In recent years one way to kill the mood in a conversation about cars would be to mention “hybrid” or “Volvo”. In the past they have been words uttered by those who didn’t care about looks or performance. Times have changed and surely staff has changed because Volvo is now producing vehicles that are far from boring or ugly.
In the EFTM garage landed the new XC60 T8 edition. Before getting into what is under the bonnet, look around this thing, it’s absolutely gorgeous. The new headlights which we’ve seen similar in the XC90 is just a standout and the flow of the styling from the dominant front through the rear is just really well done. We haven’t showed this car to anyone who wasn’t immediately struck by the road presence of this car and how obvious it is that times have changed at Volvo. The large 21 inch wheels also confirm that this model is on the higher end of the scale in the XC60 range and once you get inside you can understand why.
The interior is an example of modern art, the gear shifter made by Orrefors is beautiful, Orrefors are normally known for manufacturing barware and stemware so moulding glass or crystal to make this shifter is a lovely touch. The engine start switch looks more like a piece of jewellery and is flicked to awaken the vehicle.
Gazing slightly higher leads you to the obvious 12.3inch infotainment system which runs a high resolution touch display helping you control all the entertainment features of the car, including Apple CarPlay, but also to control the air conditioning or the cooling/heating of your seats. A drive mode dial will allow you to change the mood of the car from Sport to Comfort which not only impacts the engine but also the suspension which will rise or lower to suit your choice of driving, including off-road. This is done through an air-suspension system very quickly and quietly.
Looking dead ahead is a heads-up display unit helping you keep your eyes on the road but the place where the speedometer normally is is entirely digital. It is one big screen which can fill with navigation, infotainment and more. It will adjust if your driving mode changes and will also be a focal point when managing the radar cruise and partial autonomous driving.
Under the hood of this XC60 T8 is a 4 cylinder turbo supercharged hybrid. You’ll be able to run this car on electric only for 40km’s which for many could be your entire commute. If the engine is running however it can charge your battery or the batteries can be charged from any powerpoint.
The XC60 really comes to life when all three power delivery methods come together, it is like the powers combined in Captain Planet because boy will it move. 0-100km/h is achieved in 5.3 seconds which makes it quicker than most cars on the road while being able to offer a fuel consumption rating of 2.1L per 100km. 2.1L per 100km is insanely low but this is only achieved when you are smart about how you use the hybrid powertrain and obviously relax on testing that 0-100 time.
Driving this vehicle is impressive to say the least. In the city it turns and weaves like a small hatch and on the open road it is quiet, smooth and relaxed. Speaking of relaxed the radar cruise combined with the automated steering is a real treat on the highway, it enables you to set your top speed (usually the speed limit) and loosen your grip on the wheel. The car will rightly detect if you have let go and will remind you to grip the wheel. The car, while able to navigate the bends on a highway should not be entirely relied upon, in multiple situations we did need to take over and one thing we didn’t like was how the car would stick to the left line rather than the middle of the lane.
This meant that when you were in the right lane you would pass cars on your left very close which made us a little nervous. We also noticed that if the car felt it could no longer perform autonomously anymore it would simply deactivate and we had better be ready to steer as no warning or notification would be provided. So pay attention. A 360 camera with self parking and exiting is extremely handy for anyone nervous on parallel parking situations. In our tests we found this to work well however we did stop it once as it came too close to the kerb than we would have liked. The XC60 is smart, very smart, but you can’t let it go completely – humans are still required. The XC60 will also look at the speed zone for you, in a city where road works are always on going, the XC60 will notice temporary speed signs and alert you of the new zones with a display in front of you, it even did this in car parks!
From a comfort point of view you’re spoilt in the cabin, plenty of room for all occupants, a Bowers and Wilkins stereo for all your music, a panoramic sunroof and lots of boot space. Speaking of the boot, if you find the load is hard to remove you can control the air suspension in the rear to lower or lift the car to suit you, as we said – you’re simply spoilt with this car.
Like any piece of luxury with the latest technology it does come at a price, the T8 model does start at $92,990 plus on-road costs. For that money though it certainly packs in a list of equipment and features a mile long and there isn’t a shortcut taken, the attention to detail from Volvo and the versatility of this vehicle is simply impressive. The next time someone mentions “Hybrid” or “Volvo” we’ll have a couple of things to add, and it’s far from boring.