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Volvo XC60 hybrid T8 Twin Engine review

Published:17 September 2020

Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, front view, black, driving, 2020
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

► Doesn’t actually have two engines
► One petrol engine, one e-motor
► Let down by lack of dynamic polish

The T8 Twin Engine variant tops the Volvo XC60 range. Of course, it’s not actually twin-engined, despite being called Twin Engine. Instead, it pairs a supercharged and turbocharged 316bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine that drives the front wheels with an 86bhp electric motor that drives the rears.

In combination that gives this Volvo XC60 hybrid 401bhp.

Yet because it's a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) with batteries you can juice via the mains - making it part of the Volvo Recharge line-up - and a decent slug of pure-electric capability, the claimed fuel economy is as much as 113mpg even under WLTP.  Meanwhile, CO2 emissions are as low as 56g/km.

CAR's guide to the best hybrid SUVs

113mpg? Really?

Those economy figures are possible because you can plug the T8 in to the mains, allowing you to motor on electric power alone for up to 31 miles (depending on spec).

Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, side view, black, driving, 2020

But beware longer trips: we managed two charges during a 600-mile test drive, with the fuel computer ’fessing up to a far less impressive 27mpg.

Bet it feels fast, with all that power on tap?

When you first unleash all 401bhp, 27mpg seems almost acceptable. The T8 feels outlandishly, almost incongruously, rapid.

It’s quick off the mark, and fires through the mid-range like a methanol-fuelled dragster wearing a lookalike XC60 bodyshell.

Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, interior, 2020

At saner speeds, the petrol four is smooth and refined, and the transitions between it and pure electric are subtle; yes, it growls less pleasingly at high revs, but it’s never harsh.

The ride can be, however. The XC60 T8 hybrid comes as standard with the air suspension that’s offered optionally on lesser models. Its lack of outright dynamism is consistent with Volvo’s ethos of leaving the aggressive stuff to the Germans, but the patter over less-than-smooth surfaces is not – a car like this should ride more serenely.

Not the sharpest handler, then?

It’s not bad, but there’s a lack of finesse and feel that discourages quicker driving. Forgivable given the target market’s preference for comfort over dynamism, perhaps, but while the XC60 gobbles motorways with generally great refinement, it rides surprisingly poorly over lesser surfaces.

Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, rear view, black, driving, 2020

The brakes also disappoint. Because this is a hybrid, some energy is recuperated under braking and fed back to the batteries, and any engineer will tell you that managing the transition between the electrical harvesting under light braking (which slows the car without discs and pads actually being used) and the actual brakes when you press the pedal harder is incredibly difficult. It certainly seems to have been a challenge for Volvo, because the brakes are so fiercely over-sensitive, you almost fling yourself through the windscreen on first acquaintance. A little more progression would certainly be welcome.

Verdict

This lack of dynamic polish is a shame, because this XC60 hybrid is otherwise a very likeable SUV, one that delivers so much of the class and space of the XC90 that other than having seven seats and more luggage capacity, you wonder why you’d spend extra. Now that Volvo-parent Geely owns Lotus, perhaps a trip to Norfolk could work wonders.

On the other hand, given the premium XC60 price the T8 demands over all other variants - including the T6 hybrid - perhaps opting for one of the more ordinary models makes more sense, the reduced performance a better fit for the laid-back driving experience. Although, even the entry-level XC60 Momentum is hampered by enormous 18-inch alloy wheels, so you still can't expect the most cossetting ride.

The best hybrid SUVs - on CAR

Specs

Price when new: £57,720
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1969cc 16-valve four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged with electric motor, 401bhp, 472lb ft
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Performance: 5.1-5.2sec 0-62mph, 112mph, 100.9-113.0mpg, 64-56g/km CO2
Weight / material: 2169-2225kg / steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4688/1902/1658mm

Rivals

Other Models

Photo Gallery

  • Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, side view, black, driving, 2020
  • Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, interior, 2020
  • Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, instrument cluster digital dials
  • Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, hybrid mode, central touchscreen
  • Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, dead-on front view, black, driving, 2020
  • Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, crystal gear selector
  • Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, rear view, black, driving, 2020
  • Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, boot space
  • Volvo XC60 hybrid review - T8 Twin Engine plug-in driven, rear view, black, driving round corner, 2020

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

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