XC90 NOW CHARGED UP TO SAVE MONEY

Smart and prac­ti­cal — Volvo has added eco-ku­dos to its award­ing-win­ning SUV with in­tro­duc­tion of hy­brid ver­sion

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - MATT KIMBERLEY

VOLVO XC90 T8

WHAT’S NEW?

Volvo’s XC90 has been around for a lit­tle over a year, but in that time, it’s al­ready se­cured a stack of awards and is prov­ing hugely pop­u­lar with buy­ers, too. It mixes sen­si­ble de­sign with at­trac­tive looks and is even more spa­cious and prac­ti­cal than the old car.

But now the crow­ing glory of the XC90 range has ar­rived in the shape of the T8 model.

Com­bin­ing a 2.0-litre petrol en­gine that is both tur­bocharged and su­per- charged, with an elec­tric mo­tor and bat­tery pack makes the T8 a plug-in hy­brid, and one that has the po­ten­tial to de­liver some im­pres­sive per­for­mance and econ­omy fig­ures.

LOOKS AND IMAGE

Only the keen­est of eyes will be able to dis­tin­guish the T8 from its con­ven­tional sib­lings. Chiefly, it is the dis­creet badges front and rear that are the most ob­vi­ous changes, but also the ad­di­tional filler flap on the front wing which gives ac­cess to the charging con­nec­tions. This car then

doesn’t make a fuss about its ca­pa­bil­i­ties; it is as dis­creetly hand­some as all the other XC90S you can buy.

That’s no doubt part of the rea­son why it holds so much kerb ap­peal. Where much of the com­pe­ti­tion has de­cided that bold or even brash is the way to de­sign a large SUV, the more sub­tle Volvo ap­proach is wel­come.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

It’s not just a pretty face how­ever, as the XC90 is even more of a fam­ily wagon than be­fore. Up front there are acres of space. Even with the wide trans­mis­sion tun­nel, the sec­ond row is com­fort­able and spa­cious too while the third row is one of the more use­ful in the class and is easy to ac­cess.

The boot is use­ful in seven-seat mode and huge in five-seat con­fig­u­ra­tion, and plump­ing for the air sus­pen­sion means you can raise and lower the rear end for eas­ier load­ing.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

Once in­stalled in that at­trac­tive cabin, there’s lit­tle to tell you that the XC90 T8 has a sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent pow­er­train. It has four modes to mar­shal what’s avail­able; hy­brid, where the car sorts out the best use of en­ergy for it­self, pure which uses elec­tric only, power mode where both petrol en­gine and elec­tric mo­tor work at the same time to give four-wheeldrive and fi­nally save mode, where the bat­tery’s charge is main­tained un­til you choose to use it.

In hy­brid mode, the petrol en­gine is dor­mant at low speeds and while the bat­tery is charged, but should you prod the ac­cel­er­a­tor hard enough, it chimes in seam­lessly. As with a reg­u­lar hy­brid you can add charge back into the bat­tery by care­ful use of the brakes, help­ing it to reach the claimed elec­tric-only range of 27 miles.

On the flip side, in power mode the T8 is some­thing of a sub­tle rocket ship. There’s 401bhp avail­able with both en­gine and mo­tor com­bined, enough to pro­pel it to 62mph from rest in only 5.6 sec­onds. Us­ing it this way means higher fuel con­sump­tion of course, but the of­fi­cial NEDC com­bined fig­ure of 134.5mpg and 49g/km of CO2 means it qual­i­fies for the Gov­ern­ment grant.

VALUE FOR MONEY

There’s no doubt the T8 is a rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive car — £60,455 in Mo­men­tum guise as tested here — but if it suits the way you need to use your car, it also has the po­ten­tial to be very cheap to run.

The spec­i­fi­ca­tion is also quite lav­ish; satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion on the large 9-inch touch­screen, pow­ered leather seats, alu­minium trim, 19-inch al­loy wheels and a power tail­gate to name just a few.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

If you have al­most any com­bi­na­tion of kids and adults, the XC90 T8 can cope with it, mak­ing it a su­perb fam­ily ve­hi­cle.

On the other hand, if you have to com­mute into a city, hav­ing that saved elec­tric mode is a handy bonus, es­pe­cially as you can re­lax in the sump­tu­ous cabin while you do it.

It’s a lux­ury car for sure, but one that jus­ti­fies the ex­pense.

THIS CAR SUMMED UP IN A SIN­GLE WORD: CA­PA­BLE

If this car was a stereo, it would be taste­ful, ca­pa­ble of in­cred­i­ble sounds, but also smart enough to cut your elec­tric­ity bills.

FACTS AT A GLANCE Volvo XC90 T8 Mo­men­tum,

£60,455 En­gine: 2.0-litre petrol unit and elec­tric mo­tor pro­duc­ing 401bhp and 472lb.ft of torque Trans­mis­sion: Eight-speed au­to­matic gear­box driv­ing all four wheels Per­for­mance: Top speed 140mph, 0-62mph in 5.6 sec­onds Econ­omy: 134.5mpg com­bined Emis­sions: 49g/km of CO2

The elec­tric mode is a handy bonus

The Volvo XC90 T8 has a stylish front grille

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