It certainly is a strange time we find ourselves in, but that doesn’t mean we cannot get creative and still learn about the fantastic cars on the market. I asked Volvo Car South Africa’s Managing Director, Greg Maruszewski, to review his Volvo XC90 T8 Plug-in Hybrid R-Design.
The XC90, which was introduced in 2015 and is arguably the most awarded car ever with over 140 major awards globally (including South African Car of the Year 2016) and which was refreshed last year, competes in the premium SUV segment with the likes of BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Mercedes-Benz GLE. It is available with six or seven seats and offers luxury in all departments. The model I drive is particularly special because it has two engines (petrol in the front and electric in the rear) and it is the sportier R-Design specification level.
Thanks to the fact that it has two engines, the all-wheel drive XC90 T8 is capable of limited zero-emissions travel. This is due to the fact that one of the engines is an electric motor fed by a 11.6 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which generates 65 kW and 240 Nm. It is paired to the award-winning 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo- and supercharged Volvo Drive-E petrol engine, which provides 235 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque via Volvo’s eight-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox. This allows for either a very frugal 2.1 L / 100 km fuel consumption (obviously with limited mileage). At the other extreme you can propel the car from standstill to 100km/h in a very respectable 5.6 seconds. Add the Polestar engine upgrade and it will shave 0.1sec off that acceleration to give you an additional 30 Nm (total 670Nm).
In its latest guise, the Volvo XC90 boasts new wheels, new exterior colours and a modern new grille (with glossy black mesh in the case of the R-Design) and comes standard with Volvo on Call functionality. My car is the Bursting Blue Metallic colour, and it also has 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, black door mirrors and tinted rear windows. The interior highlights include charcoal coloured leather-clad sports seats, a perforated leather-trimmed steering wheel complete with gearshift paddles and sports pedals. My personal favourite options are the heated steering wheel (makes me smile every morning in winter) as well as the Bowers and Wilkens sound system; the sound is absolutely phenomenal.
So, this is the car that I drive currently, and I really enjoy it for a number of reasons. Firstly it’s very good looking on the outside and offers a premium experience on the inside with the well-designed stylish interior. It has a number of cool features like pilot assist (steering assistance to keep within a lane) and adaptive cruise control (adjusts speed to the car in front or the set maximum). This all helps to make the drive more relaxing especially on longer drives. Acceleration is fantastic – for such a big car to go from stand still to 100 in 5,5 seconds is remarkable, and makes it so much fun to drive.
The XC90 range starts at R1 064 200, and the T8 starts at R1 313 500, which offers excellent value versus its competitors given the already high level of standard features available in the cars.