Volvo kicked off 2019 in style with the addition of a rugged Cross Country version of its fantastic V60 estate. Not content, it is now introducing a near-400bhp plug-in hybrid model – one of three due in the next 12 months.
Called the T8 AWD Twin Engine R-Design, it has the unenviable task of being not only the eco-friendly hybrid, but also the high performance version in the V60 range.
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Volvo is currently working out when it’ll arrive in UK and just how much it’ll cost, but early estimates suggest a spring debut and a price tag of around £50,000. Just like the S60 saloon, which will also arrive later this year, Volvo is expected to add a less potent T6 Twin Engine model and an even racier Polestar Engineered version, too.
But we’ll have to wait to try the Polestar V60, as for the time being this T8 Twin Engine is the most powerful model on offer. Under the bonnet lies one of Volvo’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines, and just like in the S90, V90, XC60 and XC90 T8s, it’s both turbocharged and supercharged. The 299bhp petrol engine powers the front wheels via and eight-speed auto box.
The engine is boosted by a 10.4kWh battery, which sends power to the rear wheels – via an 86bhp electric motor – to make the V60 T8 all-wheel drive. Total power is an impressive 385bhp, while torque stands at 640Nm.
A number of driving modes are available, including Power and Pure. The former uses the petrol engine and electric motor together for peak performance, while the latter ensures the car runs exclusively in electric mode for up to 30 miles. In Power mode the T8 will dash from 0-62mph in an alarming 4.9 seconds.
The T8 coughs out a company car-pleasing 48g/km of CO2, but that 135mpg claimed figure, as always, is highly dependent on driving style and how frequently you hook it up to a charging point. Our test drive in icy Sweden wasn’t the best test, but between 35 and 40mpg should be feasible in normal UK driving conditions when relying on the regenerative brakes.
Twist the starter button and the T8 switches on in electric mode. Squeeze the throttle and the car glides away in electric mode; push even more and the petrol unit wakes up. Leave the V60 in Hybrid mode and the car will constantly switch between the engine and the electric motor, and around town the switch is seamless.
Head out onto the motorway and you’ll more than likely be relying on the engine, and while it isn’t the nicest sounding motor, performance is strong. Switch to Power mode and acceleration is mightily impressive, but despite the turbo, supercharger and electric motor working together it never feels as fast as the figures suggest.
Our car was in R-Design trim and the sporty body styling gives the already handsome V60 an extra dose of presence. R-Design also adds a set of 18-inch diamond cut alloys, part-leather sports seats, gearshift paddles and lowered suspension.
There’s a very noticeable stiffness to the way the R-Design rides over bumps compared with standard V60s, but it’s not crashy and nowhere near as stiff as an Audi A4 S line. But, despite this being the sporty model, the steering remains remote and the T8 feels a bit agitated when driven quickly.
The cabin is the V60’s real trump card, as the quality of materials, the design and the comfortable seats give the Swede a unique appeal compared to its German rivals. The T8 gets an Orrefors crystal gearknob, but that’s the only unnecessary bling in an otherwise sophisticated and classy interior.
Thanks to the electric motor being positioned in the centre of the car, the T8 has the same boot room as the regular V60, too.