Volvo XC90 plugs

into the future

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, nose
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, front, action
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, side, static
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, side
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, rear, action
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, rear
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, rear, static
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, interior
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, apps
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, charging
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, boot
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, dial

VOLVO is on a roll with its two-in-one luxury XC90 T8 SUV.

The XC90 is the first model to be built on the firm's scalable product architecture and using the latest low energy powertrains, the new range topping hybrid combines 320bhp turbo-charged four-cylinder 2.0 litre petrol engine with a plug-in rechargeable 87bhp electric motor at the rear.

Together they push out a maximum 407bhp and a whopping 640Nm or pulling power.

As a result, the 0-62mph increment is zapped in 5.6 seconds and it runs to a restricted 140mph.

Even more impressive is the combined fuel consumption is said to be 134.5mpg and it emits just 49gkm, so BIK rating is just five per cent.

It will do up to 27 miles on its electric power alone from the 400 volt lithium-ion battery pack between the front seats and which can be fast charged from flat to flying in 2.5 hours, or 3.5 hours from a 10 amp supply.

Unlike its XC90 stable-mates, the 225hp 2.0-litre D5 TD and 320hp 2.0-litre T6 petrol, the XC90 T8 uses the petrol engine for the front wheels and the electric motor for the rear, so it can run in FWD, RWD or AWD modes to give assured traction at all times.

XC90s come in Momentum entry level trim, mid-range R-Design and the luxury Inscription but even the base model gets panoramic sunroof, seven seats, a nine-inch touchscreen, sophisticated navigation and internet connections, voice control and the emergency on-call system, with LED turning headlights and powered tailgate.

Bigger touchscreens are available in mid and up-market trims and an enormous range of Apps are being incorporated into the car's Wifi system.

It breaks the mold with the first run-off road protection system which detects if the vehicle is leaving the carriageway and tightens front seat belts with shock absorbers built into the front seats, and its on-board radar sweeps the road to reduce the impact if cutting across another vehicle.

The XC90 T8 Twin can reduce a business users tax bill by £11,470.

Emissions are just 49gkm so the entry level Momentum at £59,850 retail price qualifies for a £2,500 Government plug-in car grant and 100 per cent write off in the first year, which means £11,470 corporation tax relief at 20 per cent.

Recommended retail prices of the T8 rise to £62,750 for the R-Design and £63,600 for the Inscription, considerably more than their petrol and diesel versions.

The UK is Volvo's fourth biggest market globally and a record 43,432 models were registered here last year out of 503,127 around the world, with the V40 and XC60 dominating and pulling in 50 per cent and about 30 per cent of orders respectively.

The new XC90 was launched half way through 2015 and attracted 40,000 orders from all markets.

It is now the ninth most popular SUV in the UK where the sector has seen sales climb 21 per cent and 2,900 were XC90s, but Volvo UK expects that to rise towards 6,000 over the coming 12 months and to ease up to fifth place in the top ten SUVs sold in Britain.

Trade-ins have generally seen quality SUVs from rivals which accounts for the strong sales of the top level Inscription trim taking 38 per cent, just behind the entry-level Momentum's 42 per cent.

Within the series the diesel D5 is most popular with over 80% of registrations while the T6 petrol has just five per cent and there are signs the T8 Twin Engine will take 13 per cent or more.

The Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine is heavier than its stable-mates and has been given carefully revised suspension, brakes and steering to cope with the loading and keep it easy to drive.

The newcomer benefits from the same three year and 60,000 miles warranty as its companion models and servicing is in line with the purely internal combustion powered models.

In a mid-range R-Design T8 Twin Engine we covered 21 miles from start on the 400v lithium-ion battery positioned under the floor between the front seats and in the combined hybrid mode it showed 57.4mpg, but when the charge was exhausted and it seamlessly reverted to petrol power alone it ended up with 35.6mpg overall.

The effortless way it decided which power to use was impressive, but I felt the energy harvesting on over-run could have been stronger to store up more electricity.

The 2.0 petrol engine is very good, quiet and powerful with a good spread of torque, the eight-speed automatic box was velvet smooth and the brakes and steering inspired confidence while the suspension was smooth if slightly on the firm side

Room is not compromised in the T8 because the battery pack is under the "transmission tunnel" so the luggage area is very big and easy to load.

The strong safety credentials of the Volvo XC90 are enhanced by the greener aspects of the T8 and in fact most commuters would do their journey on battery power alone, but its not a cheap alternative to the rest of the range and is going to sell on exclusivity and technology.

Having said that, it is a very good car and for those who can make the most of plug-in performance it becomes a front-runner

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