Sunday Express

Volvo’s hybrid gets a B plus


VOLVO is striding ahead with its plan to electrify all its models with the goal to make every vehicle a pure EV. But for the moment the Swedish (but Chinese-owned) company is busy making hybrid versions of everything it produces.the latest we’re testing today – the XC90 B5.

There’s already a plug-in hybrid version ofvolvo’s biggest SUV that’s badged as the T8 or as the company describes it, the Twin Engine.the B5 version is a mild hybrid.

Different car companies have different interpreta­tions of this phrase, some referring to a simple starter/generator and others likevolvo and Mercedes-benz using it to describe rather more substantia­l systems.the B5 is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine that produces 235bhp and 480Nm of torque.

There’s also a starter/generator unit used on the engine but this is fed by a 48-volt battery that’s charged by a KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) as you lift off the throttle or brake.

You can’t feel any of this happening, you just drive this car like you would a convention­al says you’ll be experienci­ng a fuel saving of up to 15 per cent. Official figures are a combined fuel consumptio­n of 44.1mpg and emissions of 156g/km of CO2.

There’s something else that you’ll be experienci­ng and that’s a very smooth powertrain.the challenge to meet


Diesel – 2.0 235bhp

0 to 62mph in 7.6 seconds, 137mph top speed ever-stricter emissions regulation­s is robbing many engines, particular­ly diesels, of a smooth power delivery.

A recently tested Volkswagen T-cross’s diesel didn’t want to pull much under 1,500rpm which made for jerky progress in town. Many diesels don’t provide the seamless accelerati­on that we’ve been used to.

So far it’s a win-win, with improved economy and extra smoothness.

Volvo has also taken the opportunit­y to give the XC90 a mild facelift.

T’S ALWAYS been an attractive vehicle to my eyes; more sophistica­ted and classier looking than BMW’S X5,audi’s Q7 and Merc’s GLE.THE changes are limited to a new grille, front bumper and air intakes. Oh, and the R-design – the trim level we’re driving – gets all-black trim.

Our B5 R-design Pro comes in at £60,835 less a handful of options that are fitted to it, such as a Bowers & Wilkins audio system that adds £3,000 to the tally. At least in the XC90 you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.all versions have seven seats as standard and voiceactiv­ated infotainme­nt that in my experience seems to work better than other companies’ systems, though it’s far from having a 100 per cent success rate.

Also standard are LED headlamps and, as you’d expect from a company whose whole brand image is to do with safety, loads of driver assistance and protection systems.

One that is a world-first is front seats with a section in their frames that is collapsibl­e so that vertical forces are reduced and therefore so is the risk of spinal injuries.

All Volvos have stunning interiors right down to the cheapest XC40.AND that goes for the entry-level (if you can use that expression in a range that kicks off at £52,235) XC90 Momentum. R-design is the sportiest trim, and the Inscriptio­n and Inscriptio­n Pro luxury-focused trims.

There’s plenty of space, as you’d hope in a large SUV that weighs over two tonnes.

The luggage area isn’t quite as large as it was on the previous D5 model because those 48v batteries have robbed some space, but it’s still massive.

For a big, heavy motor the XC90 handles well and, more importantl­y, steers and rides well.the powertrain is smooth and there’s more than enough performanc­e.

If you want to show the neighbours you’re being kind to the environmen­t the lack of badges and gimmicks will be a disappoint­ment.

There are no fancy gauges in the instrument panel that tell you when you are charging the batteries or driving particular­ly economical­ly.

All that’s going – butvolvo assumes you don’t need to know about it, as the results will be demonstrat­ed at the fuel pumps.

44.1mpg 156g/km BMW X5, Audi Q7, Mercedes-benz GLE 8/10

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