What is it?
Volvo’s shift to electrification is happening faster than most, to the point it’s currently impossible to buy an XC90 from the factory without some form of hybrid assistance.
A pure electric version of the company’s seven-seat flagship SUV might be a long way off, and a plug-in powertrain remains the preserve of the T8 TwinEngine, but now even entry-level cars get a 48V starter motor/generator and small battery. The system assists the 2.0-litre engine under acceleration and regenerates power under braking, which Volvo says can help cut down on emissions over the outgoing, combustion-only car, and gives real-world fuel economy a boost too.
Our car is the B5 petrol: a 2.0-litre four cylinder, available exclusively with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission, but not to be confused with the slightly pricier B5 diesel. That’s also a 2.0-litre four-pot, but prefers to drink from the black pump.
There are no visual clues as to which is which, with both sporting the same mildest of mild facelifts as the rest of the range, and there’s little to separate them in performance terms, the petrol taking an extra tenth of a second to reach 62mph and having an ever-so-slightly lower top speed.