By: Mpho Mahlangu
With Volvo aiming to offer a 100% electric vehicle (EV) line-up by the year 2030, the XC90 T8 Recharge proves to be an ideal stepping-stone into the world of full electrification, especially for South Africans.
Labelled the most powerful Volvo ever, the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge combines an internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric motor. We recently spent time with the premium family-hauling SUV.
Sitting at the top of the local line-up, the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge employs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine paired with a 107kW electric motor on the rear axle. The former produces 233kW, resulting in a combined total system output of 340kW and 709Nm of torque. Power is equally sent to all four wheels, with smooth shifts taken care of by an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge also makes use of a bigger 18.8kWh battery, which has been increased from the previously used 11.6kWh battery. This results in a claimed pure-electric driving range of up to 77km on a full charge. I however saw a more realistic figure of up to 50km during testing, which is quite a bit far off from the manufacturer claim.
Noteworthy however, fuel consumption figures are quite commendable thanks to the electrified powerplant, with the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge returning figures of around the 8 L/100km mark in day-to-day driving.
Bringing the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge to life by default starts it up in its electric driving mode, which may be beneficial for early mornings. Tootling around in suburbia in the electric driving mode is a joy. There is an unexplainable pleasing feeling of piloting the family-hauling SUV without any engine noise emitted. Of course, I found myself often giggling whenever I’d pass bystanders who’d be left scratching their heads in confusion as to why or how there was no engine noise coming from the striking SUV.
Boasting electrification of course means that overtaking in any situation is rather effortless with the vehicle in its electric mode. The instant torque, always readily available, results in manoeuvres which hardly require careful planning.
With the turbocharged engine brought to life, the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge still offers a refined and comforting experience. The eight-speed automatic transmission goes about its duties with relevant ease.
Boasting superb refinement and low noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels, the loudest noises that one hears in this vehicle are of the climate control system and at times, harsher than usual road imperfections. Speaking of which, the active air suspension fitted to the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge performs its duties with aplomb. Most road imperfections are ironed out quite well, with only the harshest experienced and felt in the cabin.
The cabin itself is a pleasant place to be sat in, with one immediately realizing how fine the Nappa leather seats are. Comfort, adjustability and support by the pews are all impressive.
Noteworthy in the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge is just how well refined and premium the cabin is. Most of the touchpoints are of a high quality, and the overall fit and finish is second to none too. A unique feature found in the cabin which I quite liked is the crystal gear shifter hand crafted by Swedish glass maker, Orrefors.
Taking centre stage in the cabin of the XC90 T8 Recharge is a portrait-style infotainment touchscreen with embedded Google services. Complimenting the infotainment touchscreen is a powerful 19-speaker 1,410W Bowers & Wilkins audio system which is perhaps amongst one of the best-quality audio systems I have experienced in a vehicle.
With their eyes set on a fully electric vehicle line-up by 2030, Volvo is certainly headed in the right direction with the XC90 T8 Recharge.
For South Africans, it provides the perfect bridge to full electrification, as vehicle manufacturers work hard to improve charging infrastructure.
With an asking price of R1,808,000, the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge Ultimate Dark is quite competitively priced and makes for a strong case for itself when considering its rivals