Earlier this year, Volvo unveiled the second-generation 2015 XC90 SUV at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. The successor to the Volvo’s highly-successful first-generation XC90, which made its debut in 2002, the all-new 2015 XC90 is being marketed by Volvo as being its cleanest, smartest SUV yet.
That’s thanks in part to the range-topping 2015 Volvo XC90 T8, which combines Volvo’s a 2-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged, supercharged Drive-E gasoline engine with two electric motors and a battery pack for plug-in hybrid capabilities.
And earlier this morning, Volvo unveiled some performance figures for its flagship XC90 for the first time, including a 0-62 mph time of 5.9 seconds, an all-electric range of around 40 kilometres (25 miles) per charge, and an overall fuel economy of 59 MPGe.
Like the rest of the Volvo XC90 family, the XC90 T8 is built on Volvo’s new Scalable Pr Product architecture (SPA). Modular in its design, Volvo’s SPA ensures homogeneity between various key components across the entire Volvo family, reducing build complexity and cost while at the same time making it easy for Volvo to offer a wide range of power train options and advanced safety technology.
While the 2 litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged and supercharged engine drives the front wheels through a specially-designe eight-speed automatic transmission, the rear wheels are driven solely by a 60 kilowatt electric motor mounted on the rear axle. As with the Volvo V60 Diesel Plug-in Hybrid, on sale across Europe since 2012, this makes the Volvo XC90 T8 a through-the-road all-wheel drive hybrid, since there is no physical connection between front and rear powertrains.
In normal, everyday, Hybrid operation , the XC90 T8 intelligently switches between its gasoline engine and its electric drivetrain to give the most efficient power blend at all times. Although this is the default mode on startup, the XC90 T8 also offers several other user-selectable driving modes.
In Pure mode, the XC90 T8 operates as a purely electric vehicle up to speeds of 70 mph, provided there’s enough charge in its 9.2 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. In this mode, the XC90 can travel around 25 miles on a full charge. A full recharge from a dedicated 230-volt charging station can happen in as little as 2.5 hours, while a slower 6-amp charge from a household outlet takes 6 hours on 230-volts, and 12 hours on 110 volts.
In Power mode, the gasoline and electric drivetrains work in tandem, giving a maximum power output of 400 horsepower and 472 pound feet of torque. It is in this mode that the XC90 T8 achieves its headline 0-62 mph time of 5.9 seconds.
In AWD mode — a feature that can be activated in either hybrid or electric-only mode — the car automatically sends power to front or rear wheels as required to ensure maximum traction. While AWD can be manually engaged, it’s worth noting that this feature operates quietly in the background, activating if the car detects any loss of traction. When operating in electric AWD, a smaller 34 kilowatt crankshaft-mounted starter generator (CISG) located between the gasoline engine and gearbox is used to provide front-wheel power when required.
As with most other plug-in hybrids on the market, the XC90 T8 also features a charge sustain mode and battery charge mode. In these two modes, the charge in the battery pack can be saved until later in a trip or charged back up upon depletion r respectively
In addition to its plug-in hybrid drivetrain and ability to work as a zero emission electric vehicle, the Volvo XC90 T8 — like the rest of the Volvo XC90 family — debuts some new, advanced safety features designed to make driving as safe as possible for both occupants and other road users.
First, there’s Volvo’s new run-off protection, a feature designed to detect and protect the car and its occupants should it veer off road. On detection of a sudden run-off event — such as swerving to avoid an animal in the road — the car tightens the front-seat-belts and activates a shock-absorbing technology in the seats to ensure that occupants are kept safe from injury.
Second, there’s a new auto-braking feature which detects oncoming traffic at an intersection and automatically brakes to avoid collision if its driver begins a turn when it is not safe to do so.
This high level of technology, high performance and full-size SUV capabilities has led Volvo to claim that the XC90 T8 is the world’s first ‘no compromise’ SUV. With the kind of tailpipe emissions more akin to a hybrid vehicle than an SUV, we can see why, but when we examine the headline price for the XC90 T8, we think it’ll be a tough sell alongside Tesla’s highly-promised Model X Crossover SUV.
That’s because the Volvo XC90 T8 isn’t exactly cheap. While Volvo does offer an entry-level XC90 from £45,550 (which is powered by Volvo’s ageing D5 Diesel engine) anyone wanting plug-in hybrid capabilities will have to stump up £59,550 before incentives. And with no confirmation yet that the XC90 T8 will comply with the necessary emissions regulations to be eligible for a full UK government grant, that could be a tough pill to swallow for many would-be buyers.
What’s more, with both cars offering seating for seven and towing capabilities — although we suspect the XC90 T8 will be rated to two more than the Tesla Model X — there’s really little to differentiate the two cars, save for the cost of ownership.
What do you make of the Volvo XC90 T8? Would you buy one? Do you think the Tesla Model X will be a more sensible purchase, or does Volvo’s history of building super-safe cars persuade you to miss out on the joys of supercharging and free fuel?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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