394bhp Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid detailed

Volvo’s rather lovely new XC90 7-seater SUV will arrive in UK showrooms early next year. At the top of the range will be the ‘Twin Engine’ Volvo XC90 T8. Having been playing its cards close to its chest, Volvo has revealed exactly how the Twin Engine concept works.

The headline numbers are certainly attention grabbing: a total of 394bhp and 295lb/ft of torque, 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds and claimed Co2 emissions of 59g/km. Official fuel consumption will likely be over 100mpg.

So, how does it work? Under the bonnet is a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine producing a not-inconsiderable 314bhp. And mounted on the rear axle is an 80bhp electric motor, hence twin engine. Power goes through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with a lever made from Swedish crystal. Which is nice.

Under normal circumstances, the T8 runs in hybrid mode, switching between the internal combustion engine and the electric motor. The 65kW battery pack is good for 25 miles of range by itself, enough to cover most journeys. With no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles, the batteries live in the centre tunnel, improving interior space and handling. They recharge via plug, or during driving.

Power mode delivers all 394bhp, giving Porsche Cayenne-worrying acceleration. Top speed hasn’t been revealed, but it will likely be somewhere over 140mph.

An innovative feature is ‘save’ mode, which let’s the driver set the battery level, if, for instance, they don’t want to use pure electric mode in traffic on the M4, but do in London.

A neat little extra is the starter generator which, besides from starting the engine, provides a 111lb/ft torque boost when the driver stamps on the throttle.

We will have to wait and see what claims Volvo makes of the XC90 T8, fuel economy wise. Out in the real world, it’s unlikely to get anywhere near, but anything over 50mpg would be impressive for such a big car. More importantly, it determines how the car is taxed. At 59g/km, you won’t have to pay any.

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