2017 Volvo XC60 T8-Hybrid R-Design quick review

By David Bonnici, 15 Nov 2017 Car Reviews

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2017 Volvo XC60 T8 Hybrid R-Design

With its powerful plug-in hybrid powertrain, the range-topping XC60 is a delight to drive in all conditions

TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR

This is the flagship model for the new XC60 luxury medium SUV, which is a vast improvement on the previous version.

It is built on the same all-new chassis as the larger XC90, which has allowed Volvo to fit the XC60 with the same powerful “T8” 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine used in the bigger SUV as part of a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The range-topping R-Design spec brings an enhanced adaptive sports chassis and suspension giving its sport sedan-like road holding and corning.

Volvo XC60 T8-Hybrid R-Design

The XC60 T8-Hybrid R-Design is priced from $92,990 and comes with a scrolling list of standard features as well as a host of optional extras to take the price well beyond $100,000.

STRENGTHS

  • It’s safe. You’d expect that from a Volvo, but the new XC60 has received the highest Euro NCAP crash test rating so far in 2017, scoring an “almost-perfect 98 percent” for the way it protected adults in a simulated crash. And its autonomous emergency braking scored maximum points in Euro NCAP low-speed tests “typical of city driving”, with collisions avoided at all test speeds.
  • The R-Design spec comes with Pilot Assist and BLIS active safety as standard. Pilot Assist takes care of semi-autonomous steering, acceleration, and braking on well-marked roads up to 130 km/h, while BLIS takes over the steering to evade a head-on collision should the driver stray into the wrong lane.

Volvo XC60 T8-Hybrid R-Design

  • It’s incredibly quiet. In many electrified vehicles the silence of running on batteries is often undermined by tyre or wind noise, but the XC60 T8 is incredibly quiet even when the engine is running. On batteries it is submarine silent and I actually found it quite soothing to drive without the radio or climate control fan on.
  • There are several driving modes including Pure, which is all electric, Hybrid, which uses the electric motor and petrol engine to balance power and efficiency and Power mode, which uses the electric motor and (mainly) the petrol engine to make the most of the 300kW/640Nm on tap, including giving the SUV a 0-100km acceleration time of 5.3 seconds.
  • Hybrid mode is the happy medium and in heavy urban freeway traffic it provides plenty of zip. I averaged around 8.0L/100km.
  • If you’re able to charge it up every night, the theoretical Pure electric range is 45km, which would cover most trips to, and some from, work. That said that distance would be significantly reduced on a hot Aussie morning if you have the climate control cranked up.

Volvo XC60 T8-Hybrid R-Design plug

  • Apart from the raised driving position this doesn’t feel like you’re behind the wheel of an SUV. The chassis feels well planted around bends, with minimal body roll, and the adaptive suspension puts UN diplomats to shame with the way its finds a compromise between road handling and comfort.
  • Get your head around its control and infotainment layout – particularly the multiple layers and modes of the swipe-and-push touchscreen – and there’s a fine mix of functionality and design.
  • Boot space is 505 litres, which is about average for a medium SUV, and the wide opening helps fit bulky loads.

Volvo XC60 T8-Hybrid R-Design

WEAKNESSES

  • It’s quite wide for medium SUV which can make it difficult to park within the lines. Helping you, however, are a 360-degree camera view and an automated parking assistant.
  • The head-up display sits towards the centre of the windscreen, which can give the illusion that you’re too far to the left.
  • Despite the hefty price tag you’ll have to fork out more for creature comforts that some models take for granted. Our test car was fitted with the Premium Pack that added heated front/rear seats and steering wheel, ventilated front seats, tinted rear glass, the active chassis with air suspension, and a Nappa leather interior. This costs $7500, taking the retail price to $105,340.

Volvo XC60 T8-Hybrid R-Design interior

  • The crystal-look gear selector looks a bit naff and gets very hot when the car is parked in the summer sun.
  • There’s no spare tyre, so if you get a flat and use the tyre inflation kit, you’ll also need to replace the rubber after you’ve limped back home. Not great if it happens off road.

ARE THERE ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?

The XC60 has a host of rivals including the usual German and British suspects such as the Audi A5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Jaguar F-Pace, Porsche Macan and Range Rover Velar. The list shortens significantly when confining it to electrified drivetrains, such as the hybrid Lexus NX300h Sports Luxury or the all-electric Tesla Model X 75D. BMW is believed to be making plans to one day have an all-electric version of its latest-generation X3 on sale; a plug-in version appears to have been shelved for now.