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On the Road

in Motoring Insight

One is the XC90 B5 with Mild Hybrid, and the other the XC60 Plug-in.
The B5 replaces the D5 and the B-Badge means MHEV (Mild-Hybrid). These engines will become the default engine in the Volvo ranges

Two great Hybrids from Volvo, both very similar, yet both very different.

The Mild Hybrid system recuperates energy lost while braking and decelerating. The power that is generated and saved in the batteries is then used to assist the combustion engine under acceleration. This system not only helps with fuel consumption, but also reduces emissions.

The powertrain is the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel that produces 232bhp, goes from 0-62 mph in 7.6 seconds and has a top speed of 137mph, where allowed. This engine is coupled to a very smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox.

The XC90 has seven-seats as standard, but despite the integration of the 48-volt system, the boot does not lose much space, and still has 680-litre with five-seats in place. With the third row in the up-position, and seven seats in use, there is still space for luggage or supermarket shopping.

A full leather interior is standard on all models, and over the past few years, Volvo have gone overboard on getting the cabin up to a very high level of quality, and they’re now very prestigious. 

The XC90 is a good looking large SUV. It has bold lines and is very appealing. It started life back in 2002 with the MK1, the MK2 took over in 2014, and even though it has been on the market for 18 years, it still looks a fresh and modern car.

It is a pleasure to drive, so comfortable and the high seating position helps the driver see far in front of them, and passengers can see over walls and generally get a better view of the world and in a very luxurious surrounding.

The second Hybrid we had on test was the XC60 T8. The T stands for Twin-Engine as this car has the ability to be powered by either the petrol engine, or on pure electric – hence the Twin Engine.

The XC60 could be classed as a smaller version of the XC90, but only has five-seats. It has the same platform as the XC90 Volvo’s Scaleable Platform Architecture (SPA), and this platform can be increased or decreased in size to accommodate different sized vehicles. A clever way of both saving money on development costs and also easy for the designers and engineers.

The XC60 T8 has a 2.0-litre petrol engine that produces a massive 400bhp, a top speed of 140 mph (where permitted) goes from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds. It does feel quick to drive, but it doesn’t feel as fast as the numbers suggest, it is off like a rocket, but there is no drama with it, it just sits glued to the road. Likewise, on open country twisty roads, it sticks to the road like it is on rails. Some might say it is not much fun to drive for all that power, but bear in mind this is a SUV, and not a two-seater sports car.

But the T8 has the added advantage of being a Plug-In which gives it a very low C02 figure of 49g/km. On the front passenger side wing, there is a small flap, similar to the fuel flap. In the boot, in a very nice black bag that holds two cables, one for quick charging with round five-pins, the other is a standard three-pin plug.

With zero miles in the battery I put the car on charge from a standard plug in my garage, although it had to be done during the day, as the garage door would not shut, and I didn’t want to leave it open overnight.  I was pleasantly surprised to see just how long the cable was. Some other manufacturers are a bit stingy when it comes to cable length, but the Volvo had plenty. Good in one respect, but get two long cables, and it takes up quite a bit of room in the boot. It took just over six-hours to charge it fully and on the dash it said ‘Charging complete’ and showed 18 mile range. A bit of a distance from the claim of ‘up to 28 miles’.

But 18 miles I suppose isn’t bad if you are just going to do short runs during the day, or night. But it is surprising just how quickly those 18 miles disappear, and you are back to normal petrol engine driving.

I personally think the interior of the XC60 is better than the XC90, it just seem more plush and perhaps of an even higher quality. Maybe a trick of the eye, but it certainly was superb.

The XC90 T8 is a great drive, as comfortable as its bigger brother the XC90 and a real pleasure to drive, and no lack of power.

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