Volvo is not the brand you might remember, times have changed for the better. We have tested many of the vehicles available in New Zealand; XC40, XC60, S90 and the V90, two of which claimed the top award of DriveLIfe Car of the Year – the Volvo V90 D Cross Country in 2017 and the Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design in 2018.

It’s even fair to say that we have never really seen a bad review towards any of the Volvo range. Our first Volvo review of 2020 is the new V60 T8 AWD R-Design, the twin engine performance hybrid.

Can you mix hybrid and performance and be left with a good all round vehicle? We spent a week in the V60 to find out.

The Range

In New Zealand the V60 is available in three trim levels and two powertrains. The trim levels are Momentum, Inscription and R-Design. The Momentum is the generic spec, Inscription is focused towards comfort and luxury while the R-Design is targeting the Sport segment. The overall visual difference is small, but each one has its own characteristics. Mixed with the 14 colour options available, Volvo has made it possible to customize a unique vehicle.


The available powertrains for the V60 are the T5 AWD and the T8 AWD. It’s worth noting that the T8 AWD is only available with the R-Design trim in New Zealand. The T5 AWD has a 2.0-litre inline-4 petrol-turbocharged engine. This engine produces 187kW of power and 350Nm of torque and has a combined fuel consumption rating of 7.3 litres per 100km. The T8 is a bit more interesting as it’s a Hybrid. This powertrain combines a plug-in electric motor with a 2.0-litre inline-4 petrol-supercharged and turbocharged engine. These systems combined produce a total of 311kW of power and a massive 670Nm of torque, all while having a combined fuel consumption rating of 2.0 litres per 100km. That’s a pretty impressive claim. It also allows the V60 to go from 0-100 in 4.5 seconds. To really highlight how impressive this drivetrain is, my own 2009 Audi RS6 has 5.0-litre twin turbo V10 engine, producing 426kW of power and 650Nm of torque does 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds. Sub 5 seconds to 100km/h is not bad for a Volvo station wagon.

The price range for these specs and engines start with the V60 T5 AWD Momentum at $74,900, and the V60 T5 AWD Inscription starts at $79,990. The R-Design comes available with both powertrain specs, the V60 T5 AWD R-Design starts at $82,900 and the V60 T8 AWD R-Design starts at $114,900

The trim levels are well spec’d out, Volvo have not skimped on the details. The Momentum includes: adaptive cruise control, adjustable speed limiter, blind spot monitors with steering assist and cross traffic alert, City safety (autonomous emergency braking) distance alert, drive mode settings, park assist with rear view camera, park assist with front sensors, bluetooth connection, cleanzone air quality system, iron ore aluminium inlays, power tailgate, Sensu 9” touch screen centre display, smartphone integration with Apple Carplay and Android Auto, temporary spare wheel and jack, 17” alloy wheels and Momentum exterior styling package.

The Inscription adds the following equipment to the previous list. A 360-degree camera, heads up display, leather clad key remote, park assist pilot, 4-zone climate control, driftwood inlays, heated front seats, 19” alloy wheels, Inscription exterior styling package, and LED headlights with active high beam. 

The R-Design spec includes everything from the Momentum and Inscription while adding the following. Charcoal interior headliner, metal mesh inlay, R-Design exterior styling package, Chassis four-c (dynamic chassi for T8 only) and Polestar engineered rank mark on tailgate

Our review car was the V60 T8 AWD R-Design in Bright Silver and had been optioned with the V60 Premium Pack ($6500). This pack included the Bowers and Wilkins Premium system, panoramic sunroof and the tinted windows. Including options this vehicle’s price tag was $121,400.

First Impressions

The Volvo V6 R-Design T8 is one good looking vehicle, everyone who saw it spoke about how great it looked. It has the right amount of that staunch powerful look while having a subtle sleeper vibe to it too. As I walked around it, I only found more and more things that I liked, about the only thing that disappointed me was the colour. I had hoped for Bursting Blue, a great Volvo colour, perfect for R-Design vehicles like this. With that being said, I still liked the bright silver paint on our review car.

Looking at the V60 you wouldn’t think that it is capable of the high performance figures it boasts, don’t let the boring old Volvo stigma cloud your judgement, this is a serious power wagon. It was time to jump inside and see if the accolade of the V90 and XC40 would carry on with the latest V60.

The Inside

Inside the V60 is like a swedish furniture store, it’s well built and has modern styling. Good solid features, lovely to touch and feel materials, all combined in a pretty minimal dashboard and cabin experience. Not a lot of buttons, which is nice to see. Overall a nicer environment to be in. 

If there is one thing that the DriveLife team loves about Volvo’s, it’s the comfort level of their seats. I have told many people about how comfy Volvo’s are and it’s usually met with some hesitation. Like “how comfy can a car seat be?” –  that is until they try it. Then it’s followed by “oh wow, that is really comfy” like sitting on a cloud that perfectly formed your bum and set up for your weight alone. I have no idea how they make their seats comfier than other manufactures. My guess is some sort of Unicorn mane woven into the stitches stuffed with the feathers of the Dodo bird. If you ever get the chance you have to try them out. It’s very safe to say that it takes no time at all to find the perfect seating position. 

I was lucky to find that this car had been spec’d with the Bowers and Wilkins sound system. This system blew me away. There are many great sound systems, but this one was next level. The clarity was unimaginable, and you could not tell where the sound was coming from, it was everywhere. Listening to some of the news stations, you almost felt like someone was sitting beside you reading the news to you, which was kind of weird. It was so crisp and the range was just amazing. The additional cost for this was at first a bit too much to swallow, but once experienced, it’s worth every dollar.

The Sensu central media display currently in the Volvo range is really easy to use. It allows many buttons to be hidden away, it also has a huge level of customisation. The main display shows four sections; Nav, Media, Phone and optional. This is the home screen and with a swipe left or right you can access the other menus with ease. The left screen is where all the apps live. Here you can add or remove apps, and set one to display in the optional area of the home screen. From the home screen going right, you have a huge selection of buttons, which allows you to control all of the features of the vehicle. You can even move these around, making the more common buttons easier to find. One thing I did like, for when my daughter was in the back seats, going through a seat kicking phase. I was able to, from the driver’s seat, select the seat functions of the passenger seat in this menu and using the controls on my seat, move it away so she could not kick it. Much better than climbing over the centre console to try and reach the passenger seat controls.

About the only thing that I am not a big fan of with the Volvo range is the new start/stop switch and drive mode selector. Both are a bit different, the start/stop switch is a knob on the centre

console that you turn to the right to turn on or off. The Drive model selector is just below this knob as a thumb roller and button. Maybe it’s that fact that the V60 is a bit sporty, I miss the push button start feel. If pushed I would live with the start/stop knob, it’s not a deal breaker. But I do not like the Drive mode roller at all, fiddly to use, and awkwardly placed, behind where your wrist would be on the console. I had to put some effort into using it, sometimes even looking at it while driving. If I could change anything about the V60, this would be it.

The boot was a bit of a surprise too, a nice size and largest in its class at 525-litres. It has a hand operated retractable cover, which can pull out and over the load, or for quick access slide up the rear pillars. The power boot was great to see, oddly not everyone is doing it, but as this was a big dollar vehicle, I would have been very disappointed if it was not part of the package. In the middle of the boot floor there was a cut out panel that folded up. This was a great addition, something that sporty wagons need to have. As the boot is not always full, you might have a few things rolling around in there, which can be annoying while driving. This panel tilts up to hold smaller items against the back of the rear seats. Simple yet effective idea, very nice Volvo. One thing to note about the T8 models is that they do not come with a spare tyre as the battery and EV motor use this space. You do have access to temporary wheel gel to inflate the tyre if required.

The Drive

Hybrids have always been a mixed bag for me, I like the idea, but not many of the executions. Many of the systems try to be too smart, taking control of everything and working out what is best for you based on the requests on the vehicle. They have never tick my box and thankfully that’s not how the V60 T8 is set up. It’s so simple it’s almost stupid; when in hybrid mode your rev counter is now a power dial. These power dials have defined areas, a range where you know if you stay within you’re only using the battery power and if you exceed this you start using the engine. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer this system as it allows me to get the best out of the two systems available.

I live 7.1km from my place of work, normally a 10-minute drive either way. This drive is a mix of residential streets that goes up and down hills, a brief stint on the motorway and some urban driving. Over the time I had the V60 I was able to get to and from work only using the battery power. The great thing about how Volvo has set up the electric motor is that it’s not something you have to gently use. You don’t have to pull away from an intersection like you’re balancing a cup of water on your head, slow and steady building up speed. No, you just drive like normally while not exceeding the power drain so it uses the petrol engine. I was able to drive around my neighbourhood at normal speeds, get on the motorway and build up to 100km/h keeping pace with other vehicles. What I found was that I never worried too much about the range, it was more about how I used it. 

I was not able to use any of the fast chargers, only recharging the car at the end of each day so it was ready for the next morning. A simple operation, with the charger plug in the front left fender just behind the wheel. The charging unit that comes with the V60 can plug into a standard wall socket and then into the vehicle . At first I thought the luminance yellow cable was a bit much and tasteless, but soon grateful for it when putting the rubbish out at night. That colour made it so easy to see as the car sat on the driveway. 

Touching on the range of the EVbattery, it was small. The entire battery is placed in the central tunnel that runs the length of the vehicle from behind the gearbox. This limited its effect on intruding on the interior spaces, while also giving you a low battery range. I think the best I got from it was 40km. It would have been nice to have a little bit more as I think that would suit my weekly lifestyle perfectly. Most days I was looking at 0.5 litres per 100km fuel consumption. On two occasions, it was 0.0 litres per 100km for the entire day. A long trip to Palmerston North testing it when the battery ran out, it was 6.9 litres per 100km. Not bad for that small engine and no effort to drive efficiently, but it’s not outrageous either. I was really expecting it to be higher.

Out on the road the V60 is a great car to drive, silky smooth handling and effortless sharp steering. It’s very well balanced and does not feel like a big car to drive. Thanks to the electric motors, the smaller engine and those amazing seats, the driving experience is rather relaxing.

There is an option to charge the battery when you’re driving, locking in the current charge so it only uses the engine to power the vehicle. I found that it didn’t charge the vehicle much, only upon braking. It would have been nice to see the engine charge the battery between towns on long drives, so that you can then use the battery when you’re back in more built up areas. I think it would provide a more efficient result and better use of power generated.

When you do want the V60 to move you need to switch its drive mode from Hybrid Everyday Use to Polestar Engineered. Once in this drive mode the car changes its characteristics dramatically. If you’re running in EV mode at the time, the engine bursts into life, while also changing the entire driver display from the EV gauge to a typical RPM and speedo display. The touch of the throttle was noticeable different now too, it had a pep in its step, waiting to go. If you then put your foot to the floor the V60 will haul you to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. That’s really quick and as mentioned before only 0.4 seconds slower than my 600hp V10 Audi RS6. The real boost here is the electric motors providing the instant torque. This engine is a bit of a wizard’s masterpiece. There are subtle sounds from the turbo and supercharger, but overall it’s got a really nice grumble note – so as deep as you would get from a bigger engine, but nice and sporty. I also liked that when you asked a lot from the engine, it still felt refined, working hard but not ringing out for you to stop. This is a sports car and it really enjoys being driven that way.

I was lucky to have a selection of Volvos on review back to back. This V60, the S60 T5 and the XC60 T8 polestar. Many aspects of the V60 and XC60 were exactly the same, however I preferred the overall experience from the V60.  

The Competition

There is not much out there like the V60 T8, there are hybrid cars and there are performance cars. No one else is really pushing both in the same direction, looking at the competition, Volvo appears to have them beating across the board. 

Hybrid Performance Station Wagon

Brand / ModelEnginePower kW/NmNumber of SeatsFuel L/100kmBoot Capacity LitresPrice Highest to Lowest
BMW M340i xDrive Touring3.0-litre, 6-cylinder turbo285/50058.0500$129,300
Mercedes-Benz-AMG C 43 Estate3.0-litre, 6-cylinder turbo287/52059.6460$129,300
Audi S4 Avant3.0-litre, 6-cylinder turbo260/TBC5TBC505$122,500
Volvo V60 T8 AWDHybrid electric / 2.0-litre supercharged/turborcharged311/67052.0529$114,900

PROS

  • Impressive power for a small engine
  • Lovely engine sounds
  • Perfect EV balanceSmooth and comfy ride
  • Such comfy seatsImpressive build quality
  • Great handling
  • Quality, luxury interior
  • Tech level and safety features
  • LED headlights are amazing
  • Big boot
  • Mind blowing sound system
  • Understated fuel economy

CONS

  • Battery range too low
  • Recharge battery on the go
  • Start and stop switch
  • Drive modes roller switch

Summary

There was really not much that I did not like about the Volvo V60 T8 AWD R-Design. It’s a great looking car, understated yet powerful and exciting. More comfortable than its rivals, better value and as safe as houses. The start-stop button and drive model selector I would live with as the rest of the car is so good.

The only thing that I could see being improved on this hybrid was the battery range. 40km was pretty small, 60km or 80km would have been perfect. I found that on the majority of days I would be using the petrol engine towards the end of the city trips. If there was a bit more range, I am pretty sure that you would only need to refuel every couple of months. This is based on driving it somewhat sensibly, which was hard considering you had all that performance at your fingertips. 

I really liked the Volvo V60 T8 AWD R-Design and I am sure we will see it again later in the year for the 2020 DriveLife car of the year awards. 

2020 Volvo V60 T8 AWD R-Design PHEV

Vehicle TypeAll-wheel drive luxury 5-door wagon
Starting Price$114,900
Price as Tested$121,400
EnginePlug-In Hybrid with 2.0 l4 Petrol Supercharged/Turbocharged and Electric Motor
Power, Torque311kW/670Nm
TransmissionEight-speed Geartronic automatic
Spare WheelNone, Gel puncture it
Kerb Weight, Kg2058
Length x Width x Height, mm4761 x 1850 x 1432
Cargo Capacity, litres529
Fuel tank capacity, litres60 
Fuel Economy, L/100kmAdvertised Spec – Combined – 2.0Real World Test – Combined – 5.4Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
Towing CapacityKg, unbraked/braked0
Turning circle, metres11Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
 Warranty2 years warranty
ANCAP Safety RatingsTo be tested

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.