WORLD-FIRST ELECTRIC VOLVO CAN FIT MORE AND STILL KEEP UP WITH LIGHTER MODELS
Volvo New Zealand is heralding a world-first with the arrival of its seven-seater plug-in hybrid. Kiwi buyers are also eager to welcome the EV here.
The all-wheel-drive XC90 T8 twin engine is priced from $156,590 and combines a 2-litre, four cylinder Drive-E engine with an electric motor to produce a combined power of 300kW and 640Nm of torque.
Like other models in the XC90 range, it has an eight-speed automatic transmission plus all-wheel-drive.
But what the plug-in hybrid version gains on the other XC90s is fuel economy figures of 2.1l/100km, plus the optios of going pure electric.
That fuel efficiency, plus off-road capability, and the allure of being able to commute during the week purely on electric, has spurred 18 New Zealanders to buy the XC90 T8 before it has even arrived in showrooms.
The high-voltage Li-Ion battery sits beneath the front console, giving stability to the SUV, and the electric rear axle drive provides a boost of torque and power and helps with brake recuperation.
Volvo says the XC90 T8 twin can run on pure electric mode for 43km, so you could commute to and from work every day using no petrol, and at night plug-in and charge over three hours.
But come the weekend, and you want to get away, you have the 2-litre T8 engine to give you 0-100km/h in 5.6 seconds.
The plug-in hybrid has five driving modes to choose from: the hybrid mode; pure electric; power mode (offering better torque); AWD; and save (which charges the battery by the petrol engine and stored for pure electric drive).
Hybrid is the default setting, which automatically manages the energy stored in the battery and recharges through engine and road braking.
You select the driving mode via a scroll with your options projected on to the XC90’s impressive 9in touchscreen.
I drove the XC90 plug-in in pure mode during my weekday approximately 10km drive from my home to Driven’s inner-city Auckland office, using suburban streets rather than a motorway route.
Heading on to the motorway, I first opted for hybrid mode then decided I wanted to feel the T8 engine so scrolled to power mode. Sure that impacted on the petrol gauge but it was good to see how this model performed, especially as it weighed 2343kg, up 265kg from the standard model.
Like many of the plug-in hybrids now available in New Zealand that Driven has tested, the Volvo offers fuel economy but doesn’t compromise on power.
But during the commute home during my three-day test, I opted for save mode (as I was heading out that evening and wouldn’t have time to charge before I took off).
It was a bonus to see the electric engine symbol on the dash “fill” up during the stop-start traffic.
Like the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, now on sale in New Zealand, and, soon, BMW’s X5 plug-in hybrid, the XC90 is a stylish vehicle inside and out.
What places the XC90 apart from those two premium SUV plug-in hybrids is the third row of seats.
And it’s not only Kiwis who are keen on this Volvo; worldwide the company expects T8 sales to grow to 20 per cent of its XC90 range.