Road Test: Volvo S90 T8
Following the hugely successful launch of the XC90 and XC60, Volvo’s saloon and estate car line-up is undergoing a similarly modern update with the introduction of the S90 and V90. The largest of Volvo’s and based on the same chassis as the XC90, the S90 benefits from the company’s latest engine line-up, including the plug-in hybrid T8 we have here.
The S90 is available with a fleet-friendly D4, D5 or range-topping T8. The latter offers more than 400bhp and greater torque than a Nissan GTR. However, while its sporting credentials might stand out on a page, it’s the fuel-sipping qualities it purports to offer that will attract business customers. While the entry-level D4 pumps out a respectfully low 116g/km CO2, the T8 puffs just 46g/km. Likewise, BiK for the D4 is 25%, while the T8 is just 9% for the 2017/18 tax year.
However, the entry-level diesel starts at £33,865 OTR while the T8 commands a hefty £57,100. That said, the T8 could be seen as a relative bargain considering its performance potential and the realisation that it’s 2.0-litre turbo and supercharged petrol engine outputs more horsepower than a Honda Civic Type-R and Jaguar F-Type – both equipped with 2.0-litre units themselves. Out-horsepowering those kinds of sports car does, however, have its drawbacks and real-world fuel consumption is a distance away from the official NEDC combined mpg value of 141.2. In practice, an average of around 40mpg was easy to achieve with a blend of pure-EV motoring and petrol long-distance over the course of a week. Another drawback is the petrol units relatively coarse nature and there’s an inkling that Volvo’s engineers might have over-stretched it a bit, particularly for an application such as a large luxury saloon offering. That being said, when off the boil the engine is all-but mute thanks to impressive levels of sound insulation.
Volvo’s newest cars incorporate a high level of standard equipment when compared to rivals, which Volvo says helps justify their on-initial-glance high asking price. Standard features include a raft of safety options – a given on any Volvo – like Pedestrian, Cyclist and Large Animal Detection and Front Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake. Volvo’s clever semi-autonomous Pilot Assist is also standard, offering lane keep assist technology combined with radar-powered adaptive cruise control. The central 9-inch touchscreen is a real joy to use and incorporates a European lifetime-updated sat nav, phone connection, Android Auto, Apple Carplay and a raft of driver options including chassis and engine setup preferences. There’s also a neat remote smartphone app that enables various features from pre-heating to –soon- being able to share a digital key. In all, there’s every bell and whistle one could possibly hope for. Three trim options, Momentum, R-Design and Inscription keep choices simple, although fleets may like to look at the Pro variants of each, which include the most popular options pre-added for convenience.
Although the T8 has all the power anyone could ever need, the chassis doesn’t offer handling to match. Straight-line speed is the name of the game here if desired, but again, that’s not really the point of the powertrain. In electric mode, there’s around 22-miles range before the car reverts to hybrid mode – still benefiting from electric drive when slowing down and selectable regen, but lacking the additional 85bhp the ‘leccy motor adds to the petrol unit’s 318bhp. And here in lies a small but significant problem: the petrol engine is a little too potent to match the rest of the car’s quiet luxury.
What We Think
Overall, the S90 is a wondrous thing. It has a certain timeless elegance about it, while the cossetting interior is a place many happy hours can be spent in total luxury. And despite the T8’s petrol unit, the electric motor manages to balance the experience enough to create a surreal and practical plug-in experience.
Segment: Upper large
Type: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)
Fuel: 141.2mpg (NEDC combined)
Electric range: ~22 miles (NEDC)
CO2 emissions (tailpipe): 46g/km
Charging Port: Type 2 AC
For more of the latest industry news, click here.