Volvo V90 plug-in hybrid long-term test: report 7

In theory, the V90 T6 plug-in hybrid estate car is ideal for someone living on the edge of a city. Our editorial director is finding out if it makes sense in reality...


The car Volvo V90 Recharge T6 Inscription  Run by Jim Holder, editorial director

Why it’s here Can a large plug-in hybrid estate really deliver great fuel economy as well as carry-all practicality?

Needs to deliver A premium experience all round, from interior comfort and capability through to driving dynamics, while also hitting diesel-like efficiency

Mileage 4348 List price £58,300 Target Price £54,419 Price as tested £66,940 Test economy 48.2mpg

14 December 2021 – Putting the boot to the test

A pre-Christmas escape to the Suffolk coast with friends seemed the perfect opportunity to stretch the long legs of my Volvo V90 – with rear-seat passengers able to do the same thanks to the generous legroom, even with a six-foot-plus driver up front.

That the V90 would be a consummate motorway cruiser was never in doubt, but the refinement levels still came as a surprise, with front and rear occupants easily able to hold conversations without even raising their voices.

Although perhaps lacking the sporting edge of a BMW 5 Series Touring, the all-wheel-drive V90 proved surefooted and agile on the narrow, twisting Suffolk coast roads, too, with a vivid turn of pace. The edge came off that performance when we ran out of battery assistance and our hotel couldn’t offer a charge point – a state of affairs that quickly impacts on fuel consumption.

Volvo V90 PHEV by the sea

A cautionary tale about home charging, though: we all occasionally cut corners when in a hurry, and I did just that when I didn’t fully unravel a coiled extension cord for a top-up (I know you always should). I was shocked to return to the porch an hour or so later to find it smelling of hot plastic, with the cable hot to the touch. That’s certainly not a mistake I’ll be making again.

Back on daily duties, the V90 stood in for my usual workhorse on the weekly Food Bank restock. It’s not exactly news that Volvo estates aren’t the cavernous haulers they once were, but it was still a surprise to discover that the load bay wasn’t as practical as that of my old Jaguar XF Sportbrake. The space narrows behind the seats, the rear bench doesn't fold flat and outright capacity is limited by the rake of the rear window.

Still, it swallowed all 30 crates I needed to transport, and you only have to look at it to see that it’s worth the sacrifice: this is a great-looking wagon.

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