XC90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription
are trending. Sales virtually
doubled last year and now halfway
through 2016 theyre already up by
another third. With impeccable timing
to capitalise on the demand for plug-
ins comes Volvos petrol-electric
hybrid, the XC90 T8...
THE ALL-NEW XC90 is a large seven-seater luxury SUV launched last year, since
when it's been selling like hot-cakes: sales for the first six months of 2016
were 43,911, bringing the total sold since its launch in late-2015 to 84,532.
The T8 petrol-electric hybrid now joins the rest of the highly-praised XC90
range the turbodiesel
D5 and the petrol-engined T6.
Part of the appeal of Petrol Hybrid Electric Vehicles is their tax-saving lower
emissions (there's no road tax and company car driver's pay just 7% Benefit-in-Kind)
and, of course, their exemption from that tax by another name, the so-called
London Congestion Charge (not that a penny of it goes to relieving the capital's
then there's the lure of 'cheap' motoring driven in a way that favours
their all-electric abilities, a T8 owner's annual petrol bill could be virtually
nothing! For drivers of a greener hue, there's the added benefit of very low
(a meagre 49g/km) emissions.
then theres the
lure of cheap motoring
driven in a way that
favours their all-electric
abilities, a T8 owners
annual petrol bill could
be virtually nothing!
For drivers of a greener
hue, theres the
added benefit of very low
Once upon a time (well, until the 2016 Budget), PHEV's attracted a £5,000 Government
grant but the goalposts have now been moved; cars costing more than £60,000
no longer qualify and with T8 prices starting at £6OK+ you can kiss that
goodbye. But let's be honest, if you can afford to spend that much on a car
this isn't going to be a deal-breaker.
Twin Engine it says on the label, and twin engine it is. Beneath the T8's chest-high
bonnet you'll find a 315bhp four-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged
petrol engine and there's an 85bhp electric motor bringing up the rear.
Working together as a finely-honed team, between them they generate a maximum
400bhp and an immensely muscular 472lb ft of torque. Throw in seven seats and
it's more than enough to make the 16-feet-long T8 the 'Ma Baker' of family chariots.
With this much power on call the T8 can really pick up its skirts and fly: top
speed is 140mph, but more relevant in real-life is the 0-62mph acceleration
which is done and dusted in 5.6 seconds. Neither of these figures is
usually associated with an official Combined Cycle fuel consumption of 134.5mpg.
Overindulge with the 'oomph' though and you certainly won't be seeing that.
More likely, once you've sampled it, you'll prefer wafting along silently in
pure-electric mode without even a whiff of CO2, something the T8 excels at up
to 75mph but only for 27 miles.
Feeding the electric motor is a 400v lithium-ion battery pack occupying the
space where a conventional car's prop shaft goes; in the transmission tunnel
between the front seats. Apart from benefiting the XC90's dynamic balance, this
has allowed the uncompromised retention of the third row of folding twin seats
already found in the seven-seater petrol and diesel XC90 models.
you can charge your T8's battery pack by the petrol engine as you drive along
or, more effectively, from the mains. Just connect up the appropriate lead and
it's 'plug & play' (and so straightforward that a seven-year-old could do it).
The quickest is a 'fast charge' that does zero-to-full in just 2.5 hours or,
if you're using a domestic 13-amp three-pin power source, in a still pretty
speedy 3.5 hours. Fully charged, the T8 is good for around 27 miles of clean,
cheap, electric-propelled travel.
stablemates (the D5
turbodiesel and the
the Twin Engine T8s
are driven by the petrol
engine with the back
wheels powered by the
its conventional front-engined D5 and T6 stablemates, the T8's front wheels
are driven by the petrol engine with the back wheels powered by the rear-mounted
Sophisticated electronics let the T8 mix-and- match from both power feeds to
run in either front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive depending
on what's best for the driving conditions or what its driver commands
there are five driving modes to choose from: All-Wheel Drive, Pure Eco, Hybrid
(best for everyday driving), Power (for when you're feeling 'sporty'), and Off
Road (all terrain types from rough paved to genuine off-road). You can also
choose to reserve the battery's electric charge for later use.
As you'd expect of a car costing north of £60K, equipment levels are luxurious
and must-have kit can be taken for granted; items such as four-zone climate
control (incorporating Volvo's ground-breaking CleanZone air-filtration system),
voice control system, keyless locking (all doors and tailgate) and start, eight-inch
TFT driver's information display, powered tailgate (both opening and closing),
'turning' LED headlights with active high beam, 19-inch alloy wheels, full-length
glass roof (the front third slides back and there's an opaque sunblind), drive-away
auto door locking, powerfold mirrors (on-demand and automatically when locking
and leaving), one-shot windows and auto-dimming rearview mirror.
At the heart of the T8's delightful and roomy cabin are magnificent chairs upholstered
in top quality, softly smooth, Blond Nappa leather that, thanks to their every-which-way
power adjustment, are a superb fit for your body along with extending
under-knee and lumbar support, the side bolstering can be squeezed in or opened
out plus there's not just seat heating but cooling and massage functions as
well (each of them three-stage) and to make sure someone else doesn't spoil
your perfectly personalised seating position, both the driver and front passenger
chairs also have three memory settings.
extra panache is a comprehensively multifunction steering wheel with a heated
two-tone rim (finished in fine cream and black leather). Along with a first
class driving position that lets you see clearly over the bonnet, you're guaranteed
to be as comfortable and at ease as is humanely possible every time you take
the T8's helm.
reviewers are on
record as saying
that this side of a
the XC90s cabin is the
nicest youll find
Theyre not wrong.
reviewers are on record as saying that this side of a Rolls-Royce Phantom, the
XC90's cabin is the nicest you'll find anywhere. They're not wrong. Luxury furnishings
aside, the clean-looking, Scandi-signature interior owes much to the large tablet-style
central touchscreen this has allowed traditional switchgear to be minimised
with just about everything controllable from the main display. Regularly used
touch-controls for heating, ventilation, and climate are permanently displayed
for easy access and adjustment.
More good news: the touchscreen has pinch and zoom and swipe functionality that
makes usability a finger-walk in the park you can even navigate the screen
while wearing gloves! In fact, many of the car's convenience and entertainment
functions can be controlled via the sophisticated voice control system. Sounds
from the Bowers & Wilkins Hi-Fi are first rate and audiophiles won't think twice
about ticking the appropriate options box for this £3K enhancement.
The infotainment system comes with Sensus Connect (which lets you access a range
of cloud-based web apps such as Rdio, Stitcher, TuneIn, LocalSearch and Yelp
and browse the Net) and Sensus Navigation (full European mapping with traffic
information and lifetime map updates). Another feature enables the T8 to pre-book
itself for a convenient service appointment at your chosen Volvo dealership,
while Volvo On Call is another groundbreaking app, available for your smartphone,
smartwatch or iPad, that enables you to remotely lock and unlock the car, check
if the doors/windows are closed, and access trip computer data.
It even gives the location of your T8 on a map, as well as letting you sound
the car's horn and flash the lights a time-saver if you've forgotten
where you left it in a crowded car park! Should your car ever be stolen, then
using the car's own GPS it can track your T8; and it automatically alerts the
emergency services should your XC90 be involved in an accident.
major transmission controls are beautifully crafted and stylishly presented
on the centre tunnel; the selector lever gives you R-N-D-B (with 'B' being for
battery charging/engine braking while driving). A separate 'P' button locks
the transmission in Park while the currently active gear is always clearly shown.
The keyless entry system comes with an engine start/stop button and close by
is a straightforward electric parking brake with a handy auto mode.
not getting to sit in the
front is often
a big disappointment;
not so in an XC90
because the rear cabin is
not only as impressively
furnished as the front
but is wonderfully light
speed limit sign recognition is on hand to take much of the stress out of watching
for often poorly marked or obscured signs, and warns you clearly of the posted
limits (and if you exceed them) alongside your actual road speed, leaving you
free to watch what's even more important: what's actually going on with the
Also helping to keep your eyes on the road is a head-up display that shows speed
and graphic navigational prompts. Crystal clear, artfully digitised analogue-look
dials provide all the information you might possibly want while driving along.
In most cars, not getting to sit in the front is often a big disappointment;
not so in an XC90 because the rear cabin is not only as impressively furnished
as the front but is wonderfully light and spacious. Split a versatile 40:20:40,
each of the second row seats slides fore/aft plus there's loads of foot room,
the backrests are very adjustable and even somebody sitting in the middle 'slot'
can stretch their legs straight out.
Two adults riding in the outer seats and making good use of the large central
armrest (with its built-in twin cupholders) can lounge with a capital 'L'. And
if they're anti-paparazzi or even anti-ultraviolet, no problem; they can simply
raise the black mesh rear side window blinds. Other nice middle row features
include height-adjustable seat belts, dedicated temperature and airflow controls
and panoramic views out in all directions.
Row three offers a pair of individually folding seats as comfortable as those
in row two that can be reached from either side thanks to tilt-and-slide outer
middle row chairs. And while they're absolutely 'Kids R Us', they really are
usable for shorter adults too. Like the centre row, they get their own air vents,
cupholders, storage bins, and armrests. And when not in use they fold flat into
the boot floor.
the T8 as a five-seater and there's 314 litres for luggage; fold down the second
and third rows and you'll have a huge, totally level, load-swallowing 1,868
litres for cargo. Even opening and closing the tailgate requires no more effort
than plipping the remote key or waggling your foot beneath the bumper
brilliant when it's tipping down with rain and your arms are brimming with shopping.
If towing is something you do, the T8 will make light work of hauling a braked
behind the wheel
though and youll
pleasantly surprised to
find that, dawdling or
and in spite of its near
the T8 is a doddle to
pilot both on the
blacktop and off-road...
Safety is, of course, comprehensively addressed, with genuinely useful driver
aids such as the radar system that sweeps the road ahead to reduce the chance
of any impact with another vehicle. City Safety includes pedestrian, cyclist
and large animal detection, and front collision warning with fully automatic
emergency braking, including at junctions (a Volvo 'world-first').
the XC90 ever inadvertently leave the road there's another system watching out
for you Run-Off Road Protection automatically tightens the front seatbelts
if the T8 unintentionally leaves the road and, if the very worst happens, the
front seat frames have a collapsible section (yet another Volvo world-first)
designed to help prevent spinal injuries in a crash.
Even without all the brand's trademark safety you feel protected in these physically
imposing SUVs. Up close and personal they're reassuringly big and while
they benefit from all-wheel drive-enhanced handling, to compensate for the T8's
additional hybrid weight the suspension, steering and brakes have all been upgraded
to keep the roadholding assured.
Get behind the wheel though and you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that,
dawdling or driving hard, and in spite of its near five-metre length, the T8
is a doddle to pilot both on the blacktop and off-road.
On test last week our T8 generally managed 24-26 miles in pure electric mode
starting out with a full charge. While more would be nice, that's still enough
for a clean commute for many drivers; and once you've reached your destination
a 2.5-hour fast recharge would provide the same again for your return trip.
On longer journeys in its combined hybrid mode, the trip readout regularly showed
50+mpg; and in petrol mode (after the battery charge was all spent), the average
consumption still hovered around the 35mpg mark.
underscores the fact that for all these PHEVs (not just Volvo's) the best 'mpg'
results are down to making the most of the electric power, ideally for sub-27-mile
trips. Doing so means no petrol used, which is what makes PHEVs so appropriate,
and appealing, for city use where short A-to-Bs are the rule and where, particularly
in London, there is a substantial saving to be made by not having to pay the
daily Congestion Charge.
Suspension serves up both a better town
as well as an
ride over the standard
set-up: thus equipped,
our T8 rode fluently
over all surfaces even
rolling on 20-inch
Travelling in the T8, whether you're the one doing the steering or just chilaxing
as a passenger, you won't be able to detect the hybrid powerplant switching
in and out of its different modes: changes are seamless, as too are the changes
made by the eight-speed automatic transmission.
Pull-aways, too, are intriguingly effortless and unbelievably silent (even when
you get used to them) as the XC90 just gathers pace and speed-glides away using
the default electric power-only mode before the petrol engine seamlessly joins
test T8 was fitted with the optional Four Corner Electronic Air Suspension (£2,150)
which serves up both a better town as well as an improved high-speed ride over
the standard set-up: thus equipped, the T8 rides fluently over all surfaces
even rolling on 20-inch alloys with 275/45 tyres.
Although the T8 is not expressly intended for the seriously mucky stuff, its
four-wheel drive is more than happy (and able) to 'step off' the road and 'step
up' when faced with an all-terrain route.
The XC90 has surprised and very pleasantly! a lot of motoring
pundits. As it turns out, despite its 'XL' size and sheer presence, it's quick
off the line, alert and responsive to your right foot.
Handling-wise it's an impressively reassuring machine whether you're tanking
it down an autobahn, cruising through Chelsea, or roughing it up off-road. The
brakes, with hefty vented discs at each corner, are first rate whatever
your speed, the XC90 always, in all conditions, pulls up resolutely and, equally
important, straight and true and with not a hint of drama. The steering is fine
too; if you've moved up from a prestige saloon or estate, you'll feel perfectly
at home behind the T8's quick wheel. Just point its wide-grilled nose
and that's exactly where you'll keep heading.
Body control is well managed and pressing on, apart from the excellent high-riding
views, you could be in a well-fettled saloon rather than a big SUV: even when
not hanging around it changes direction confidently, bumps are cushioned and
there's not a hint of those two bugbears 'float' and 'wallow'
usually experienced in 'jacked-up' vehicles over quickly-crossed undulating
The XC90 is deservedly one of MotorBar's top picks. Overall this high-tech
T8 makes life electronically easier while still offering a fine driving experience;
quiet, refined, relaxed and poised, and in its Sport mode, satisfyingly slingable.
A cosseting, agreeably imperious way to travel. ~ MotorBar
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription
Maximum speed: 140mph | 0-62mph: 5.6 seconds | Test Average: 34.6mpg
Power: 400bhp | Torque: 472lb ft | CO2: 49g/km