Volvo XC90 Recharge

Plug-in Hybrid T8

AWD Plus

Volvo XC90 Recharge, 2021, side
Volvo XC90 Recharge, 2021, front
Volvo XC90 Recharge, 2021, rear
Volvo XC90 Recharge, 2021, interior
Volvo XC90 Recharge, 2021, boot
Volvo XC90 Recharge, 2021, charging
Volvo XC90 Recharge, 2021, badge

WINTERS in Sweden can be very severe so it makes sense that cars built there are amongst the best when it comes to cossetting their owners when cold weather hits.

At least that's my theory, and after a chilly time driving a new Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid I'm even more convinced.

Not only did the cabin heat up on icy mornings quicker than any other car I can remember but it also had fast action heated seats in both the front and rear and a heated steering wheel.

And the real bonus on icy mornings was the heated windscreen. So no scraping, which was probably as well as the height of this big SUV and the size of the screen meant it wouldn't have been easy.

But if you buy one you can even put an app on your phone to allow you to heat the car before it's time to drive off.

Creature comforts apart, however, it's business users who really reap the benefit of buying a Volvo plug-in hybrid because it dramatically reduces the level of benefit-in-kind tax they pay - eight per cent as opposed to 37 per cent with an equivalent petrol version.

The downside is the car is dramatically more expensive than the comparable petrol model which would be around £5,500 cheaper. So you have to do the maths to see which XC90 is right for you.

The current seven-seater XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid has undergone a number of changes in recent months making it both more appealing and more responsive.

The 2.0-litre engine stays the same but the electric motor has been boosted from 87hp to 145hp while the battery size has been increased by more than 50 per cent.

The result is a car with a whopping 455bhp - up from 390bhp - capable delivering a 0-62 miles per hour time of just 5.4 seconds.

And the bigger battery means it now has a 44-mile all-electric range, up almost 50 per cent on previous generation models while at the same time doubling the official mpg figure.

Other even more recent changes include the adoption of an Android powered infotainment system with Google built in. So if you are running short of fuel a simple "hey Google how far is the nearest petrol station" will result in an instant answer allowing you to keep your eyes on the road.

There's also a new generation of safety systems with new sensors and radars to detect obstacles, as I found out when my car stopped abruptly as I was reversing on a car park. It had detected a very low concrete bollard that I had missed, ensuring my paintwork stayed intact.

And if you thought one-pedal driving was the exclusive domain of fully electric cars think again. On this model you simply pull the gearshift to B instead of D to ensure the car brakes heavily as you come off the accelerator, while at the same time boosting the battery charge.

This high flying T8 is hardly the cheapest of cars but it's packed with some impressive wizardry.

Its default starting system is in Hybrid Auto, which means the car does its own thing by running on the battery, the engine or a combination of the two to give the best possible result in any given situation.

But you can set it to hold whatever charge you have in the battery - in case you want to switch to electric power through towns or cities - or alternatively set it to fully charge the battery from the engine.

There's also the option of driving in constant all-wheel-drive or alternatively off-road mode.

But if it's power you're looking for just key in Pure, and then hold on tight.

FAST FACTS

Volvo XC90 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T8 AWD Plus

Price: £76,525

Mechanical: 455bhp from 1,969cc four-cylinder petrol engine plus 145 hp electric motor driving all wheels via an automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112 mph

0-62mph: 5.4 secs

Combined MPG: 5 hours on a 3.7 kW charger

Insurance Group: 28 g/km

C02 emissions: 8%

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