New Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge 2022 review
The Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge’s improved powertrain brings a boost in all-electric range and fuel economy
The Volvo XC60 is still a premium SUV with strong appeal almost half a decade after its debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, and this updated T8 Recharge model brings improved plug-in hybrid tech to Volvo’s mid-size SUV. Perhaps the only qualm is the cost of the T8, which at almost £65,000 is hitting the very limits of price in this class. The T6 version offers identical efficiency, with a smaller price tag, so is the more appealing plug-in option.
It’s been almost five years since the arrival of the Mk2 Volvo XC60, and during that time it has been subject to a steady stream of updates.
Last year it received its official mid-life facelift, but less than 12 months on, the XC60 line-up looks different again. In the UK, there’s a new trim structure replacing the Momentum, Inscription and R-Design model lines with Core, Plus and Ultimate.
The battery capacity of all plug-in hybrid XC60s has been increased from 11.6kWh to 18.8kWh, a move intended to bring the all-electric capability in line with a growing cluster of premium PHEV SUVs rivals that feature large batteries, such as the new Jaguar F-Pace P400e.
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The result is a car that can now cover a claimed 47 miles solely on battery power, and with CO2 emissions that make it an even better proposition for company car owners, with a Benefit-in-Kind taxation rate of seven per cent.
The updated plug-in powertrain doesn’t just bring these benefits, however. It’s also the key to transforming the T8 version of the XC60 Recharge into the most powerful road-going production Volvo ever.
Thanks to an uprated electric motor, total system power is now 449bhp, which means a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds, although top speed remains electronically limited to 112mph, as per Volvo’s new self-imposed restriction.
We’ve always liked the XC60 Recharge, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a more powerful version with greater all-electric range makes this an even more appealing premium SUV to spend time in.
It glides away almost silently in EV mode, and equally quiet, emissions-free running can be sustained right up to motorway speed if you don’t push the throttle past kickdown, bringing the engine into life, or switch the XC60 into the Power drive mode.
So while the T8 Recharge’s behaviour is little different to before, you will feel quite a difference when you’re under full throttle, or you select the Power mode, to unlock all 449bhp. The engine is still a little short of refinement at the top end of its rev band, and it isn’t a particularly thrilling four-cylinder unit, but with the additional electric power it’s certainly a faster SUV than before.
Either in full-EV or hybrid mode, you won’t find the XC60 T8 Recharge lacking, and the extra grunt means it should be an even better car for towing than before, too.
Space for four adults is good, and while boot room has taken a minor hit, falling to 468 litres, due to packaging the electric motor, those losses are felt under the boot floor. The effective space behind the tailgate is the same as in mild-hybrid XC60s.
Elsewhere, the car remains as it has been for some time. The steering is lighter than in sportier rivals from BMW and Mercedes, and the ride is slightly softer, too. Despite the high level of power on offer, it still feels very much like a relaxed cruiser rather than a performance SUV. If you don’t stretch the 2.0-litre engine all the way to its maximum, it remains quiet and refined. Ride quality matches these traits with a generally smooth and controlled feel.
There is one more EV-inspired difference, though: the inclusion of one-pedal driving, using stronger regenerative braking to bring the car to a halt. If you’re used to driving an EV with this feature, the plug-in hybrid XC60 does a good job of imitating it.
Even in its fifth year on sale, the car’s interior quality remains a high point. New for 2022 is updated infotainment using Google-developed Android Automotive software, although the system is dressed to have a similar appearance to those previously used in other Volvos.
It’s a strong set-up, but perhaps one that has left the brand guilty of delegating too many tasks to the touchscreen, given that the drive-mode selector switch has been removed. This function, like many others, is now buried in a sub-menu.
|Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge Ultimate
|2.0-litre 4cyl petrol turbo
|Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive