By Ian Strachan
Volvo’s V90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid is probably the most complete car you’re likely to drive writes motoring editor Ian Strachan. Not only is it a superbly comfortable, well-specified, roomy, high-performing executive express, but it also gives you low running costs, no congestion charges and no first year road tax.
The V90 T8 has an 87 bhp electric motor, but it also has a 2.0 litre petrol engine to take over when needed, and also to put charge into the electric battery. You can also charge the battery from a standard electric socket or use a quick charge terminal. Either way you’re unlikely to be left stranded.
You have to remember that electric motors don’t make any noise, so initially you think you’ve stalled. And when you start the car, you may not feel it’s actually running. Only the lights on the dash tell you that all is OK. So you get out of the habit of driving by sound, and concentrate on the dashboard lights instead.
It all seems a bit strange at first, but once you’re used to it, you start to appreciate the advantages – like staggering fuel economy averaging 141.2 miles to the gallon and far less CO2 going into the atmosphere – just 46 g/km.
As well as having environmental credentials not shared by its conventionally powered rivals, this Volvo is an excellent estate car, as you’d expect from the Swedish manufacturer. It’s an attractive, solid-looking, practical car which performs faultlessly, is well-specified and pleasurable to drive.
There’s no doubt that this big car is one of the most comfortable cars I’ve driven. Long drives become all the more pleasurable when cosseted in leather luxury in this superbly comfortable car.
The V90 is a very nice car to look at, oozing substance and capability. Modern Volvos are a long way from the square, boxy designs of the past and the V90, while still being a premium estate car, is sleeker and more athletic-looking, with a raked windscreen and a neatly angled tailgate. An altogether more refined and up-to-date look.
I test drove the Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine in Inscription Pro spec which has a very high specification, and comes with a superbly smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.
The interior of this Volvo is of a very high quality, with some attractive features, as well as that ultra-comfortable leather-clad seating and a nice dash layout. Most of the vehicle’s function are controlled via a tablet-style screen which also displays the satnav and media functions. With easy to use swipe-across menus it’s intuitive and simple.
Seating is not just comfortable for driver and front seat passenger. It’s positively luxurious. The car can easily accommodate five adults, and load carrying capacity is excellent, with a large boot aperture and 560 litres of space. The tailgate is powered for easy opening and closing and the rear seats have a 60/40 split.
Handling of the all-wheel-drive V90 T8 is predictable and solid, giving the driver a good feel of the road. Steering is confident and responsive, with just the amount of power assistance you need.
The petrol unit, when operating, is a very pleasant engine. It pulls more than adequately throughout the range and is very quiet. Almost as quiet as when the car is using its electric engine.
Equipment levels are good, with smart 17 inch alloy wheels, perforated leather upholstery and adaptive cruise control coming as standard, along with satellite navigation and traffic information systems, internet browsing, voice control, pedestrian detection, twin-zone climate control, heated steering wheel and heated front seats. This is a Volvo so you don’t have to worry about safety. Every safety feature that can reasonably be put on this car is there including run-off road protection, collapsible front seats to help prevent spinal injuries, lane departure warning and blind spot monitoring standard along with an impressive list of safety features. If you hit anything in this car you can’t say you haven’t been warned.
Other standard features include hill-hold with automatic park brake, DAB radio with media connectivity, Bluetooth, LED headlights with active high-beam, powered headrests and rear backrests and automatic lights and wipers.
The V90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription Prois priced at £59,705 on the road. My test car came with 75,000’s worth of extras including powered glass sunroof, park assist, 360 degree parking camera, an extra-length charging cable and metallic paint.
Volvo has committed to supply every vehicle it produces with an electric motor from next year. This is obviously the way to go.