Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid Review
Car Tested: Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid Excellence; Road Test No. 1121; Test Location: Mumbai
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1,60,17,437/-
With a hybrid powertrain and one of the most comfortable interiors, the Volvo XC90 is the perfect chauffeur-driven SUV
Volvo's flagship SUV, the XC90, showcases a repertoire of abilities. Spacious, practical, luxurious, brilliantly engineered and extremely safe, the XC90 is one of those no non-sense SUVs that does what it promises very well. This is a crowded segment but the XC90 has always attracted a decent audience. But it had that image of being slightly over-practical and boring. Most of that perception went away with the new generation model which had serious tech and cool looks. But Volvo wasn't satisfied. With growing competition in the ultra-luxury segment with cars like Range Rover and even the Bentley Bentayaga, Volvo decided to launch the 'Excellence' variant. This variant promises over-the-top luxury experience in the backseat and a cutting edge T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain. Can this Swedish take on luxury make the XC90 the car of choice for the prospective buyers? We drive and be driven in to find out.
Motor Quest: Volvo is a brand that has long had a reputation of making boxy, practical, comfortable and safe automobiles. The first-gen XC90, launched in 2002, was based on these very values. The model lasted for an impressive 12 years before receiving a complete makeover. The longstanding presence of a single generation is a testimony of the car's immense popularity. With so many rivals coming in that period, the XC90 stood its ground very well. The second generation was unveiled in 2015 with great strides taken in exterior, interior and performance departments. This model was a runaway success for Volvo and found a lot of takers in India too. The XC90 also served as a pioneer for a host of new, more tech-savvy Volvos which have changed the brand's perception considerably.
Exteriors - The XC90 has a traditional SUV silhouette. But the boxy design does not translate into boring. The SUV looks quite cool with sharp headlights and tastefully done tail light design. In fact, the fuss-free design makes the XC90 look really classy and the plain exterior may actually make it stand out in a parking lot full of SUVs trying to look sporty.
XC90's understated and minimalist design gives it a classy & elegant look
The Excellence trim adds a more elegant alloy wheel design, more chrome along the side and of course, the T8 badging. Yes, you may have expected more changes but subtlety seems to be the Volvo way. No doubt, the design lacks the sheer glamour of the Range Rover but there are many people who prefer it this way.
Interiors - The XC90 Excellence's cabin is as inviting as ever. The interiors feel rich and very well put together. Quality all round is fantastic and there is a lot to like about how minimalistic the dash is. The large infotainment screen controls most of the car's stuff and it is a great unit. However, we wish Volvo had provided more physical buttons. This touch-screen dependent layout makes you take your eyes off the road frequently.
The large vertical touch-screen infotainment screen takes centre stage, replacing most of the physical buttons
The change on this variant is the Orrefors glass gear lever that looks truly special and very exquisite, especially when lit up. Other controls on the console like the starter switch and the knurled controller for the drive modes look and feel quite upmarket. We are huge fans of the 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system which sounds nothing short of amazing. You can even match the audio settings to match that of the Gothenberg concert hall in Sweden. How cool is that!
The front seats offer fantastic support with great legroom and headroom. But the Excellence's party trick lies in the back seat. Gone is the three-row layout replaced by the opulent looking twin chairs with generous use of wood in between. The individual seats are one of the best we have experienced in an SUV offering unrivalled levels of support and comfort. Space is immense and so is the equipment on offer.
The XC90 has one of the best rear seat experiences in the car industry
The seats are electrically adjustable, heated, cooled and have a massaging function. There is a pop-up display that controls the positioning of the passenger seat and various functions of the rear seats. The highlight, however, are the gorgeous Orrefors champagne flutes. They are baseless for they fit well in the cupholder and buy one individually, it can cost up to $300. They look expensive and form a part of the decor when the ambient lighting is turned on. You also have a massive refrigerator for your drinks. The conspicuous looking glass partition between the boot and the rear seats is done to eliminate any road noise. It may look a bit strange at first but adds up to the luxury quotient of the car.
Overall, the interiors of the Excellence feel a step up from the regular XC90 and deliver the luxury experience that no other SUV at this price point can. We are more than pleased.
Performance - The Volvo XC90 petrol only comes in hybrid guise and the Swedish automaker calls it 'Twin Engine' and rightfully so. The 2.0-litre petrol motor outputs 320 HP and 400 Nm of torque, it's both supercharged and turbocharged, thereby having no lag throughout the rev range. The supercharger helps combat low-end lag while the turbo kicks in and ensures a great mid- and top-range punch. The gasoline mill is assisted by an 87 HP electric motor that produces 240 Nm, thereby taking the combined output to a stupendous 400 HP and 640 Nm, resulting in a 0-100 km/hr time of just 5.9 seconds.
To eliminate lag, Volvo has added a turbocharger, a supercharger and even an electric motor to the XC90
The petrol engine powers the front wheels, the electric motor powers the rear wheels and they aren't connected by a prop shaft, thereby leaving space for Volvo engineers to put the lithium-ion battery in between. The car has 6 drive modes and there is a pure electric mode too but it can only be driven for 40 kms, that too at low speeds as any prod on the big pedal results in the engine kicking in. At low speeds, when the engine isn't powering the car, it's extremely silent and when the petrol engine powers up, it's silent, there is good refinement lower down with the T8 screaming once past the mid-range, redlining at 6500 RPM.
The 9.2 kWh electric motor has to be charged using a cable which takes 2.5 hours and the engine can also charge the battery a bit, there is regenerative braking too. The XC90 uses an 8-speed gearbox which although quick with shifts, there is no way to take manual control of the gears as there are no paddle shifters on offer, nor is there a Tiptronic function on the gear lever. The fuel economy hovers between 8-12 km/l, being better if you frequently charge the battery, however, the fuel tank capacity is low at just 50-litres.
Driving Dynamics - Underpinned by the SPA platform, the Volvo XC90 has been developed with electrification in mind so weight distribution is great in spite of the batteries. That said, it's still a heavy car and weighs 2400 kgs but the same can't be felt. The Volvo XC90 has a brilliant ride, the suspension is soft and cushy with the air suspension doing a great job of ironing out the worst of roads, only sharp bumps can be felt, that too only the wheel which goes through it, not all across the vehicle. Ground clearance is ample and can be varied between 227 - 267 mm due to the air suspension.
Thanks to air suspension and AWD, ride quality is fantastic and the XC90 has impressive high speed stability
There is some amount of body roll because of the weight, height and the ground clearance but grip levels are stellar due to the 4-wheel drive system and wide tyres. The steering is light at low speeds and weighs up well at high speeds, the car remaining glued to the road on the highways. There are plenty of safety features including radar-based ones which ensure a safe drive like collision assist, city safety, autonomous braking, all of which can warn and apply brakes if it senses you nearing another vehicle, there is lane keep assist too which pulls the steering into the lane. The brakes offer good stopping power but one has to apply more pressure on the pedal for faster stops.
Safety - The XC90 is probably the safest full-sized SUV in the world. It has consistently scored highest ratings in all the crash tests it has been put through. Along with the radar-based features we mentioned earlier, the XC90 is complete with 7 airbags and seats which have a mechanism that protects your spine in case you run-off-road and there is a massive underbody impact. The XC90 feels incredibly solid and well built assuring you of Volvo's safety commitment.
Verdict - The XC90 Excellence goes up against established rivals. You have the Range Rover as the Excellence's key competitor and even SUVs like the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLS and the BMW X7. At Rs. 1.6 crores, the Excellence trim is still much cheaper than the starting price of a Range Rover, and for the money, it gives you an advanced powertrain, interiors that feel like a spa, very comfortable back-seat experience and the peace of mind of Volvo's exhaustive safety kit. If you want a 7-seater XC90 with the same powertrain, Volvo has recently launched the T8 trim in the Inscription variant as well. Sure it lacks a shiny badge but look beyond that and you'll find a seriously compelling chauffeur driven car.
* Sophisticated and polished looks
* Feature-loaded and luxurious interior
* Comfortable seats with acres of space
* Advanced and refined powertrain
* Brilliant ride quality and comes loaded with safety tech
What's Not So Cool
* Fuel tank capacity could've been higher
* Long term reliability could be an issue
* Boot has limited space with the spare tyre in place
Alternatives: - Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz GLS, BMW X7, Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, Porsche Cayenne, Lexus RX
Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid Specifications
* Engine: 1969cc, 4-Cyl, Petrol, 9.2 kWh Electric Motor
* Power: 320 HP (Petrol Engine), 87 HP (Electric Motor)
* Torque: 400 Nm (Petrol Engine), 240 Nm (Electric Motor)
* Transmission: 8-Speed AT
* 0-100 km/hr: 5.9 seconds
* Fuel Consumption: 8-12 km/l
* Fuel Type: Petrol
* Tyre Size: 275/40/21 (Front & Rear)
* Suspension: Air Suspension (Front & Rear)
* Brakes: Disc (Front & Rear)
* Safety: 7 Airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP
Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid Dimensions
* Overall length x width x height: 4950 mm X 2140 mm X 1776 mm
* Wheelbase: 2984 mm
* Turning Radius: 6.1-metres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 50-litres
* Kerb Weight: 2400 kgs
Further Reading -
Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid
Volvo XC90 T8 Hybrid Review
The Volvo XC90 is a very luxurious and comfortable SUV and while its diesel variant is available in a 7-seater configuration, we now have the hybrid Excellence variant which is not only greener but also far more luxurious offering a very exclusive appeal. The XC90 T8 Excellence can be a great choice for people who want a comfy SUV but don’t need the 7 seats, because this car has a ton of creature comforts.