Volvo has signalled its intent to embrace electrification imminently, all models adding voltage to their powertrains from next year. Most will get a 48-volt injection but there will be more plug-ins and a full BEV is due by the end of 2019. Currently, there are three electrified options in the Volvo range for us kiwis, the plug-in versions of the XC90, S90 and this, the XC60.
Like the others it uses a petrol four to power the fronts through an eight-speed auto, with a 65kW/250Nm electric motor driving the rears. Technically there is another motor up front with the starter/generator on the end of the engine, which refires the ICE, recharges the battery and supplies a small electric boost to the T6 powerplant. The 10.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack is housed in the transmission tunnel so there’s no loss of boot capacity. Fully charged, it’s good for a quoted EV range of 43km.
There are three drive modes; Pure for electric drive, Hybrid uses a mix of petrol and EV drive and Power sees the engine in charge, with the motor used as a booster. Plug-ins deliver the promise of big outputs and small emissions; in the T8’s case there is 311kW and 680Nm with consumption quoted at 2.1L/100km. They are however lumped with excesses of weight and price, the T8 being 180kg heavier than the equivalent T6 and with a base price of $117,900, it carries a $20k premium.
Those extra dollars deliver its EV operation. You get an indicated 40km EV range on a charged battery and this translates to between 25 and 35kms worth of actual electric travel. It all depends on where and how you drive, the best range achieved in traffic while flat terrain certainly helps. Set to Pure, the tacho morphs into an energy gauge helping you monitor your throttle use to keep within the EV operational zone and away from triggering the ICE power into action. You can happily commute about in EV mode and hit the motorway even. The EV acceleration isn’t exactly electrifying however; go for a gap and by the time you’ve reached 40 per cent throttle, the four pot will fire to ensure you have enough go to make it happen. Gas it from a standstill and the XC60 T8 feels rapid as both power units deliver maximum thrust.
Once the battery is depleted you still have the Hybrid mode with the engine doing most of the work but with odd bouts of EV drive on a steady cruise, or in slow traffic crawling as well as extended idle/stop operation. You’ll have no chance of replicating the 2.1L/100km claim unless you plug in often and always. This ensures you can make the most of the EV mode that you’ve paid the premium for. In Hybrid mode, you’re looking at an average in the eights. The small battery pack will be cooked in around four to five hours on a 10A plug while Volvo says it’ll be done in three using a 16A outlet.
While it’s the most powerful XC60 in the range, and the quickest to 100, it’s not the sportiest choice. It delivers good drive out of the bends thanks to the motor’s torque assistance but it doesn’t really feel like a 300kW performance SUV as the electric influence quickly diminishes as speeds rise. And that weight is always a factor. We simply liked the T6 R-Design better in this regard. But if it’s quick and comfortable you want, this will do nicely.
In the sporty Power mode, the optional air springs keep ride decorum front of mind yet can still manage the considerable mass they are charged with containing. The T8 is quiet, the engine well muffled and the auto slips its way through the cogs sneakily. Like most Volvos the steering is tuned towards refinement and ease of use rather than ultimate connection and that’s fine here, though the brakes need some work as they are too snatchy, no matter what speed you’re travelling.
Befitting a Volvo range topper, it’s crammed with every crash avoiding system one can imagine. It has a competitive specification too, though there are still a few options to consider, pushing the price higher. But otherwise you get all the usual XC60 goodness with an expertly crafted cabin, and this hybrid can tow up to 2100kg.
Modern hybrids are never cheap, and you won’t recoup the cost via reduced fuel bills. You might however impress tech savvy colleagues, and there’s a tinge of green thanks to its EV abilities. The XC60 is a great package, but the T8 wouldn’t be our first choice; rather a nice T6 or even a T5 thanks.
|Volvo XC60 T-8 R-Design
|1969cc, IL4, 246kW/440Nm
|8-speed auto, e-AWD