New Volvo XC90 will gain plug-in power

11 July 2014

How the new XC90 T8 might look

The next Volvo XC90 is due to be revealed in August, so we don’t yet know what it will look like – the image above is guesswork based on the company’s recent concept cars. However, we do now know that there will be a plug-in hybrid edition.

The outgoing generation of Volvo’s popular large 4x4 first arrived in late 2002, making it more than ready for the knackers yard. In the UK, it is currently sold only with a D5 engine, employing a 5-cylinder, 2.4-litre turbodiesel that serves up 200bhp and 420Nm of torque. The resulting official scores of 34.4mpg and 215g/km of CO2 show there is plenty of room for improvement when the new generation arrives.

2002 Volvo XC90

The top-of-the-range new XC90 will carry a T8 badge on its rump, with the latest version of Volvo’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology slotted beneath its skin.

The hybrid innards are clearly a development of those seen in the current V60 PHEV estate car, although Volvo seems to be ditching the acronyms. It is calling the XC90 plug-in a “Twin Engine” model, rather than a PHEV car.

Volvo XC90 Twin Engine layout

The new label seems reasonable enough, given that the T8 will be a push-me pull-you affair, with separate means of propulsion installed at either end. Under the bonnet, the Twin Engine XC90 will employ a two-litre, four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine, driving the front wheels, while bringing up the rear will be a 60kW (80bhp) electric motor driving the back axle. Either end can propel the car independently, or the two can work in concert for maximum power or greatest efficiency, according to the driving mode selected by the driver. And as a consequence, the T8 will be sometimes a front-drive car, sometimes a rear-drive car, and occasionally a 4x4.

All of which sounds hair-raising but shouldn’t be in reality. The layout is identical in concept to
the V60 plug-in, which feels almost entirely normal to drive, even on slippery surfaces. Lots of safety conscious Swedish brainpower has been expended to ensure that the two ends of the Volvo hybrid system get along nicely with each other, and that safety systems like the electronic stability system can cope with the unusual forces that can be generated.

XC90 driving mode selection via touchscreen

The big difference compared to the V60 hybrid is that the XC90 Twin Engine will pull up at a petrol rather than a diesel pump. The current V60 hybrid employs Volvo’s trusty 2.4-litre five-cylinder diesel engine, which is ready to be put out to pasture. Going forward, Volvo will standardise on four-cylinder engines throughout its range.

The V60 plug-in also relies on a slightly less powerful electric motor, rated at 50kW (70bhp).

Volvo says the XC90 T8 will provide a combined output of around 400bhp and 640Nm of torque, which should give it a very brisk turn of speed and prodigious towing capability. Despite these beefy figures, the company expects to achieve an official CO2 rating of 60g/km, sufficient for free entry into the London Congestion Zone and a £5,000 purchase sweetener via the government’s Plug-in Car Grant. That’s not to suggest that the XC90 T8 will be cheap – far from it. It will no doubt become the company’s most expensive car when it rolls into showrooms.

Volvo XC90 T8 charging socket

A full mains charge will give the T8 a battery powered range of around 25 miles, suggesting that the new car will use a battery of similar size to the 11.2kWh lithium-ion battery used in the V60 hybrid.

There will also be conventional engine options for the upcoming new XC90, of course, in the guise of D5 and D4 diesel engines using Volvo’s fuel-saving Drive-E technologies. The D5 twin-turbo engine will provide 225bhp and 470Nm, with combined-cycle fuel consumption of around 47mpg. The D4 turbocharged diesel will rustle up 190bhp and 400Nm, promising fuel consumption of around 56mpg. The diesel pair will presumably outnumber T8 editions by a huge margin when we start to see XC90s on the road next year.

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