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The most expensive Volvo XC60 is the quickest and the cleanest, but not the best

Our Verdict

Volvo XC60

Volvo aims its reinvigorated crosshairs at the medium-sized SUV ranks

  • First Drive

    Volvo XC60 T8 2017 review

    The most expensive Volvo XC60 is the quickest and the cleanest, but not the best
  • First Drive

    Volvo XC60 review

    Sound new XC60 offers the same thing as other recent Volvos: confident dynamics and a superb interior
Nic Cackett
19 July 2017

What is it?

Given Volvo’s brilliantly executed and duly over-hyped statement about the (yes, inevitable) electrification of its future line-up, the arrival of the new Volvo XC60 T8 in the UK seems perfectly timed. With its petrol-electric plug-in hybrid arrangement, the range-topping SUV certainly exemplifies the brand’s compass heading for the next decade.

Like the pronouncement itself, there is nothing particularly revolutionary about Volvo’s Twin Engine tech. Up front, there’s a 314bhp combustion engine driving the front wheels; at the back, there’s an 86bhp electric motor for powering the rear axle. The 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder motor is both supercharged and turbocharged, while the motor’s charge comes from a mains-chargeable 10.4kWh battery pack.

Although new to the XC60, the combination is familiar to Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture, having made its debut in the larger XC90While the system’s output and functionality are much the same, the benefit of transferring to the smaller model is plain enough: the XC60 weighs about 200kg less than its sibling, meaning that gains are made in the T8’s already very brisk acceleration from 0-62mph.

Emissions and economy remain the same at 49g/km and 134.5mpg respectively. Counterintuitive, perhaps, but as Volvo is pedalling the meaningless figures returned by the current European Drive Cycle, it’s not worth fixating over. Arguably the more relevant figure is the 28 miles the manufacturer claims for the car’s all-electric range, and the three and a half hours it takes to recharge from a domestic plug. 

What's it like?

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

 

Should I buy one?

There are certainly reasons for doing so: in opulence and aura and straight-line speed, the XC60 possesses a desirability factor compatible with the T8’s asking price. Buy one with the intention of predominantly using it locally or between charge points and the car is likely to live up to the claim of reduced running costs with no obvious compromise on performance.

However, if you broaden your horizons a little or expect a lot from the T8 recreationally (as a Porsche or Jaguar buyer certainly would), the justification hits the skids. Beyond its limited electric range, the most expensive XC60 is no less thirsty than a glut of other fast SUVs – while being heavier and duller to drive. It is the kind of glaring limitation we’ve acknowledged in other comparable plug-in hybrid products, and while it persists, any grandiose statement of intent regarding electrification can be taken with a liberal pinch of salt. 

Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription Pro

Location Surrey; On Sale Now; Price £57,950; Engine 4 cyls in line, 1969cc, supercharged and turbocharged, petrol, plus electric motor; Power 314bhp at 5700rpm (petrol), 86bhp (electric); Torque 295lb ft at 2200-4500rpm (petrol), 177lb ft (electric); Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 2115kg; 0-62mph 5.3sec; Top speed 140mph; Economy 134.5mpg (combined); CO2 and tax band 49g/km, 5%

 

Join the debate

Comments
13

19 July 2017

Supercharger, turbocharger, hybrid what can go wrong. But seriously £58,000 for what, a 4 pot 2.0 with bolt on's. Leaving aside the throttle response there's the weight 2150kg for a 5 seater! 

Fast, yes, best XC60, NO, spend a little bit over half the money get a far more rounded car which is also an XC60.

IMHO (I'm excluding a business POV as I don't know the tax rules).

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

19 July 2017
xxxx wrote:

Supercharger, turbocharger, hybrid what can go wrong. But seriously £58,000 for what, a 4 pot 2.0 with bolt on's. Leaving aside the throttle response there's the weight 2150kg for a 5 seater! 

Fast, yes, best XC60, NO, spend a little bit over half the money get a far more rounded car which is also an XC60.

IMHO (I'm excluding a business POV as I don't know the tax rules).

400bhp Volvo BIK £5200, Tax Payable at 40% = £2000 P.A.

400bhp Porche Macan BIK £23,000  Tax Payable at 40% = £9500 P.A.

Of course The Macan would drive the wheels off the Volvo, but it depends what you want the car for I suppose. It just shows how bizarre the company car system is currently.

 

19 July 2017

Even the cheapest D4 190 bhp XC60 would cost a 40% taxpayer £3300 P.A.

20 July 2017

There is a lot said about BIK, but in my industry most of us get a car allowance, so could not give a jot about BIK. I wonder what the numbers are in terms of company buyers (not fleets, but individual company car owners who don't have to worry about it being seen as a pool car) and private car buyers are. The numbers of company cars on offer in salary packages seems to be diminishing.

Spanner

20 July 2017
Spanner wrote:

There is a lot said about BIK, but in my industry most of us get a car allowance, so could not give a jot about BIK. I wonder what the numbers are in terms of company buyers (not fleets, but individual company car owners who don't have to worry about it being seen as a pool car) and private car buyers are. The numbers of company cars on offer in salary packages seems to be diminishing.

It used to be the case half of car sales went into fleet, lease and hire market. Not sure now.

Sadly your not going to be immune from BIK for too long, the HMRC are strongly looking at bringing in a system where the basic tax you pay on your car allowance is compared to the BIK tax you would have paid if it were a specific company car your running... and charge you whichever is larger!

(even if you bought the car with your own money, its in your name etc, if its used for business and you get an allowance then that is it, its a virtual company car for comparision)

The stupid thing is people taking the company car option and getting an ultra low emission vehicle may be 'rewarded' by having to pay more tax, if the tax due on the alternative car allowance is more!

They want their pound of flesh. If your company only offers you a company car and no car allowance alternative you will be exempt from the comparision and safe to take the lowest BIK car you can get, or tolerate! - It doesn't work the other way, if you get a car allowance you will be compared to a company car driver even if a company car isn't on offer!

Our company is already planning to withdraw the car allowance from those with that choice to protect them from this policy before it becomes law.

Also big companies don't like car allowances as their management can (and have been) prosecuted if you buy a death trap and hurt someone whilst on company business. Directors don't like jail.

If they make you drive a fully maintained lease car they can off-load a fair bit of liability onto them and legally appear to have taken all reasonable steps to avoid you driving an old or poorly maintained vehicle.

 

20 July 2017

Why do Volvo only produce such a high power petrol / hybrid?  Whilst the BIK tax benefit appeals for this vehicle, the 28 MPG and high lease costs associated to the 58K list price do not appeal.

I am sure Volvo would find far more customers if they were to offer a cheaper 200bhp version with better MPG .  I would save around £2000 a year by running one of these, but the business would need to spend £3,500 more a year to lease it?  Looks like I will have to stay with a diesel vehicle for a little while longer. 

22 July 2017
Harry P wrote:

Why do Volvo only produce such a high power petrol / hybrid?  Whilst the BIK tax benefit appeals for this vehicle, the 28 MPG and high lease costs associated to the 58K list price do not appeal.

I am sure Volvo would find far more customers if they were to offer a cheaper 200bhp version with better MPG .  I would save around £2000 a year by running one of these, but the business would need to spend £3,500 more a year to lease it?  Looks like I will have to stay with a diesel vehicle for a little while longer. 

I am sure in the near future Volvo will introduce different engine options, and they are currently working on a 3 Cylinder Petrol Hybrid of about 200 bhp, the first application of which is being put in the new London Taxi.. 

 

20 July 2017

Althought the far lower BIK is an obvious benefit of running a plug in hybrid as a company car, it is also worth highlighting such cars (emissions under 75kg) qualify for 100% Corporation Tax allowance in the first year. If the car is a cash purchase on the company, cars like the XC60 T8 start to look a lot better value. For example;Although the list price of the XC60 T8 above is £57,895, the company buying the car is entitled to write £11,579 (20%) off their corporation tax bill in the first year, effectively bringing the price down to £46,316 (not unreasonable in this market), AND with the added benefit of far lower Benefit in Kind. Added to this, if a charging point is installed at the company premesis, the business can pay for the electricity charge, a fuel beneift of sorts.As another example, my boss, the owner of his own business, was in the market to replace his privately owned since new six year old XC90 D5 with the new model. A used ex-demonstrator D5 Inscription retails for around £50-55k. A fully specced top of the range T8 XC90 (Bowers and Wilkins etc) with discounts comes in at around £69k. Horrifically expensive on paper, until you realise £14k is written off his comapnies corporation tax bill in the first year, bringing the price of a brand new, circa £75k list price XC90 T8 down to around £55k, the price of a used D5 with options. BIK is £208 per month in the first year (40% tax payer - without options) versus £588 for the equivilent diesel. Also his commute is around 3 miles, easily achievable with the electric range.As a private purchase, or even as an employee company car, these kind of high end plug in hybrids probably don't make great financial sense, however for company owners looking for an efficient way to buy a luxury car, they start to make far more sense.This is isn't an advert for Volvo by the way, there are other manufacturers offering equivilent vehicles! If your business is in the fortunate position to have a spare £106k lying around, you could get £21k 'off' a BMW i8...

20 July 2017

I find this an odd review. 

Autocar

"However, if you broaden your horizons a little or expect a lot from the T8 recreationally (as a Porsche or Jaguar buyer certainly would), the justification hits the skids."

Would they? Yes the cars are set up to be more driver focused than the XC60, but would most buyers seriouslly drive hard it recreationally regularly? Would they do that in another rival, the Audi Q5? We all know that a Volvo is not a "drive it hard" type of car brand, they rarely have been. Personally, I think this is no bad thing!

I'm not against judging car dynamics, more that I think contect should be correctly applied. If Volvo had made out that this was the most dynamic car in it's class, and then produced what they have, then Autocar are right to criticise. 

Autocar

"we averaged 24.8mpg with a flattened battery; Porsche claims 24.6mpg for a Macan Turbo on an urban cycle. "

Ok, you already said that Volvo are "peddaling" their figures, do you not think Porsche will also be doing the same? So that isn't a fair comparison. Besides, you will have travelled a certain amount on battery power, so you fuel economy before the batery has depleted will ounter this

20 July 2017

Each time I see the Volvo's interior, it looks even more awkward.  Oversized air vents, undersized buttons looks amazing at the launch of the XC90, but its the quickest-dating interior design of any car.  Loks worse in black plastic, too.

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