I’m in with the in crowd.
If there’s one car franchise who in 2018 can seem to do no wrong, it’s Volvo. New launches such as the XC40 & V60 have been very well received & as the UK government stumbles around in the dark, trying to work out if diesel engines are the ‘ Darth Vader ‘ they are claiming they are. Volvo, which is ostensibly a diesel brand, has a ready & waiting tax friendly replacement to diesel for business users, in the form of the Twin-Engine T8 models, which come with a BIK of just 9%. We’ve driven the really rather excellent XC90 version & recently had the opportunity to spend some time with it’s little brother the XC60.
As with the other models in their range, the XC60 standard entry-level model is Momentum, but the T8 version is only offered in R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription & Inscription Pro specs. The entry level R-Design will set you back a healthy £53,800, so it’s not cheap when compared to the D5 PowerPulse XC60 diesel which costs £44,250. We were testing the R-Design Pro which is available from £56,850.
Petrol or diesel, the XC60’s interior is lovely, featuring soft touch plastics & leather. All of the switchgear will be familiar to Volvo customers & it, along with everything inside the cabin has been put together with the utmost Scandinavian care. It truly is a relaxing place to be. I preferred our test cars simple black & chrome interior to the ‘driftwood’ styling that can be found on higher spec models.
Most of the crash functions are controlled by Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system, which is standard across the XC60 range & is, now that I have used it several times, a real standout. This brings a 9″ portrait-style touch screen, SatNav – including lifetime annual map updates & Real-Time Traffic Information (RTTI) – & an intuitive voice-activation system. It also provides access to the internet with a range of cloud-based apps such as Spotify, TuneIn, Stitcher and Yelp.
Volvo’s City Safety system is fitted to every XC60. This includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection & the world-first application of Steer Assist. This feature helps to avoid or limit the severity of collisions at low speeds by assisting with the steering in an emergency, such as when swerving to miss an obstacle.
Pilot Assist, Volvo’s innovative semi-autonomous drive feature, is an optional extra on every XC60. It assists with the steering (up to 80 mph) & takes care of the acceleration and braking required to keep the car within lane markings & at the desired cruising speed or distance from any vehicle in front. Pilot Assist is another step towards fully autonomous driving.
As standard, entry-level Momentum variants come with leather-faced upholstery, LED headlights with active high beam, two-zone climate control with ‘CleanZone’ air-filtration system, heated front seats, a powered tailgate & 18″ alloy wheels.
The dynamic R-Design version adds 19″ alloy wheels, sports suspension, sports seats trimmed in leather and Nubuck, a high gloss black front grille, and silver matt and high gloss exterior detailing.
The luxurious Inscription trim level gets Nappa soft leather upholstery & electrically adjustable ventilated front seats. It also has a different style of 19″ wheels, chrome exterior details & rear footwell and side step illumination.
Every version is also available, as our test version, in highly specified Pro form. R-Design Pro brings powered front seats, a heated steering wheel & windscreen, active bending headlights with adaptive shadow technology & Volvo On Call. There’s also 21″ alloy wheels & electronic air suspension with adaptive dampers, while Inscription Pro has 20″ wheels, the upgraded suspension & a massage function for the front seats.
An optional Xenium package is available across the range adding a powered tilt & slide panoramic glass sunroof, a 360 degree surround view parking camera system Park Assist Pilot, which includes automatic parallel & 90 degree parking.
Smartphone Integration is another option & includes Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. This provides access to certain functions of your Apple or Android device & optimised apps directly via the XC60’s touch screen, voice-activation system or the buttons on the steering wheel.
The similarities between the XC60 T8 & larger XC90 T8 are there. Thor’s Hammer LED daytime running lights, although longer in the XC60, upright grille, a different one for each specced model in the range, traditional Volvo rear light clusters, which are extended horizontally on XC60, the new XC60 could only be a Volvo. In fact when you compare the XC60 to the XC90, it’s only 261mm shorter, 118mm lower & 9 mm narrower than it’s larger sibling, the benefit of which can be seen inside the cabin, with good front & rear head & legroom. Four adults will travel in great comfort, but the centre rear seat will fall short for most adults on anything other than a medium journey.
The similarity doesn’t end there though, because like the XC90 T8 the XC60 T8 is powered by the same 1969cc petrol engine, offering a 0-62mph time of just 5.3 seconds & a top speed of 140mph. In the XC60, though, the motor gets its power from a 10.4kWh battery rather than the XC90’s 9.2kWh unit, and this car can travel up to 28 miles on pure electric alone. Emissions of just 49g/km are the icing on the cake.
We now have an EC charger at the office & what a difference this made to my week in the T8. A full recharge took around 2 hours & gave me about 21 miles of pure electric use. This meant that I averaged almost 35 mpg in my week in the T8, an almost identical reading to the figure I recorded in the diesel XC60 & diesel XC40 earlier this year. The sheer weight & shape of the XC60 – it’s an SUV after all- mean that it is never going to shine when compared to the lower & leaner V90 diesel I also drove recently, which returned 43mpg.
It won’t have escaped many business user’s, that from 2019 every new Volvo will come with an electric motor to power it in some way or another, so Volvo are going all-in with their plug-in-hybrids. When your BIK is 21% lower in an XC60 T8, than in an entry level D4 diesel, it’s easy to see why Volvo are pushing this option.
As usual, I spent my week attempting to conserve fuel & energy & with that home/office EV charger did just that. Yes, I had a bash in Power mode, put my foot down & the T8 is fast. But it’s so well controlled it doesn’t feel really exhilarating, which may disappoint some. It’s not as much fun as the BMW X3 or Jaguar F-Pace for example. Furthermore, with just 86bhp on offer from the electric motor, trying to pull a car that weighs 2,115kg, means that the petrol engine kicks in quickly. Fuel economy will therefore suffer, which is why is stuck it Hybrid mode all week.
You can ‘hold’ the battery’s charge for use later & you can also ‘charge’ up the car on the move with the engine acting as a generator, but this is particularly inefficient. ‘Hybrid’ is the best mode to drive the T8 in & the switch between EV & petrol power is smoother when you select this option.
When we tested the T8 XC90 in February, we were disappointed with both the fuel economy & with how fast the petrol engine emptied, only achieving 200 miles from a full tank at an average of just 23mpg. However, adding a home/office charger to the equation, a cost of about £200 including vat & government grant, makes a massive difference. To give you an example, There was still full left in the XC6 when I handed it back the XC60 having travelled 350 miles, there was still a quarter tank left. By charging at home, at work or both every day for 2 – 2.5 hours, I was able to utilise the full benefits of this excellent plug-in Volvo hybrid.
Petrol or diesel ? The T8 XC60 is the most expensive XC60 to buy & it’s the best to drive. It’s also as frugal as a diesel version of the XC60, if you can utilise an EV charger. With BIK of just 9% anyone lucky enough to have one as their company car will save a wedge. Would I like one. Too bloody right I would !
Fast, luxurious & money saving. If you can charge it, the T8 is well with considering as your next company car.
What more could you want 4/5.