Chris Riley gives his take on the new Volvo XC90 T8 R-Design
What is it?
As Matt Calvitto previously reported, Volvo’s XC90 T8 is a technical tour de force. A big, seven-seat plug-in hybrid that runs on combination of petrol and electricity, or electricity alone if the need arises – but only for a very limited distance.
Too much, quite frankly. The T8 R-Design sits at the top of the Volvo range with a price tag of $122,900. That’s about $20,000 more than the petrol or diesel models and probably $20,000 more than it should be.
What’s under the bonnet?
A 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine that’s both turbo and supercharged, together a combination of electric motors that drive the rear wheels making it all-wheel drive. It delivers 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque, with another 65kW and 240Nm from the electric motor – the latter from zero revs.
What’s it like to drive?
You’ll need to allocate time out to work out what controls what before moving off for the first time. Nothing is familiar but most items can be operated from the large, vertically mounted computer screen. Throttle response is gratifying and it gets moving reasonably quickly for a big car, with light easy to use steering. The secret is all that torque, available almost instantaneously. Watch out for the glass-like gear shift knob – it was hot enough to burn after being left in the sun.
Is it comfortable?
No problems here. But as is the case with most SUVs the third row is strictly for small children.
Is it economical?
They reckon it’s good for 2.1L/100km, but needless to I couldn’t get anything like that. No wonder motorists get cheesed off over fuel figures.
Is it green?
That’s what all the hoo-haa is about.
Is it safe?
Volvo prides itself on safety and the T8 is no exception, with emergency city auto braking fitted as standard. Even so much of the safety gear available to the car remains optional. We thought safety was non-negotiable item for this brand?
Is it good value?
You get satnav, leather and climate air. But too many items that you would expect as a luxury vehicle are optional – heated seats for instance. That’s just wrong.
What are its main rivals?
Most people who buy Volvos do so to avoid the German brands. Main competitors will be the Land Rover Discovery TD6 HSE, priced from $114,350, Lexus RX450h Hybrid, priced from $108,610 or maybe the Jaguar F-Pace First Edition, from $117,165 – though it’s only a five-seater.
Would we buy one?
There’s a lot to like about the T8. I’m just not sure the extra $20,000 is justified and cutting edge technology has a way of becoming a blunt knife at resale time. To be perfectly honest I’d be just as happy with the diesel.