Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design Plus | The Versatile Rapid Tourer
Everyone is going hybrid these days and Volvo are no exception to this. The Swedes have been looking at ways of propulsion and with the help of sister company, Polestar, there is pretty much a T8 twin-engined model in every sector Volvo have entered. We look at the V for versatile V90 estate with the T8 setup.
Let’s get my issue out of the way first. This model is Volvo’s largest of the ground-hugging saloon and estate cars and comes in R-Design. For a Luxo-barge, I had my reservations of the R-Design. It’s not a bad model in the range, but does this ‘sporty’ model get ruined by being made to feel dynamic for reasons that we Brits like it and more importantly, will I like it?
The V90 comes with just 5 power sources across the range and the T8, with its 87hp electric motors powering the rear wheels is the most powerful out of them all. It’s available across the range except in the Cross-Country models. Those use a full 4WD system for obvious reasons.
The petrol unit powering the T8 is a 303hp petrol 4 cylinder. Combined with motor assistance on the rear wheels it will project the Volvo estate from 0-60 in just 5.0 seconds. In practice, it feels a touch more lethargic than that though this can perhaps be attributed to the beautiful way the car can glide away from a standstill without much noise at all. The electric motors go some way to eliminate the throttle lag of the petrol engine. It’s still a little hesitant but just enough to be worthy of a mention.
And 5.3 seconds 0-60mph isn’t to be scoffed at. Until recently it was the time set by the superstars like Lamborghini. Imagine the fun of being able to blow away a Countach with your 1,526-litre load-lugger with more space than a double bed in the rear. Admittedly you wouldn’t. You’d want to hear the sound of that Lamborghini V12 pull away.
And here is the key to the V90 T8. Serenity. So perhaps it might come as a surprise that even in R-Design, the UK’s market leader in the range with dynamic feel, has this ability in almost any drive mode you select to isolate you from the harshness of what a 15mm lowered suspension set up could bring. From a spec sheet at least, it all seems superficial except for the said lowered sports suspension and 18-inch alloy rims.
Inside is typical Scandinavian elegance. Ergonomic cockpit set up for driving pleasure and ease of use. The infotainment system allows for multiple changes and adaptions to suit you the driver and not the R&D departments preferences. And this allows you to set the car up to become more of how you want it and it’s A) surprising how specific we all are when given the chance and B) why more don’t offer this. This is your car after all. There ends up being very little to annoy and dare I say it, as a motoring journalist, not much to say any more about the insides of Volvo’s.
Driving is a pleasure and getting the best from the twin-engined set up is ease itself. The use of “twin-engine” is perhaps a little misleading when there is in-fact only one engine up front and two small electric motors at the back. By this calculation alone it should then perhaps be called a tri-engine. Anyway, I digress because the art of the system is beautiful.
Now 21 miles on the battery might not seem much distance at all but it’s more than you think. A drive home from visiting my father in Bognor saw me empty the battery packs by the time I arrived in Storrington. That was 22.1 miles of non-sympathetic motoring. The V90 T8 had the ability to carry itself quite rapidly at legal speeds on battery power down the A27. Not necessarily designed for rapid motoring over a distance like this, the batteries side of things did very well. And it’s this ability to have full use of the electric motors that makes it such an easy system to use. I do however struggle with its lack of ability to charge the batteries adequately when on the move unless you select it too. It’s sort of self-charging but by-passes the ability to use the hybrid system.
That said, I did calculate my fuel economy with the XC90 T8 being most favourable. With my daily commute now being just under 10 miles each way with the return drive home mostly being downhill (I’m not making that up), I could go for years without actually using petrol. But that really is exceptional usage.
The Volvo V90 T8 is quite the Q-car then in terms of looks over function over ability. It carries stuff, lots of stuff. Cossets occupants in tranquillity and yet is as far removed from what you’d expect a Volvo estate to behave like. Forget the mind-blowing 850 T5R from the 90’s and their wake up call to the world as to what Volvo could do. That’s power dressed and old news. The V90 T8 is the future. For the moment at least.
Ease of use of the hybrid system
Unable to self charge adequately unless selected
Aggressive pilot assist
Some throttle lag from standstill
Car – Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design Plus
Price – £ 67,500 (as tested)
MPG – 97.4 – 117.7 mpg (WLTP combined)
Power – 317hp (petrol) + 87hp (electric)
0-62mph – 5.0 seconds
Top Speed – 115 mph
Co2 – 49 (g/km)