also available.
With the Volvo you can plug in. Do so and the Swedish brand reckons you can travel 28 miles on electric power alone. The 10.4kWh lithium-ion battery supplies an electric motor. In combination with the 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine, this means there’s an impressive 385bhp on offer, which is enough for a 5.5-second 0-62mph acceleration time.
Both of these figures are enough to rival some serious hot hatchbacks, but there’s more than just straight-line speed on offer. The way the XC60 T8 delivers its power, in a smooth, electrically assisted surge, means there’s always plenty of performance for making effortless progress.
Of course, a plug-in car has to be efficient, too, regardless of whether it’s an SUV or serves up strong performance. According to the official claims, the XC60 T8 absolutely is.
Official fuel economy stands at a best of 122.8mpg combined, while CO2 emissions are 52g/km at their lowest, which means the Volvo qualifies for a plug-in car grant of £2,500 and is exempt from the London Congestion charge.
It’s a little less practical than its regular petrol or diesel-engined siblings, but with a 468-litre boot with the rear seats in place, not by much. There’s no drawback inside, as interior space is identical to the regular XC60, while all trim levels available with the T8 Twin Engine get plenty of kit.
The entry-level model in the XC60 range is Momentum, which gets cruise and climate control, a nine-inch tablet infotainment system with sat nav, a 12.3-inch digital dashboard display, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated part-leather seats, some excellent safety technology as you’d expect from a modern Volvo, and LED headlights.
However, you can’t get the T8 model in this trim level; you have to step up to the sportier R-Design trim. This gets all of that equipment, but also features different seats, some mesh grilles outside, 19-inch alloys, some sportier styling touches and Volvo’s ‘Sports chassis’ for improved responsiveness. R-Design Pro adds 21-inch alloys and adjustable air suspension.
Inscription is the top trim level, with ventilated, power-adjustable leather seats, different interior trim and some upgraded ambient lighting inside, while the Pro version of this model features air suspension, 20-inch wheels and a gesture function for the tailgate.
The charging cables are stored in the boot, and you get a 4.5-metre long three-pin cable as standard. A 4.5-metre Type 2 cable for a faster charger or wallbox is a £50 extra.
Recharge times will depend on the power supply you’re plugged into. A 6A-rated supply will top the battery up in seven hours. This drops to four hours for a 10A supply, while a faster 16A supply beats this by an hour.
The XC60 is refined in electric mode, as there’s barely any noise. This changes as the petrol engine kicks in, as it’s vocal when revved, but at least the car is comfortable.
On air suspension especially the ride is absorbent, and you feel the fluidity that the sophisticated suspension setup gives. Even the entry-level trim rides on fairly big wheels, so cracked tarmac and violent bumps do upset the body, but most of the time the XC60 is serene.
For a more detailed look at the Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.