There are two things that probably come to your mind when you think of Volvo. One is the fact that they’re a Swedish luxury automaker and that they’ve pioneered most of the automotive safety features we know today. However, with its newest products, Volvo wants you to know that they’re also focused on electrification. Case in point, this 2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Inscription PHEV.
At least in the Philippine market, Volvo is currently the only premium car manufacturer to offer an advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain. However, unlike most hybrid powertrains that focus solely on fuel economy, Volvo’s approach to electrification is for added performance. With the power of a petrol V8 and the fuel economy of a four-cylinder diesel engine, the Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine PHEV probably offers the best value among luxury compact crossovers.
Many luxury marques often look towards the Germans for inspiration, but Volvo has found its design stride by offering something that’s authentic to their Swedish roots. Its clean-cut approach has given us a compact crossover with timeless lines and taut surfaces. Up front, the now-iconic “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlamps blend nicely with the upright grille that proudly displays the Volvo badge. Without making it look too much like the larger XC90, Volvo has given this XC60 a slightly sleeker silhouette through the use of a steeper rear fascia and windshield angle. Because this is the Inscription model, the XC60 focuses more on tasteful luxury rather than sportiness.
That air of luxury and sophistication continues inside the XC60. Whichever variant you choose, its interior design is simple, straightforward, and well crafted. All models get leather seats as standard along with plenty of aluminum trims, but opting for the Inscription package adds open-pore wood and more leather surfaces. Buyers can even opt for the optional Orrefors crystal electronic gear shifter fitted to our XC60 test vehicle. While it does look lovely indeed, it makes gear changes more finicky. Double-tapping to go from P to D is way too complex than it needs to be.
Interactions with the vehicle are made through the Sensus infotainment system. It’s a large 9-inch portrait touch screen that responds promptly to your swipes and taps. While the interface is user friendly enough, I still wish for hard buttons for stuff like the climate control. Digging through menus just to change the HVAC settings is always gonna be a hassle. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
Volvos are known for the supremely comfortable seats, and the XC60 is no exception. Front occupants have an almost infinite amount of adjustment for the seats to suit a host of body types. The rear seats don’t have the same degree of adjustments as the front, but they’re still extremely comfortable on long journeys. Plus, the large panoramic sunroof rejects heat so well, you can leave it open even in the midday sun.
Lastly, trunk space is also pretty spacious whilst offering loads of flexibility with the numerous tie-down points and hooks. A handy hands-free power liftgate is also standard on all variants.
Powering this Volvo XC60 T8 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged inline-4 petrol engine along with an electric motor mounted at the rear axle. Combined system output is a whopping 407 hp and 640 Nm of torque, powering all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. A 10.4 kWh battery pack provides the XC60 T8 a claimed pure EV range of 30 kilometers.
With both a turbocharger and supercharger aiding the petrol engine, the two forced-induction technologies compensate for each other’s nuances. For instance, the supercharger fills in the lag that turbochargers usually possess. Along with the electric motors aiding the engine, the powertrain is responsive to your throttle inputs and whatever the rev range the petrol engine is in. The transmission could be more responsive but that’s just a minor complaint.
With a zero-to-100 kph time of just around five seconds, the XC60 T8 plug-in hybrid is indeed very quick. That said, the Volvo XC60 T8 never feels as sporty as a BMW X3 or a Jaguar F-Pace. Its steering is too light and numb, plus the comfort-biased suspension means the XC60 has more body roll when going through corners. What the Volvo does spectacularly is being a comfortable cruiser.
Floor the throttle, and the XC60 T8 delivers its power smoothly rather than aggressively. Its hybrid powertrain means that the car is extremely quiet when running on pure electric mode. Along with the very light electric steering and well-insulated interior, the XC60 can eat up the kilometers easily and comfortably during a long road trip.
Making both highway and city driving much easier is Volvo’s Pilot Assist. It’s basically adaptive cruise control with steering assist that works reliably in highways and stop-and-go traffic. The good thing about it is the system’s ability to keep itself constantly in the middle of a lane, even on curved expressways. If there are no lane markings, the system scans the vehicles ahead in order to maintain its position on a highway. While Pilot Assist works extremely well, it’s still not a fully-automated system. The vehicle will alert you if your hands are not on the wheel.
As a daily driver, the Volvo XC60 T8’s 30-kilometer pure electric range means if you’re simply planning to go to the grocery store, you can do so without consuming a drop of fuel. Do note, however, that being too enthusiastic with the throttle will significantly lower its pure electric range and/or the petrol engine will kick-in.
Once the batteries are low on power, the Volvo XC60 T8 reverts back to being a normal hybrid vehicle, switching from petrol to electric power on the fly. The petrol engine can also act as a generator, charging the battery as you drive, but this will increase your average fuel consumption. If you want to charge the XC60 T8 at home, charging via a standard household 220V outlet takes five hours and it must be through a three-pin socket.
On the subject of fuel economy, I average at 12.7 km/l over a week’s worth of use, while a highway stint netted as much as 33.4 km/l. These fuel economy figures are just about as good as an equivalent diesel compact luxury SUV, but since the Volvo XC60 T8 has the performance of a petrol V8, I’d call it a win either way.
Lastly, because this is a Volvo, safety is paramount to the Swedish luxury automaker. All variants come as standard with City Safety, which bundles automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and large animal detection, oncoming lane mitigation, front and rear cross traffic alert, blind spot warning, just to name a few. This is on top of Volvo’s semi-autonomous driver convenience features such as Park Assist Pilot and the aforementioned Pilot Assist.
The Volvo XC60 is an extremely underrated compact luxury SUV. With a starting price of P4,295,000 for the base D4 Momentum variant, the XC60 slightly undercuts its German rivals in terms of price. Yet in terms of specs, the Swedish offering is packed with advanced semi-autonomous driver features that are either an optional extra or aren’t offered at all in its rivals. Now, is this top trim XC60 T8 Inscription plug-in hybrid worth the extra coin over the base variant? That depends on who you ask. If you want the absolute best in the compact luxury SUV segment, then the powerful, fuel-efficient, and fully-loaded Volvo XC60 T8 PHEV is worthy of consideration.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Space and Practicality: ★★★★★
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★★
Overall: 4.6 out of 5