The new Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid has been officially ratified as emitting 49g/km of CO2, not 59g/km as officially announced at the car's reveal six months ago. That should mean an official mpg rating of around 134mpg.
The improvement is understood to have been the result of continuing development work following the car’s launch, although it has also been hinted that Volvo was keen to keep the XC90’s full potential a secret until after the figures for the new Audi Q7 e-tron quattro plug-in hybrid had been announced. The Audi, which goes on sale later this year, emits 50g/km of CO2 officially and averages 166.mpg.
The Audi uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 common-rail diesel, delivering 254bhp and 442lb ft of torque. It is mated with a electric motor that develops 126bhp and 258lb ft. Together they provide a combined system output of 368bhp and 381lb ft – sufficient, according to Audi, to endow it with a 0-62mph time of 6.0sec and a 140mph top speed. It has an all-electric range of 34 miles.
In contrast, the XC90 T8 has a supercharged 314bhp four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine with 295lb ft of torque, plus an 81bhp electric motor with 177lb ft of torque. The 0-62mph time is 5.9sec. It has an all-electric range of 24 miles.
The all-new XC90 is the most important car in Volvo's recent history and is already on sale in the UK.
Described as being “three years in the making and part of a £6.5 billion investment programme”, the new XC90 marks “the beginning of a new chapter in Volvo’s history, capturing its future design direction”, the firm says. It also claims that the new XC90 is “hard evidence of the ‘Volvo by Volvo’ strategy”.
The range-topping Twin Engine model carries the T8 badge and, says Volvo, is a "plug-in electric car, hybrid car and high-performance car rolled into one”. It uses a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine to power the front wheels and an 80bhp electric motor to drive the rear wheels.
The most popular model in Europe is expected to be the XC90 D5, which has 225bhp and four-wheel drive. Deliveries of the new car are expected to begin in May 2015, though orders have already opened.
Volvo has also added the petrol-powered T6 variant of its new XC90 to the model range.
Since orders for the seven-seat SUV opened in October, when it was confirmed that the diesel and plug-in hybrid variants would reach the UK, the domestic importer has been surprised by the number of customer enquiries for petrol-powered versions, something understood to be in response to the growing backlash against diesel from law makers.
The T6 is equipped with a 316bhp, 295lb ft version of the new 2.0-litre four-cylinder Drive-E engine, which is both supercharged and turbocharged. Pricing has yet to be confirmed.
The new XC90 is based on Volvo’s much-trailed Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) and uses the firm’s new family of Drive-E engines, which have already been launched in a number of the company’s production cars.
“SPA has enabled us to create the world’s first SUV without compromises,” said Peter Mertens, Volvo’s senior vice president of research and development. “You get the in-command feel, generous interior space and flexible capability combined with the agility and smooth comfort of a much smaller and lower car.”
The XC90 also marks the beginning of the brand’s new design language, which is being masterminded by ex-Volkswagen Group designer Thomas Ingenlath.