★★★★★ | Volvo XC90, Volvo’s Grand Tourer
What Have We Got?
Here we have Volvo’s very grand-lux, top of the range SUV in hybrid form. A vast car that is pitted against rivals from Audi, Mercedes and Range Rover. No easy task in this company of loyal devotees to try and woo your way. So is the XC90 T8 Inscription any good?
There really isn’t much to shout about here and tell you that you need to drive it a certain way. It behaves in the normal way a car would be it, petrol or hybrid.
Except it doesn’t. You can motor quite well on battery power fed via the 87hp motors fitted to the rear wheels or thunder past people using the 2-litre 303hp petrol engine. And when l say ‘thunder’, I really do mean it. 0-60 is a disrespectful 5.5 seconds! This is a Volvo with green hybrid credentials. Surely this isn’t true. Wrong. It’s very true.
And added to that phenomenal blend of speed and power, comes 21” alloys shod with 275/40 section tyres. Fitted with air ride, you would be forgiven for thinking it had more tyre wall. That’s certainly true for all rides except “dynamic”. This is where the vehicle drops by 20mm and stiffens the ride. It’s not unpleasant, but it certainly detracts from the sumptuousness of what the XC90 Inscription Pro is all about. It’s an area that Volvo is yet to master if I am honest.
One area this does excel in is the automatic gearbox cog selection. It always seemed to be in the right gear and throttle responses were both rapid and direct and that’s what I like.
Interiors have always been a Volvo selling point and that sumptuousness that I just mentioned is found here turned to the max. The Inscription Pro package gives you blond leather and walnut inlays. Add to this, some of the finest door architecture with simple soft white lighting, it lifts the interior regardless of how bad it might be outside.
There is also 7 seats available, but the rear two, though keenly catered for with cubby holes and cup holder, it is a tight squeeze for tall people. And getting in and out is really only for the athletically loose and athletically strong in pushing the middle seat back.
Living With It
I get it, I get what the plug-in hybrid XC90 is all about. I was sceptical about Volvo’s claim of almost 109mpg. In the real world this isn’t really achievable or so I thought. My real work commute is 24 miles. The hybrid battery will carry it for 21 miles. Through the power of maths and the engine that, according to the display, will return 30mpg, I can manage that figure. It works out that a tank of fuel with a recharge and home and work, I won’t see a fuel station for at least 11 weeks. That’s around 5 tanks of petrol over the year.
It won’t quite work that way though. I had to take a journey into Kent with a 104-mile round trip. Along with some other menial work, the XC went back with half a tank of fuel. Now if I’m honest, I have never sent back a press car with so much fuel still in it. So now you can see why I buy into this plug-in hybrid system.
There is a lot to like about the XC90 Inscription T8 and very little to dislike. My only real gripe was a finickity switch for the sunroof/blind. I couldn’t master its ways.
What I could master was the benefits of this twin-engine (as Volvo call it) hybrid. Together with what is now becoming a legendary interior design and a place for well being, I can’t really find much fault and though the asking price for this is up there with its competitors, it is worth EVERY penny.
Economy (for the right people)
Finickity roof blind/sunroof switch
Rearmost seat access
No real hybrid charge on the move
Car – Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD Inscription Pro
Price – £ 79,010 (as tested)
MPG – 108.6mpg (combined) 30.2mpg (on dashboard display)
Power – 303hp (petrol engine) 87hp (electric motor)
0-62mph – 5.8 seconds
Top Speed – 140 mph
Co2 – 63 (g/km)