By Mike Torpey on 2021-11-14 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Volvo XC90 Recharge
Plug-in Hybrid T8
IF the word Recharge appearing in the name of a Volvo model causes any confusion, fear not, the title refers to the Swedish brand's new line of pure electric and plug-in hybrid cars.
It is part of a plan to recharge everything Volvo does, from cars to factories to supply chains, with the ambition to reduce the company's carbon footprint by 40 per cent by 2025 and be completely carbon neutral by 2040.
In terms of its actual product, the aim is for half its global sales to be of fully electric cars - with the rest hybrids - in the next four years.
Sitting atop of the Recharge line-up is full size SUV the XC90, a luxury plug-in hybrid car dripping in understated quality and distinction.
It remains the only large luxury plug-in hybrid to offer seven seats and is also capable of returning 30 miles per gallon in fully electric mode.
Power with efficiency is the secret, in this case a T8 petrol-electric powertrain comprising a 303bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine boosted by an 87bhp electric motor.
Emissions are kept to a minimum at 63g/km and, provided you embrace the plug-in bit, there's the potential for economy of 100.9 miles per gallon.
On the downside, if you just run on petrol power alone you'll be looking at no more than around 30mpg tops.
Charging time is power supply dependant, taking near enough six hours from a domestic socket and half that time if you use a public charger.
Out on the road though the Volvo is smooth, beautifully balanced and relaxing as it eases seamlessly through the eight-speed automatic gearbox.
But there's much more to the XC90 than feisty performance (0-62 in 5.8 seconds), fuel savings and low emissions, because as a premium family SUV the big Volvo has few peers.
The calm, Scandinavian cabin environment is on the one hand minimalist and on the other opulent - bright, airy and clutter-free.
Even with all the seven seats in place there's sufficient legroom for all passengers and while the third row in most large SUVs is reserved exclusively for kids, the Volvo's back pair can fit anyone of 5ft 7ins or less.
Most of the time though, those individual rear seats will be folded down, opening up a cavernous load area of 640 litres with extra storage space below. Fold everything and the stowage leaps to 1,816 litres.
The XC90 Recharge T8 is available in two main trim grades - R-Design (more sporty) and Inscription (luxury) - plus Pro versions of both.
Standard kit includes four-zone climate control, all-wheel drive, a powered tailgate, LED headlights, heated electrically adjustable front seats and a pin-sharp rear parking camera.
The company's Sensus connectivity set-up provides a nine-inch touchscreen to co-ordinate the car's navigation and multimedia needs, voice control, connected services and a SIM card with up to 100GB of data while the Volvo City Safety package of active safety systems in standard on all XC90s.
And opting for our tested Inscription grade, the top trim level, brings different interior trim and upgraded ambient lighting.
Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T8 AWD Inscription
Mechanical:303bhp, 1,969cc, 4cyl petrol engine + electric motor driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
0-62mph: 5.8 seconds
Combined MPG:100.9 (30 miles electric range)
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