Volvo XC90 T8 R Design frugal, quick, stylish and wonderfully luxurious
The Motoring Guru has established that the second generation Volvo XC90 is very good, excellent even. The XC90 T6 R Design we tested earlier this year impressed us immensely, and was a true indication that Volvo is transitioning from a left-of-centre premium car maker into a true prestige player that is capable of rattling the cages of the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Jaguar.
This time around, we’ve tested the XC90 T8 R Design. The Volvo T8 drivetrain combines the twin charged (turbo and supercharged) four-cylinder engine from the T6 and marries it to an electric motor.
The twin charged petrol engine produces 235kW@5000rpm and 400Nm@2200 – 5400 rpm. The electric motor develops 65kW and 240Nm. Volvo claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.6 seconds, so the XC90 T8 is no slouch.
The XC90 T8 offers drivers a number of different options: Pure: which allows the XC90 T8 to operate predominately as a fully electric vehicle up to speeds of 125km/h. When this mode is selected the electric motor drives the rear wheels. Hybrid mode is the default drive setting and it is tailored towards comfort and fuel economy. In this mode, the petrol engine drives the front wheels and the electric drives the rear. We also found the car operates in pure electric mode at speeds below 25km/h, ideal for saving fuel and reducing pollution during city driving.
Power mode combines the forces of both the petrol and electric engines and the emphasis is on sharp performance and optimal handling (more on these later) rather than tree hugging economy.
Finally, there’s an Off Road mode which raises the air suspension and restricts the car’s speed to 60km/h, allowing the driver to negotiate difficult roads more easily.
A full charge is around 50 or so kilometres, and should take overnight with a standard domestic power socket using the charger supplied.
Pure mode delivered strong all-electric performance. There was some assistance from the petrol engine on occasion, but, overall the XC90 T8 behaved as it should have – an electric, powerful and luxurious SUV.
However, we did feel that the car consumed the stored electricity too quickly, and we’re not convinced that a full charge will be sufficient for an average daily commute.
Hybrid mode was flawless in its transition from petrol to electric engine and vice versa, and when the petrol engine did restart, there was virtually no noise or vibration intrusion to the cabin.
Should you run out of charge from the power point, the XC90 T8 offers a charge function, whereby the petrol engine charges the battery whilst the car is stationary and in motion. We found this to surprisingly quick at charging the battery and a useful feature. But, predictably it does noticeably petrol range.
Power mode, is – and despite Volvo’s marketing spin – is exhilarating. The petrol engine powers along energetically as you push the throttle towards the deep, lush carpet and the electric motor acts as a worthy accomplice. A 0-100km/h time of 5.6 seconds is completely credible and it’s almost hard to believe that a four-cylinder hybrid Volvo SUV can accelerate with the same ferocity as a supercharged V8 Range Rover Sport, minus the noise, of course.
The Offroad mode was the least useful of the bunch, especially as the car wears large wheels with low profile tyres and doesn’t have any proper off-road hardware. That said, it may come in handy when trying to combat a slightly slushy equestrian club car park.
Our test car was fitted with the optional air suspension, which adjusted itself accordingly when each drive mode was selected.
Handling was excellent too, with minimal body roll, a firm but control ride and the XC90’s bulk wasn’t felt in busy city traffic.
The XC90 T8 models also come with a gorgeous Orrefors crystal gear selector which illuminated at night and was a fitting addition to an already stunning interior. A panoramic sunroof is also standard on the XC90 T8.
Finally, it should be mentioned that our XC90 T8 performed flawlessly during our test week and did not exhibit any of the faults that became apparent in our T6 test car.
The Volvo XC90 T8 R Design is backed by Volvo’s three year/unlimited kilometre warranty.
Name: Volvo XC90 T8 R Design
Engine: 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine with turbo charger and supercharged and electric motor 235kW @ 5700rpm + 65kW @7000rpm and 400Nm @ 2200-5400rpm + 240Nm
Price: $122,900 plus on road costs
Options: Technology Package ($3,000): Head-Up Display, 360° Parking Camera, Digital Radio (DAB), Apple Carplay; Premium Pack ($8,000): Heated Front Seats, Sunblind Rear Side Doors, Leather Upgrade on Dashboard and Doors, Sensus Premium Sound by Bowers & Wilkins, Heated Rear Seat, Air Suspension with Four-C
Price as tested: $133,900
Country of Origin: Sweden