Volvo XC60 Recharge T8 PHEV Review – Is The Mild Hybrid SUV Worth It_
Volvo XC60 T8
The top recharge T8 plugin hybrid version of Volvo’s XC60 midsize premium SUV, combines turbo charging, supercharging and electrification for potentially astonishing efficiency returns. Despite this Swedish crossover’s huge power output, there’s a significant price to pay for this technology and you’ll need to tailor your motoring life to suit what this car can offer. But if you can deal with these caveats, then this is a potentially very likable package.
Quite a few brands have only recently jumped aboard the plug-in hybrid bandwagon, but Volvo has long planned for it. The company’s current petrol and diesel cars are all based around a single two liter force on their engine block unveiled by Volvo’s then R&D chief, Peter Mertens, way back in 2011. It was a configuration fundamentally designed around the requirements for plugin tech, and as a result, Volvo was quickly able to launch plugin electrified versions of all its larger models, including the XC60 mid-sized SUV that we feature here. Since then, plug-in variants have rivaled Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC rival SUVs have also hit the market. So can this XC60 recharge plug-in hybrid still appeal in that company? Let’s find out.
Under the bonnet of a recharge plug-in hybrid all-wheel drive X60 model, you’ll find a two liter turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine, which is mated to an 87 horsepower electric motor cited on the back axle. The main power plant comes in three levels of output, 253 HP for the base recharge T6, 303 HP for the recharge T8 and 318 HP for the top recharge T8 Polestar engineered version. In each case, the setup is aided by a 25 HP starter motor generator, which pitches in from time to time to smooth any gaps in taught delivery between the two main power sources. It’s all enough to deliver a set of stats and it’s rather hard to get your head around. In the case of the standard T8 variant that most XC60 plugin hybrid customers choose, that’s the one we’re trying here incidentally. An enormous 407 break horsepower combined power output offsets the extra weight of all those mechanicals.
So 62 mph from rest can still be dispatched in just 5.3 seconds on the way to 140 mph. Yet there is also the potential for the kind of fuel and CO2 readings that theoretically could equal those of a frugal super MINI. Which of those two extremes you reach in an XC60 T8 will depend on your choice between the five driving settings that owners of all XC60 plugin hybrid models are offered. Our ultimate speed is delivered by a power mode, which sees both the petrol and the electric units permanently working together. Alternatively, there are four other drive choices. There’s a hybrid setting that sees the two engines cutting in and out as necessary, an all-wheel drive mode, which gives you permanent 4×4 traction, plus a pure electric setting only uses the battery power and can take you up to 28 miles.
That is mind you more than most people’s daily commuting distance on a single charge. There is even a save option so that on a longer trip you can hold onto that charge until you get to the city driving that you might have to do by the end of the journey.
This recharge plug-in hybrid model looks pretty much identical to the more conventional petrol and diesel variants lower down the range. The eagle-eyed will spot special badging and an extra charging flap, but that’s about it. Otherwise it’s pretty much standard XC60, which means there’s a longer bonnet than a rival Audi Q5, and a longer roof line two. At first glance with this second generation XC60, much seems similar to its larger XC90 showroom stable mate. Here at the side though, the differences between the two SUVs become more obvious. Although this car is only nine mm narrower than its bigger stable mate, dimensions that see it 261 mm shorter and 118 mills lower, make it clearly a more compact and sportier proposition.
There’s absolutely no doubt as to the brand origins here at the front where the unusual LED front headlights immediately catch your eye. The so-called hammer of Thor design emphasized by distinct hammer shaped daytime lighting guides, which also flash orange when you indicate. Now, these flank chrome framed front grill, which is complete with Volvo’s traditional Iron Mark logo at its center. Further down is a subtler lower grill, which is flanked by corner cutouts at the edges here. Move to the rear and there’s a look that if you know your premium SUVs could only belong to a Volvo, thanks to these 3D taillights, which emphasize the body shoulder line and border the tailgate flowing up into this smart roof mounted spoiler.
Lower down, twin exhaust pipes with chrome sleeves poke from either side of the rear skid plate in what the Swedish maker hopes is a potent finishing touch. Of course as usual, what’s more important is the stuff that you can’t see, and that’s basically the same SPA, scalable product architecture underpinnings that you’ll find in all Volvos modern era larger models. Now that structure that the SPA platform sits on, is certainly very advanced. 40% of it is fashioned from hot formed boron steel, and that’s the strongest found in the motor industry. No other brand uses as much of this very safe, very strong metal. Let’s take a seat up front where high quality materials, intelligent use of space and attention to detail work together to create a distinctly Scandinavian cabin that’s simple and elegant.
Now, the first thing you’ll probably notice is this nine inch portrait style touchscreen on the center console, which declutters the cabin of its usual buttons and gives it a classy, sophisticated air, emphasized by intricate detailing and rich Scandinavian design. There is more technology in the instrument binnacle, where the normal conventional dials and readouts have been replaced by virtual ones in an active TFT crystal driver’s information display. At the wheel, you sit lower than you would do in an XC90, and as you’d expect, there are plenty of cabin resemblances to that larger SUV, especially when it comes to the dashboard with those screens, plus the seats and the upholstery. There’s nothing to distinguish this as the PHEV, unless you drill down into the center monitor menus where eventually you’ll find a neat, but rather small energy flow diagram showing in real time, what’s being powered by what.
Overall, we reckon this cabin as something of an aesthetic triumph. It’s immaculately made and full of premium touches like this diamond cut start- stop control switch, and a slatted cover for this centered ash compartment. Look around you and the intricate detailing continues. Carpets that are inspired by thick Swedish rugs, interior colors influenced by the Scandinavian landscape, and superbly comfortable seats, which can be specified to heat, ventilate, or massage you with power adjustable side support and front cushion extensions. And through it all, charismatic little signs of brand heritage are never far away. The little Swedish flag that’s sewn into the driver’s seat stitching. And there’s another one embossed onto the passenger side of the dash. In the back, two adults should be very comfortable and three would fit at a pinch.
There is also a really unique touch, concealed storage compartments under the rear seat bases, which are just the right size to store electronic devices like a tablet out of sight. There is a central 12 volt connectivity port. USB point would be more useful, but the design of this central armrest is lovely with integrated storage and pop out cup holders. Seat back nets also feature. Out back there is a 468 liter boot that’s down from 483 liters in the conventional model. Plus there’s another issue in that you lose under floor storage. There’s just this shallow forward area here. Still, there is a netted left hand corners storage area, and at least there’s a standard ski hatch, so you can push longer items like skis through from the boot without disturbing a couple of rear seated folk. If you need room folding, the rear bench releases up to 1,395 liters of space, and that’s down from 1,410 liters in the conventionally engined XC60.
You all have expected there to be a price to pay to add in sophisticated plugin tech to the XC60, but you might not have expected it to take the price of this Volvo right up into the 58,000 to 63,000 pound bracket, but that’s the reality here. For the T8 version of this recharge model, there are R design pro and inscription pro trim levels. Plus there’s a unique Polestar engineered version of the T8 plugin hybrid. If you need to pay a little less, the slightly lesser powered recharge T6 plugin hybrid version of this model is priced from around 50,000 pounds. To give you some XC60 range perspective, the least expensive B4 and B5 mild hybrid diesel and B5 and B6 mild hybrid petrol all-wheel drive models, cost from around 42,000 pounds. But the difference in price to this recharge version will be less than that if you specified those variants up to match the least expensive XC60 PHEV variants level of trim.
This car’s most direct mid to large segment premium badged SUV plugin hybrid rivals are the AudiQ5 TFSI e, the BMW X3 xDrive30e, and the Mercedes GLC 300 e. Conceivably, also the DS7 Crossback E-Tense 4×4, all these alternatives are comparably priced. It helps Volvo cause against these competitors that every version of this PHEV XC60 is very well equipped. As standard, even entry level variants come with leather faced upholstery, LED headlights with active high beam, two zone climate control with a clean zone air filtration system, heated front seats, a powered tailgate and alloy wheels of at least 18 inches in size. Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system is also standard. Now, this brings a nine inch portrait style touchscreen, satellite navigation, and an intuitive voice activation system.
It also provides access to the internet and a range of cloud-based apps, such as Spotify, TuneIn, Stitcher and Yelp. Volvo city safety system is fitted to every XC60. This includes automatic emergency breaking with pedestrian cyclist and large animal detection and the world’s first application of steer assist. Now, this feature helps to avoid or limit the severity of collisions at low speeds by assisting with the steering in an emergency, such as when you are swerving to miss an obstacle. There’s also pilot assist, Volvo’s innovative semi-autonomous drive feature. This assists with the steering up to 80 miles per hour and takes care of the acceleration and breaking required to keep the car within lane markings and at the desired cruising speed or distance from any vehicle in front.
The recharge of plugin XC60 variants achieve an all electric driving range of around 35 miles. That’s assuming you limit yourself to the cars pure all eD mode. As for the WLTP fuel and CO2 stats, well, the standard recharge T6 plugin hybrid manages up to 122.7 MPG and up to 54 grams per kilometer. And the standard recharge T8 plugin hybrid manages up to 117.5 MPG and up to 56 g/km. For the T8 Polestar engineered variant, the figures are up in 94 MPG and 69 g/km. Is it worth stretching to this plugin model rather than one of the more conventionally engined mild hybrid XC60 variants? Well, you decide. To give you some XC60 range perspective B5 or wheel drive petrol model manages best of 38.2 MPG on the combined cycle and up to 168 g/km of CO2.
And a B5 all-wheel drive diesel range manages bests of 45.6 MPG on the combined cycle and up to 161 g/km of CO2. On the move in this Volvo, fuel consumption graph on the center dash infotainment screen allows you to monitor your ongoing frugality, and the same display can also show an energy flow monitor, which can visually brief you at any given time as to what’s being powered by what. As with any plugin hybrid, there’s little point in purchase, unless you’ve established a regular recharging regime for the battery pack, which in this case is 11.6 kWh in size. Customers will be able to buy a wall box from Volvo, which will charge their cars on 16 amp power in about two and a half hours.
If you’re out and about, and you find a 10 amp public charging point, the charging time will be slightly longer, three and a half hours. While connecting up to a normal domestic three pin, six amp supply will take six hours. The important thing of course is that the government believes the fantasy land CO2 stats. So business users will be able to write down as much as 100% of the cost of an XC60 T8 against their tax liability. And a 40% tax could be driving this variant while incurring a BIK tax bill of no more than around £100 a month. Now, if you’re a business buyer browsing in this segment, these are figures that’ll reward a bit of thought if you are just about to sign blindly on the dotted line for a conventional six cylinder diesel model from a rival brand.
The sort of sensible buyer likely to be considering an XC60 is, we think, likely to be sorely tempted by this plug-in hybrid version. The combination of low taxation and the potential for virtually fuel free commuting mileage is as with any model of this type a tempting one. And when you match it to this car’s class, leading safety standards and cool Scandinavian vibe, the resulting package offers a refreshing alternative to rival German branded SUVs. But the asking figures are substantial, and in an era where government assistance is absent, you’d have to be very sold on the plugin remit here to opt for this recharge model. After all, if you merely want your premium luxury mid-sized SUV to be in some way electrified, Volvo offers very acceptable, mild hybrid petrol and diesel versions of this car, lower down the range.
We think those mildly electrified variants might be a better pick for many customers. But if you have to have technological superiority in your XC60, only the recharge variants offer it.