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Driven: Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine. Image by Volvo.

Driven: Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine
Hybrid Volvo SUV won't be for all and it's pricey, but it's also sublime.

 



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Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: pretty much everything - it's an elegant and loveable family SUV

Not so good: PHEVs do not suit long-distance driving and the T8 is fearsomely expensive with options

Key Facts

Model tested: Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine Inscription Pro
Price: XC60 from 37,770; T8 Inscription Pro from 59,770; car as tested 69,995
Engine: 2.0-litre super- and turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with 64kW electric motor
Transmission: all-wheel drive, eight-speed automatic
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 49g/km (free from VED for first 12 months, then 440 per annum years two to six of ownership, then 130 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 134.5mpg
Top speed: 140mph
0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
Power: 320hp at 5,700rpm for engine; electric motor 87hp; combined system maximum output 407hp
Torque: 400Nm from 2,200-5,400rpm for engine; electric motor 240Nm; combined system maximum output 640Nm

Our view:

We're not going to subject you to a long discourse on the merits of the second-generation, SPA-based Volvo XC60 SUV, as we've already tested it as a D4 AWD R-Design and absolutely adored it, if accepting that the sportier trim (while making the D4 handle better than any other SPA product from the company) introduced too much tyre noise and overly firm-riding characteristics to prevent it getting a perfect score. So if you want to know what we think of the looks, interior and general character of this mid-sized premium SUV, have a read of that article. The precis, though, reads: astonishing, in every detail.

Instead, this time we're going to the other end of the drivetrain tree and sampling the mighty T8 Twin Engine, which is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). We're also not going to have a lengthy debate about convincing you of the benefits or otherwise of having a hybrid like this - in short, they work brilliantly if you live 20-30 miles from your place of work and you can charge them regularly both at the office and at home, but they are not going to be the ideal choice for people who spend the vast majority of their time on motorways. Case in point: we had this T8 for a week and covered 293.5 miles. Overall, it gave back 42.6mpg in that time, returning about 35-40mpg on a long motorway run with a bit of charge in its battery. Not a bad achievement at all for a 407hp, 2,115kg (yes, 2,115kg...), petrol-powered SUV. But a long way from its official 134.5mpg... as was the figure of 703.2mpg for our first day and 13 miles at the wheel, or a rough figure of about 190mpg for its first 50 miles, using a mix of electric (with plenty of quick recharging from a three-pin domestic socket) and petrol. So you can see how you need to use the T8 to get the best from it.

But we will say this Volvo XC60 charmed the pants off us (strong mental imagery, there, for which we apologise) during its week in our company. The smoothness of the hybrid drivetrain and the more luxury-orientated specification of Inscription Pro suits this easy-going family SUV down to the ground. The sumptuous ride quality on the T8's standard-fit four-corner air suspension was little short of exemplary, the general air of quiet at speed in the cabin deserves only the highest of praise and the performance of the Twin Engine drivetrain was incredible - the XC60 felt a lot quicker than the XC90 T8 when we last drove that and the 2.0-litre super- and turbocharged engine not only felt lively, it also sounded pretty good, with a hard-edged snarl to it under hard acceleration. The handling was even impressive too, although not as sharp as the same SUV in R-Design trim with its sportier tyres. Nevertheless, dynamically the T8 blew us away and soon had us mentally crowning it as champion of its class.

Which brings us to the thorny subject of the price - look away now if you're the incredulous type, because we're going to try and justify a 70 grand Volvo XC60. Yes, that's a lot of money. A gargantuan heap of cash. But try and remember the Volvo is laden with everything for 69,995 and it has 407hp as well, making it more powerful and quicker than ostensibly sporty rivals like the Audi SQ5, BMW X3 M40i and Jaguar F-Pace V6 S. Only the Porsche Macan Turbo can rival the Swede for power and outperform it from 0-62mph, and that starts at almost 64,000... without many of the toys the Volvo packs. So yes, the towering list price cannot be ignored - and it means, for reasons of pesky professionalism, that we regrettably have to refrain from giving the T8 full marks overall - but neither can you overlook the fact that, remarkably, the XC60 T8 feels good value for that 70,000.

However, it's as simple as this: buy an XC60, equip it with either the D4 or the more powerful D5 (if you crave some punch from your SUV) turbodiesel engine, tick the box marked 'Inscription Pro', treat yourself to some choice options - like the stupendous Bowers & Wilkins sound system - and you will have, incontrovertibly, the best mid-sized premium SUV on the planet. This is another world-beating Volvo, no doubt about it.

Alternatives:

Audi SQ5: none of the rivals here have (yet) put PHEV drivetrains into this size of vehicle. So the range-topping Q5 is the strangely underwhelming TFSI SQ5. We preferred the old diesel Audi.

BMW X3 M40i: cracking steer and has the pace to match the Volvo with both its engines lit, but the Beemer lacks the XC60's urbane appeal and its 3.0-litre straight-six will be more expensive to run.

Porsche Macan Turbo: only thing comparable for performance and power is the Turbo Macan. Although the stocked Volvo as tested was touching 70 grand, the Porsche starts at 64k with less kit.


Matt Robinson - 2 May 2018









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2018 Volvo XC60 T8. Image by Volvo.2018 Volvo XC60 T8. Image by Volvo.2018 Volvo XC60 T8. Image by Volvo.2018 Volvo XC60 T8. Image by Volvo.2018 Volvo XC60 T8. Image by Volvo.

2018 Volvo XC60 T8. Image by Volvo.2018 Volvo XC60 T8. Image by Volvo.2018 Volvo XC60 T8. Image by Volvo.2018 Volvo XC60 T8. Image by Volvo.2018 Volvo XC60 T8. Image by Volvo.








 

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