SUVs are the market segment with the largest growth in the past few years. Indeed, every car maker has started to produce SUVs in order to gain or preserve market shares. Even the most prestigious ones like Rolls-Royce or Lamborghini stepped into the game.

SUVs used to be boring and pachydermic to drive with enormous body roll and the agility of a Panda (not the Fiat but the animal even if the agility of both is quite close). Therefore, no petrolhead was really into SUVs. But times change and some makers claim to manufacture SUVs with a berline or even sport handling. GREAT.

At RoadRugCars we need to test drive to make up our minds. That’s why in the next couple of weeks we are going to review a lot of SUVs. During these weeks we will focus on the outsiders.

Hello big boy: Volvo XC60 T8

Let’s be honest when planning to buy a premium SUV everybody thinks about a Porsche Macan, a Audi Q5 or a Mercedes GLE… But, what if we were thinking outside the box? Volvo, Jaguar… That’s the plan for the coming weeks.

For the first summer SUV review we went quite wild. The 407hp dual engine, Volvo XC60 T8.

For pretty much all of us, Volvo used to be a company building safe and durable station wagons. The typical customer? A conscious father teaching history in secondary school that wears tweed jackets. Forget all of these. Volvo is back.

A few years ago, Volvo was a dying company, no one would have looked at one in the street. In 2010, it was bought back by a Chinese group which promised to make it great again. A couple of years later, here we are.

To begin with the XC60 let’s mention that it won, in March, the title of “World car of the year 2018”. Just this…

When we went to pick up the all new mid-size Volvo SUV, expectations were pretty high. It won awards, the specs look awesome and the design is on point. We were really excited to finally put our hands on it to review it properly.

A hybrid Volvo?

What about these awesome specs? It’s the most powerful car ever produced by Volvo and it’s… a hybrid.

Do you think it’s a green car ? Don’t fool yourself, it feels more like a big and powerful SUV for the ones who don’t want to compromise between elegance, comfort and performance.

On the thermic side, there is a 4 cylinders, 2L turbocharged AND supercharged engine delivering 320hp to the front wheels. This engine is assisted by a 87hp electric engine on the rear wheels for a grand total of 407hp. Not bad.

As per the torque, the XC60 presents an astonishing 400Nm thanks to the combined engines.

However, it is a heavy car. I mean, really heavy… It weighs 2,118kg. It better be powerful to make this thing move! The question arising is who should be blamed for this ? It’s safe to say that the battery pack is guilty. In oder to compare, the same car without the electric engine weighs just over 1,850kg. That’s a 250kg difference…

As you understood by now, the real challenge for Volvo is to make this car dynamic.

Full scandinavian style

Monday, smiling like a child on Christmas morning, we picked-it up and our first impression was the quality of the car. Once you step inside you feel at home. It’s very cosy, the leather is stunning and pretty much everywhere. (It’s important to mention that we got the Inscription finition which is the highest one).

However there is some cheap plastic too, the side of the transmission tunnel is a hard and a bit disgraceful plastic. Considering a starting price of 78,000$CAD, we would expect better.

Anyway, sadly it’s the same in every single car. Overall, it is one of the most beautiful interior we’ve seen in a very long time.

The gear selector is a hand cut crystal, the Crystal Eye, that step up the game of the whole cabin. Well done Orrefors Sweden. The wood has a unfinished touch that is just stunning and all the buttons seems high quality and durable.

The touchscreen is quite intuitive even if you need a full half an hour briefing to fully understand all the options and customizations available in the car. The advantage of the screen is that you can control the whole car from it and therefore there are almost no buttons (Ferrari and there cheap sticky buttons should think about that).

After some time getting to know everything in the car and adjusting my seat, it’s time to start the beast. Here again surprise, nothing. As with every hybrid, it starts on the electric engine. No blind test on Instagram for this one. However, it is very pleasant because the car is very well isolated and almost no road noises sneak in.

Driving mode of the XC60 T8

Different experience, it’s all about it. Close the windows, turn-up the music volume and off we go. By the way, the Bowers&Wilkins sound system is mind-blowing. One can easily imagine him/herself going to work and calmly fighting traffic in this kind of special environment.

The first minutes driving felt pretty natural. The handling is light in hybrid mode to make your life easier in the city. Drive smoothly and you’ll be able to stay on the electric only in the city. Press the throttle and the thermic engine kicks in and the car changes its face.

Fine, this XC60 T8 is a good commuting car. +1 for the Volvo. But at this time nothing really makes it different from any premium SUV.

On the backcountry road however it’s not the same car anymore. Select the “power mode” and the car transforms itself. The pneumatic suspensions lower the car quite noticeably, the steering becomes heavier and both engines are working at the same time to enhance your experience. It is fast, it sends you from 0 to 100km/h in 5.3s which is quite impressive for the dimensions of the beast.

The car is sticked to the road and the body roll is hardly noticeable. It swallows the curves with an incredible ease and it even asks for more. Wow, we just forgot its weight.

We do think that the pneumatic suspensions are a real plus for this car as they adapt themselves to your driving style and allows you to have several cars in one.

Is it fun to drive ? The answer is yes.

On the highway the car is a lounge. Quiet, confortable and efficient. In addition, it’s also a good way to charge your electric batteries to obtain more power when you want it or just cruise around the city without rejecting CO2.

I did have two disappointments during my week with this beauty :

  • First an engine light came on after approximately 700kms… After stopping at Volvo Toronto where they dismissed our issue, we went to Volvo Oakville and they told me that it wasn’t serious but I should use it on thermic engine only for the rest of my week (mmmh). It raised a flag in my mind about the reliability of the electronic considering the car was brand new! Unfortunately again, I guess it’s part of the game for every brand. However, I can’t complain, the guys at Volvo Oakville were really nice and I had a taste at what it looks like to have a T6… (with 250kg more).
  • Second, I unfortunately had to give it back to Volvo at the end of the week.

If we had to buy a SUV this one would definitely be an option. Its polyvalence really surprised us and its comportment on the road is really good.

At the end of the day, is there any real competition in the Mid-Size powerful hybrid segment? Not at the time. Porsche, Audi and Mercedes don’t produce Hybrids in this segment.

The overall quality and the driving sensations makes it one of the best SUV on the market. However, I would consider a T6 too which seems a great car with a great engine while lighter and cheaper than the T8.

Want to discover more Volvo? Stay tuned for the big bro XC90 T6 and the baby XC40 R-Design reviews. Still cannot make your mind on the best ? Us neither, that’s why English competitors will be reviewed soon too.

 

#FunToDrive score :   70/100

Why? Because of the hybrid power delivery which makes the car responsive at any rpm thanks to the electric assistance.
What else? The pneumatic suspensions are transforming the car and this is a must to have.

 

It’s now time for you to discover our “Volvo XC60” story at the top of our Instagram profile.

Most importantly keep it #FunToDrive.

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Volvo is back, XC60 T8 the best hybrid on the market?

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