I will try my best to provide detailed info on various cars and what is like to live with them, I have already produced a few for Jaguar-car-forums, I will do my best to be unbiased, but it will be hard for some cars. I will re-produce press releases and copy from other motoring news.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

TMW - The Volvo XC90 T8, the range topping hybrid that wipes the floor with everything else in it's class.

Under Ford Volvo had a strange and trying time, with models coming infrequently and based on other Ford branded products, then we had the downturn and Ford panicked, they cleared out all but Lincoln, and Volvo was sold to Geely of China.
It was then that people started to worry, what would become of the Swedish giant, would it be watered down, and if so, by what margin, but those fears were unfounded, Geely seems to have left the bosses in Sweden alone with the know how to build world beating cars, and the first of those cars that came from that confidence was the XC90 SUV.

The existing XC90 was getting rather long in the tooth, and was at one stage the companies best selling model, but no longer, the new car was needed and swiftly, it was then the concepts appeared and then the All-New XC90 was launched, and what a car that is.
The model tested here is the T8, the Twin Engined model which is a plug in hybrid, unusual in such a large SUV, but works really well, the T8 has followed the D5 and T6 models, both of which are superior to the car it replaces, the T8 comes with a 2.0 litre engine, and comes with a Supercharger for low-rev response and a turbocharger for higher revs, this powers the front wheels of the car via a seamless and super smooth 8 speed automatic gearbox.
The second engine is situated at the rear of the car, sitting nicely between the sub frames, this electric motor generates around 80bhp and obviously drives the rear wheels, this motor is powered by a battery which is stored within the transmission tunnel, this is an ideal area, as there is no prop shaft so space is available for these batteries, the weight also gives a lower centre of gravity, again helping to create a near perfect off-roader.
The way in which this car is propelled is via different methods and is very flexible in the way it does this, you can have full on electric mode, where you can get upwards of 25 miles of range, half and half or full power, or even a specific 4WD mode which is best for driving, well, off road, or just allow the car to chose, which is most probably where the majority of owners will put it.
Now you would think that, that's it, but no, there is a third engine which generates 25bhp and is specifically designed to iron out the changes between different drive methods and to top up and gaps in the torque range. 
The car is big, there is no getting away from that, but once you are sat behind the wheel it really does not feel that large, in fact you can push it and whip it about like a medium sports car, the grip is great, and cornering is one of the best for this size of SUV, you get the added benefit of not really being beaten about the ears with engine noise, road noise is a little wearing on really rough roads, and on pot holes and sleeping policemen, you do hear the thud, but it is not intrusive enough to make the driver regret buying it, far from it.

Breaking is OK, not the best at stopping, but you would not expect it to stop on a penny for a car of this weight and size, it does everything right, stops when you need it too, and without any issues, no rear end wobble at high speed braking, but you do occasionally feel the difference between normal braking and regenerative braking, but again not noticeable enough to be intrusive.

The car shines when you look at the numbers and they are very impressive, 49g/km is really impressive, combine that to 134.5mpg and you have a car that not only does everything you could ever ask of it, but it is friendly to the environment too, and in these times of diesel scandals and smog infested cities, this car can help eliminate some of this.

Top speed is 140mph, so no slouch, and with the eight speed auto, overtaking is child's play, but you are never far from being aware that this is a large beast, and one that does everything right.

Spending time inside the car and you will soon feel at home, it takes little time to get comfortable, and once you have  everything in the right place, driving the car is a pleasure, the very light and airy cabin is a really nice place to be in, it has a zen like feel to the interior. you sit low down, or that's how it seems, with a built up central area, you feel like you are in a jet fighter.

There are very few buttons to play with, and that's a nice change from some of the competition, that has upwards of 30+ button and switches to play with, the vast majority of the car is run entirely through the touchscreen system, and believe me, it really is simple to use, with one of the simplest, perfectly designed touchscreen systems there is, you can even pinch the screen of stretch it out with your fingers, just like an iPad.

Whether you use the third row of seats is up to you, but they are quite opulent for a third row, and can take people, albeit, smaller than your average adult, with sublime comfort and room to spare, the entire interior is luxurious, even in the lower spec models, you feel like you are in something far more expensive, a Bentayga comes to mind.

The T8 is not cheap, at around £65k plus options but for that you get probably the best SUV out there, even ranking above the Daddy, the Range Rover, and for Volvo, this model is just the start, we already have the new S90 and V90 ready for the public, the V40 has been face lifted and concepts for the S40, V40 and XC40 have been launched, and from what i have been told (on the quiet) these cars will appear not to dissimilar to the concepts, if true, then Volvo will have even more massive hits on their hands.

There is only one question, would I own one.

To damned right I would, this is as near to perfect as they come.

TMW - Jon Mower