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First drive: Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine. Image by Stuart Price.

First drive: Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine
Volvo pulls out all the stops for the new XC90 SUV.

   



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Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine

5 5 5 5 5

The big question before driving the first all-new Volvo XC90 in 13 years was: will it stack up against similarly-priced, premium German rivals? The answer is emphatically yes, and not only that but it's comparable to a Range Rover - a machine that, spec-for-spec, is a good 30 grand dearer. Yes, the XC90 really is that good.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine PHEV
Pricing: XC90 range starts from 45,550; T8 TE from 59,955
Engine: 2.0-litre super- and turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with rear-mounted electric motor
Transmission: all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic transmission
Body style: five-door, seven-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 59g/km (VED Band A, 0 annually)
Combined economy: 112.9mpg
Top speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 5.9 seconds
Power: petrol - 318hp at 6,000rpm, electric motor - 82hp, total output 400hp
Torque: petrol - 400Nm from 2,200- to 5,400rpm, electric motor - 240Nm, total output 640Nm
Boot space: 318- to 1,868 litres

What's this?

The all-new, second generation Volvo XC90, arriving a mere 13 years after the original. But if you don't mind us saying, doesn't it look lovely? All crisp, clean lines and smooth shapes, it's recognisably an XC90 yet is perfectly cutting-edge and 2015. Some of the detailing is marvellous, such as the 'Thor hammer' LED daytime running lamps - standard range-wide in the UK - and the familiar S-shaped upright rear clusters, but best of all it doesn't look gargantuan and bloated from the outside, despite the fact it keeps its original USP within: seven seats.

Let's get into the cabin quickly, though, because it is even better than the exterior. While the old XC90 wasn't exactly dreadful inside, the difference between it and the new one is night and day. This is possibly one of the best car interiors you will find at any price point right now. The quality of the materials used, the beautiful design of the main dashboard fascia, the fresh and intuitive infotainment system with its tablet touchscreen (which uses pinch and swipe motions like a good smartphone) - all of it is an easy match for the Volvo's typically Germanic rivals, but, perhaps more tellingly, it's every bit as good as the cockpit on an L405 Range Rover. That it is as spacious as it ever was in there, with the rear-most seats now usable for people up to five-foot-seven, and has Volvo's trademark comfy chairs is just a bonus. It's a beautiful place to be, irrespective of spec.

Talking of which, the range trims have been simplified into a 'wine glass structure'. Entry level is Momentum (previously SE) and from there you can go up the luxury branch to Inscription (previously SE Lux) or opt for sportiness with R Design (previously known as, well... R Design). But even Momentum cars are extremely well-specified, with items such as satnav, head-up display, leather and a Bowers & Wilkins sound system across the board.

How does it drive?

Stupendously well. Volvo has obviously geared it up more for comfort than for speed, but the XC90 is no disgrace in the corners, possessing decent body control and quick, accurate steering (it's nevertheless perhaps a touch too light, even for an SUV) that makes it easy to place on the road and no rolling mess. Handling is not its main forte, though, because where the XC90 really astonishes is in its level of refinement. Wind and tyre noise are absolutely banned from entering the passenger compartment, which is astonishing when you consider our test car was on optional 275/45 R20 tyres all round. And the ride is just sublime, cushioning occupants from every rut and crevice the road can throw at the Volvo.

Our first drive was in the range-topping T8 Twin Engine model, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) making 400hp and 640Nm. It achieves these rudely healthy figures powered by 'just' a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine, as part of Volvo's Drive-E ethos of using these motors to propel everything in its range. However, that 2.0 is both super- and turbocharged to give 318hp, while the electric motor adds another 82hp. Furthermore, Volvo has wisely chosen not to encumber the T8 hybrid with a god-awful CVT gearbox, instead equipping it with a proper, silky eight-speed automatic. Thus, the drivetrain is as slick and silent as you could wish for, teaming up with the incredible noise suppression and ride to offer the sort of driving experience you'd associate with a Bentley, not a Volvo SUV. The XC90 T8 is plenty quick enough at all speeds and with CO2 emissions of 59g/km, fits into the free VED category and has only nine per cent BIK; admittedly, Volvo did say the economy figure of 112.9mpg would be hard to achieve, unless you can stick to only using the T8's 25-mile-plus fully-electric range.

Verdict

The target for Volvo when creating this second-gen XC90 was clearly to tempt people out of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz SUVs, and possibly a few Porsche Cayennes too. The Swedish firm seems to have overshot the mark somewhat, as the XC90 eclipses anything German, instead feeling every bit as luxurious and refined as the much more expensive Range Rover. In T8 PHEV format as featured here, the Volvo does everything very, very well indeed and turns out to be an absolutely magnificent car. It's surely the new class-leader in the large SUV market.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

5 5 5 5 5 Interior Ambience

5 5 5 5 5 Passenger Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

5 5 5 5 5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 12 Mar 2015



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2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.

2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.



2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.
 

2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.
 

2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.
 

2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.
 

2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.
 

2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.
 

2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.
 

2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.
 

2015 Volvo XC90 T8. Image by Stuart Price.
 






 

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