Quiet, fast and luxurious – but not without some notable inconsistencies, including a predictably narrow band of real-world usability. The car’s smarts, at least, are instantly noticeable: in top-spec Inscription Pro trim (R-Design is also available) the T8 displays fit and finish easily commensurate with a Range Rover Sport and, thanks to the practically noiseless pull-away, has the ambience to match its material indulgence.
The XC60 T8 also has the pace. You’ll need the drive mode set to Power to equal Volvo’s claimed 5.3sec 0-62mph time, but even in Hybrid - a more conventional mingling of electric motor and engine – the XC60 is in the top tier of quick SUVs despite its heft. Having said that, extracting all (or most) of the performance is not necessarily in keeping with the car’s temperament or its suggested merits.
For a start, the predominantly front-wheel-drive XC60, while steadfastly competent in the handling department, is no Jaguar F-Pace or Porsche Macan. Push on as you might aboard its rivals and its somewhat brittle wheel control and uncommunicative steering (alongside its inflated kerb weight and grabby brakes) tend to make the chassis feel like it’s under duress rather than bristling with dynamic reward.
Secondly, you’ll chow through the car’s modest battery life, and unless you’re on a very short journey, managing the charge becomes a familiar preoccupation. Like a number of rival solutions, the T8 allows you to hold onto your zero-emissions range for later use, typically in the Pure drive mode, which noiselessly spirits you about town.
The problem here is that because 86bhp is not a lot of grunt when shifting two tonnes, Volvo has not been able to banish the combustion engine completely – opting instead to keep it under a delayed, are-you-sure throttle response – meaning that when it does cut in, it does so with all the smoothness of a father-of-the-bride hitting the wedding dancefloor.
In Hybrid mode, the transition is much smoother, but there’s still a gentle lull as the engine kicks in. The fact that the XC60 is at its most consistent when the battery has all but run out – or you’re charging it from the engine – rather says it all. Of course, reach this point and the reasoning for buying a T8 starts to slide: we averaged 24.8mpg with a flattened battery; Porsche claims 24.6mpg for a Macan Turbo on an urban cycle.