Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 hybrid engines, drive and performance
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The Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 has an appealing two-faced nature, delivering great comfort and refinement when you want it, and also serving up aggressive acceleration and enjoyable handling if you fancy it.
As the car was designed as a plug-in from the outset, there are very few drawbacks compared to a regular XC90, although the Jaguar I-Pace handles far better if you want a sports SUV with a plug and don't need the XC90's space and versatility.
Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 hybrid engine, 0-62mph and acceleration
There’s just one engine available in the T8: a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol that’s both turbocharged and supercharged to boost power on full throttle without harming efficiency when cruising. The petrol engine makes 299bhp and drives the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, while the electric motor produces 86bhp and drives the rear wheels. That means four-wheel-drive capability and a total of 385bhp.
The car will accelerate from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds but top speed is limited to 112mph; if you do accelerate heavily then the petrol engine makes an appealing but rather intrusive supercharger whine, but on a steady throttle refinement is great and in electric mode it is naturally excellent. You can do motorway speeds in electric mode, too, so if your commute is short enough then you needn't wake the petrol engine at all.
On standard suspension, the car feels relaxed and composed in most situations, riding over the majority of surfaces sweetly. The higher ride height compared to a saloon car means more travel in the suspension, so unlike a regular car that doesn’t have as much travel to absorb bumps, the XC90 feels mostly plush and smooth over bad roads.
You can tell the wheels are sizeable, though, because they bounce back with more energy if you hit a nasty bump, but otherwise the T8 feels settled. We'd still find the extra for air suspension if you can, since the extra cushiness and lazy, long-wave feel of the suspension with this adaptive setup fitted does improve general comfort as well as off-road potential.
There’s loads of grip courtesy of the four-wheel drive system and chunky tyres, but through faster corners the body lean is very noticeable – if only to be expected in such a big, heavy car. The steering is light and has a lovely build of weight, so is a pleasure to use in awkward town stuff or on a fast country road or motorway, too; you always feel nicely connected to the car and it's generally very secure-feeling yet enjoyable.
Brake feel, too, is good by the standards of cars fitted with regenerative braking, so you rarely have to give much thought to the pedal pressure needed to achieve smooth stopping.