Review: All-New 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV – The Sum Of All Things Premium

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Review: All-New 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV – The Sum Of All Things Premium

The first generation Volvo XC60 was a highly successful product for the company, with nearly a million units sold globally. Since being available for sale in May last year in Europe and followed by the rest of the world, the all-new XC60 has won numerous global awards, such as World Car of the Year 2018, North American Utility (Car) of the Year as well as the Japan Car of the Year 2017/2018.

The all-new XC60 also took top honours as the best performer in the Euro NCAP 2017 safety awards.

All this great acknowledgement and accolades are also verified by strong customer confidence as this model was one of the top sales contributor to Volvo Car strong total global sales of over 571,000 units in 2017.

Built on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, our time in the larger XC90 has left us with a very positive experience. We too have high expectations on how premium and special the all-new Volvo XC60 will feel compared to its rivals. 

Specifications

Variant tested: XC60 T8 Twin Engine (Plug-in Hybrid) Inscription Plus (CBU)

  • Engine: 2.0-litre Twincharged (turbocharged and supercharged), transverse
  • Engine power: 320 hp, 400 Nm
  • Motor output: 87 hp, 240 Nm
  • Combined system output: 407 hp, 640 Nm
  • Traction battery: 10.4kWh, Lithium-ion
  • Transmission: Front- 8-speed torque converter automatic, Rear- Electric Rear Axle Drive
  • Safety: Adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assistant, lane keeping aid, blind spot monitoring with steering aid, autonomous emergency braking, oncoming lane mitigation, 6 airbags, ESP, 360-degree surround view camera
  • Price : CBU- RM373,888 (on-the-road without insurance with 6% GST)
               CKD- RM324,463.83 (on-the-road without insurance with 0% GST) 
  • Origin (Current stocks): Locally-assembled in Shah Alam, Selangor

Overview

The mid-size segment today is crowded with nearly all premium manufacturers having a representation. The XC60 competes with other similarly-sized SUVs such as Mercedes-Benz GLC, BMW X3, Audi Q5, Lexus NX, and Land Rover Discovery Sport. Jaguar and Range Rover meanwhile have their F-Pace and Velar models respectively.

The flagship variant that is being reviewed here is the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid variant and as of now, there are no competitors that offer a plug-in variant. Lexus with its NX300h model is a self-charging hybrid and its performance is quite far off the XC60 T8.

Volvo Malaysia launched the all-new XC60 in January 2018 and as of today, only the CKD variants with zero-rated GST prices are available at the time of writing:

  • XC60 T8 Twin Engine Inscription Plus - RM324,463.83
  • XC60 T8 Twin Engine Inscription - RM315,029.86
  • XC60 T5 - RM282,011.00

The shipment of XC60 models that are imported (approximately 100 units) have all been snapped up during the dealers’ pre-launch events. Volvo Malaysia has since started delivery of the CKD units in April 2018.

In the CBU XC60 T8 Inscription, the suspension system features active air suspension with a rear height switch for loading, while the CKD version uses regular steel springs.

Exterior

The all-new XC60 is 61 mm longer, 108 mm wider, and 55 mm lower. The wheelbase, on the other hand, has increased by 91 mm.

The sculpted long front bonnet seamlessly connects the large Inscription grille and LED head lamps that feature the signature T-shaped ‘Thor’s hammer’ daytime running light (DRL).

The simple yet complex curves and lines on the bonnet feature curvatures that are consistently repeated on specific details of the XC60, such as the curvature on the T-shaped DRLs and corner of the front bumper.     

Design details exampled above certainly emanate premium quality and craftsmanship.

Viewed from behind, the new XC60 now exerts a more powerful, sporty stance with the horizontal stretch of the LED tail lamp.

The upward kink on the base of the rear side window, seen on the first generation XC60, has been maintained and contributes to a muscular shoulder that emphasizes the rear wheels.

Interior

The interior design of the new XC60 is instantly familiar. Similar to the styling direction in the XC90, the XC60’s instrument panel only has physical switches for front and rear demisters, hazard lights and audio controls.

The Sensus control screen, which is a large 9-inch touchscreen in portrait format, is the command centre for all features in the vehicle is placed above the row of physical switches. 

The dashboard of the new Volvo XC60 is the finest at this price point and even compared to a segment above. The handcrafted Driftwood inlay which stretches nearly the entire width of the dashboard creates an impression that it is resting atop a large piece of Scandinavian wood, rather than being a decorative trim.

I was sceptical about the Sensus Connect interface. With every feature control (apart from the lights) placed inside the 9-inch screen, adjusting the air conditioning and other IntelliSafe feature might take up more concentration than physical buttons.

After getting used to the placement and layout of the Sensus interface, I can happily report that it is just as simple as any other touchscreen interface.

With the screen having infrared sensors, one does not need to physically press the screen for the desired operation. Placing your fingers close to the icon, for example, air conditioning temperature adjustment or saving the hybrid battery level will enter the input without actually touching the screen. Fewer fingerprints this way too!   

Comfort & Refinement

This is where the XC60 T8 really shines. Refinement is top-notch, with a near-perfect execution of the twin engine system. Both propulsion systems work seamlessly, and in low-speed city driving, the combustion engine is forgotten since there is hardly any noise or vibration emitted. Yes, it is that refined.

As the Volvo has no pretentious sporting intentions unlike its key rivals, the seats are thankfully left to a design that is the most comfortable, most accommodating. One could continue driving for three hours and not feel tired nor sore upon reaching the destination. Hallmarks of a premium automobile I must say.

A quick mention of the premium surround sound by Bowers & Wilkins that only comes with the Inscription Plus variant: with the audio system taking one of the top priorities in the electrical architecture of Volvo vehicles, this 15-speaker setup is truly a masterpiece.

An interview or talk show in the recording studio sounds as if they are speaking in front of you, on top of the bonnet. Users can further personalize the audio profile and even envelopment. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is also a standard feature, making full use of the Sensus screen.

The sound insulation and the low noise emitting from the refined T8 twin engine hybrid drivetrain further elevates the refinement that is class-leading. The Michelin Latitude Sport 3 tyres are also specially made for the XC60, with better insulation to reduce sounds transmission into the cabin.

Driving Experience

A standard feature in the T8 variants is the Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving assist system. In slow moving and traffic jam conditions, the Adaptive Cruise Control in XC60 T8 will adjust brake and throttle to keep up with traffic, reducing the burden on the right feet.

On the highway, the lane keeping aid centres the XC60 T8, always parallel to the lanes markers. This sounds as though you can leave the hands off the steering wheel!

Not quite. The Pilot Assist actually measures steering input continuously. If the system does not sense any human input for over 10 seconds continuously, the system automatically turns off Pilot Assist and all throttle and steering control is returned to the driver.

All these advanced driving assist systems make driving truly more relaxing. One does not have to keep shuffling the right foot between the brake and throttle pedal during traffic jams, and on highways, your arms are less strained as the XC60 T8 keeps itself centred in the lane on its own.

Compared to other plug-in hybrid models, the Volvo’s twin engine system is by far the most superior in all aspects. With electric driving (EV) mode, there is surprisingly a good dose of thrust coming from the 87 hp electric motor located in the rear axle. 

With 640 Nm and 407 hp of combined system output, the XC60 T8 is mega quick.  There is no need to doubt the 0-100km/h acceleration time of 5.3 seconds, it is really that fast. But, being inside such a relaxing cabin atmosphere, the outright pace of acceleration is secondary.

How Economical is it?

To achieve the claimed 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres fuel consumption, one would need to be always charging the 10.4 kWh battery as a fully-charged battery is rated to provide up to 45 kilometres of range. Edit. The hybrid battery warranty is 5 years or 120,000 km mileage, similar to the vehicle's standard warranty. 

During our test drive that covered almost 450 kilometres of mixed driving conditions and two instances of charging the battery up to 80% charge, we are happy to report that the XC60 returned a relatively good 8.3 litres per 100 kilometres.

This also includes two or three occasions of forced-charging of the hybrid battery, as I wanted to have some battery charge left to complete my drive through the residential area in pure electric.

Using the provided 3-pin domestic home charger, it takes approximately 4 to 5 hours to fully charge (dependent on the charger’s amperage setting). A side note, even with the battery at 80% charge, the estimated range is only 22 kilometres as compared to a theoretical 36 kilometres.   

Conclusion

Features that can be felt, seen and, touched certainly adds a touch of premium-ness in the vehicle. Having all the systems combine together and work flawlessly is the challenging task and the Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine certainly executed it very well.

The exterior has well-defined lines that all matches other sections very well, while the interior is just a place to be with such well-crafted dashboard, seats and insulation. The advanced driving assist systems meanwhile reduce the physical stress and strain of driving.

What about the shortcomings? Perhaps adding more features for the rear occupants, as currently there is no rear-zone air conditioning control and improving the display meter’s content/personalization, such as enlarging the Pilot Assist display.

The Volvo XC60 T8 is truly a premium product in all aspects.

Note: The information on the hybrid battery warranty coverage has been corrected.

Learn more about the all-new Volvo XC60:

Gallery: Review: All-New 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV – The Sum Of All Things Premium



Siew Weng

Siew Weng

Weng loves the technical bits of the automobile, and even more fascinated on the reasons the designer created the crease or fold, as well as innovative use of existing systems to execute new features. Prior to being in the content creation field, Weng was part of the product life cycle management team for a few automotive brands.


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