Volvo XC60 Recharge hybrid engines, drive & performance
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The Volvo XC60 Recharge has to cover many bases. We’ve already seen efficiency, quality and standard equipment are among its plus points, but you can add comfort, speed and respectable handling to its talents, too. The car was designed to be a plug-in hybrid from the outset, so there are very few compromises you have to make compared with a regular XC60 when running the Recharge model.
Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine electric motor, 0-62mph and acceleration
There are three powertrain options for the XC60 Recharge, although all are based around a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels and an electric motor driving the rear. The T6 setup makes 340bhp total, the T8 manages 390bhp and the T8 Polestar Engineered top the range with 405bhp.
That’s as much power as the latest hot hatchbacks, so even though the Volvo is a little heavier, performance is still rapid. The T8 will accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds, but top speed is limited to 112mph for safety reasons.
However, with that electric motor supporting the petrol engine, there’s lots of easily accessible acceleration at any speed. It’s most noticeable off the line and at low speed, where the motor fills in for the engine until it can deliver maximum performance. There’s a strong surge of acceleration on even half throttle, and as long as you keep it like this, refinement is good.
Ask for everything from the hybrid setup and the petrol engine starts to get more vocal, with a nasally drone. It’s not unbearable and is only a small price to pay given the performance on tap, but it's occasionally at odds with the car's character. At motorway speeds the XC60 is particularly quiet and comfortable, though.
In electric mode, there’s enough low-down power to drive around town without troubling the petrol engine – and not at a snail’s pace, either. The XC60 delivers decent acceleration from just its electric motor. This also means it’s very quiet, as the petrol engine is off and not making any noise, while other noise from outside is well suppressed.
Even on standard suspension, the XC60 rides with a relatively relaxed and composed feel. The higher ride height means more travel for the suspension, so unlike a low sports car that has less suspension travel to absorb bumps, the XC60 feels mostly plush and smooth over bad roads. You can tell the wheels are sizeable, even on the basic 19-inch alloys, because they bounce back with more energy if you hit a bad bump, but otherwise the car feels settled.
Choose the optional air suspension and suppleness goes a step further. While the adjustable air setup still can’t control the big wheels as well as you might like over rough surfaces, for the majority of the time the suspension is even smoother, which gives a nice relaxed feeling to the way the Volvo rides.
Because of its weight of 2,110kg – around 300kg heavier than a diesel automatic XC60 due to the battery and electric motor – the Recharge doesn’t handle like it goes, but then most buyers looking for a car in this class will prefer the comfort this car serves up rather than extra agility.
There’s still plenty of grip, but through faster corners you do notice some lean as the weight of the battery tests the suspension’s resolve. The steering is quite light, too, so it's easy to apply too much lock too quickly, and while this might make the XC60 feel alert initially, it does lean and struggle to keep up after your initial input. However, even judged against a regular diesel SUV, its agility is good and changes of direction are fairly positive. In truth, in most situations you won’t notice a handling penalty in this plug-in hybrid.
It’s worth mentioning the XC60’s regenerative braking, too. While the power of the conventional brakes is fine (helped by the motor working in reverse to slow the car down and divert electricity back into the battery to recoup energy that would otherwise be wasted) the feel through the pedal is a little dead.
As the motor does all the braking when you lightly brush the brake pedal, it’s difficult to get a sense of just how much pressure to apply to slow you sufficiently, which means bringing the car to a halt smoothly can sometimes be a bit difficult unless you’re very gentle. Put the gearbox in 'B' mode and the regenerative braking effect is maximised, meaning you don't need to use the brake pedal to slow down as much as you'd normally do.