Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine hybrid review
|Car type||Electric range||Economy||CO2|
|Plug-in hybrid||22-34 miles||88-123mpg||47-56g/km|
The Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine is an excellent plug-in hybrid SUV. The 'T8 Twin Engine' name tag denotes a petrol engine working in combination with an electric motor, which is the most common combination for PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles).
There are some interesting alternatives to the XC60, though. It's a mid-size premium SUV with five seats, and there aren’t many direct rivals with plug-in drivetrains just yet, but the competition consists of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, among others.
That car isn't as upmarket, but also uses a petrol motor and electrification to deliver economy. It’s also a little larger but cheaper than the XC60. More premium rivals for the Volvo, in the shape of new BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC plug-in hybrids, aren't on sale just yet – but are coming soon.
Elsewhere, the Lexus RX 450h is a premium five-seat SUV that also uses a petrol engine (a V6 here) and electric motor, but unlike the cars above, the Lexus isn’t a plug-in. The Japanese company calls it a ‘self-charging’ hybrid, which means the car uses the engine or energy recouped from the brakes to top up the battery – but it's not as efficient.
With the Volvo you can plug in. Do so and the Swedish brand reckons you can travel up to 34 miles on electric power alone, thanks to the 11.6kWh lithium-ion battery supplies an electric motor. In combination with the 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine, 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 more than 120mpg, while CO2 emissions are 56g/km at most, which means the Volvo 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 specification. This gets all of that equipment, but also features different seats, mesh grilles outside, 19-inch alloys, 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 use with public chargers or a home wallbox is a £50 extra. The XC60's onboard charger limits its maximum charging speed to 3.7kW, however, so the best time you'll see to fully recharge the battery is a little over three hours, regardless of what you're plugged into.
The XC60 is very quiet when driven in electric mode, as there’s barely any noise from the motor and wind and tyre roar are well suppressed. 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 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.