Volvo XC90 T8 long-term review
A 2019 facelift gives us the perfect reason to run our Plug-in Hybrid of the Year, the Volvo XC90 T8...
The car: Volvo XC90 T8 Inscription Run by: Alan Taylor-Jones, new cars editor
Why it’s here: To see if our favourite plug-in hybrid has been improved by a range of updates
Needs to: Make long slogs up and down the country relaxing for a car full of people and their luggage
Price £67,045 Price as tested £74,095 Mileage 2610 Official economy 113mpg (WLTP combined) Test economy 29.7mpg Options fitted Bowers & Wilkins stereo (£3000), Xenium pack (£1600), Winter Pack (£525), Maple Brown metallic paint (£700), blindspot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and rear collision mitigation (£500), dark-tinted windows (£400), Family pack (£275), 4.5m Type 2 charging cable (£50)
16 August 2019 – our XC90 goes to Devon
A couple of weeks into the XC90’s time with us and it’s already racked up more than 2500 miles, and my holiday in Devon for a milestone birthday in the family was easily the biggest contributor.
Fuel economy for the trip wasn’t anything to write home about, with an average of just under 30mpg. And while a charging point at the cottage we stayed at would have helped boost that by letting me do some of the local journeys on pure battery power, that would have been wishful thinking – and I decided trailing cable out of the window and plugging into a three-pin socket was a bit risky due to some antique-looking electrics.
But in most other respects the T8 was a brilliant holiday chariot. Its boot is so vast in five-seat mode than we didn’t even need to worry about packing carefully – a good thing because I have a habit of leaving things to the last minute. The standard three-zone climate control also meant I could keep my 13-month-old daughter cool in the back without having chilly arms in the front.
The only complaint from passengers – which often included my 70-year-old parents who weren’t that keen on tackling the narrow Devonshire lanes in their own car – was the occasionally crashy ride at low speeds. It’s one of the reasons the car's keeper – Alan Taylor-Jones – opted to stick with the smallest (20in) wheels available when speccing his T8, but it hasn’t really helped matters. Still, the big XC90 does waft along suitably smoothly on the motorway.
Back in London, I’ve been plugging in regularly and using the Pure driving mode whenever possible. This forces the car to keep the petrol engine switched off and use any charge in the battery (which is slightly larger on the facelifted model than it was on the original T8 model). I’ve found 20-25 miles is easily achievable when driving gently.
But is driving around on battery power actually cheaper than it would be to use the petrol engine to drive the same distance? To find out, I decided to do a geeky experiment by using some of the hi-tech equipment we use to conduct our Real Range tests on purely electric cars. Firstly, I measured how much energy the car needed to charge the battery from empty to full (the answer is 10.8kWh). Then assuming a 14p cost per kWh charge – the average charged by energy supplier in the UK – I worked out that each mile travelled cost about 6p.
Assuming an average of 30mpg, which is roughly what the T8 has been averaging with an empty during its time with us so far, means every mile using petrol power costs about 20p. That’s a huge difference that works out to about £1400 every 10,000 miles. In short, plugging in is well worth the effort – even if it does mean trailing a cable out of your kitchen window.
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