Volvo XC60 Recharge hybrid review
“The Volvo XC60 Recharge hybrid proves that efficient cars can also be sleek, desirable and fast – but they are rather expensive”
- Beautiful interior
- Numb steering
- Body lean when cornering
While many plug-in hybrid cars prioritise economy above all else, the Volvo XC60 Recharge hybrid (PHEV) is at least as much about speed as it is efficiency. In 2020, the XC60 Recharge range was expanded to include a new T6 entry-level model alongside the existing T8, as well as a range-topping Polestar Engineered performance version.
As such, it has few direct rivals, although for an extra £8,000 or so, the Audi Q5 TFSI e plug-in hybrid has a similar turn of speed and economy.
If you’re after a fast SUV of a similar size and price, the Porsche Macan S and Jaguar F-Pace S offer comparable performance, while a top-of-the-line diesel Audi Q5 won’t match the triple-digit fuel economy of the Recharge models on paper but could perform equally well in real-world driving conditions. You could also consider a Volvo XC60 with a conventional engine, which won’t be as quick, but could save you as much as £20,000.
And it’s price where the XC60 Recharge falls down somewhat, as it’s expensive even in entry-level T6 form. This is partly due to the fact it comes with plenty of standard equipment and partly due to its incredibly sophisticated powertrain, which features across the range, albeit with different power outputs. The front wheels are powered by a 2.0-litre petrol that’s both turbo and supercharged, while the rear wheels are powered by an electric motor and battery pack.
Such a complex configuration is expensive to build and buy, but it brings three key advantages, the first of which is incredible on-paper fuel economy of up to 113mpg and a pure-electric range of 28-33 miles, depending on the model. These official figures will be hard to match unless you make the most of the XC60 Recharge’s battery range, but the second advantage – low company-car tax thanks to CO2 emissions ranging from 55g/km to 73g/km – will be more palpably felt.
Then there’s the speed; all versions of the XC60 Recharge are rapid. Even the base T6 model sprints from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, with the standard T8 and Polestar Engineered models completing the benchmark in 5.5 and 5.4 seconds respectively. The driving experience itself is slightly at odds with this performance, though, as the steering is light and uncommunicative, while the suspension leans toward comfort and body lean rather than sharpness and level cornering. This isn’t a problem in lesser XC60s, but the Recharge T8’s power doesn’t sit well with its cosseting nature.
Inside, every XC60 Recharge is a thing of beauty, with excellent built quality and premium materials. You can choose from six trim levels depending on the engine chosen – with the T6 limited to Inscription Expression, Inscription and R-Design. Go for the T8 and R-Design Pro, Inscription Pro or the flagship Polestar Engineered become available. Inside, the dashboard design is carried over from the larger XC90. That means a portrait touchscreen takes centre stage, while digital dashboard dials, leather seats and sat nav are standard.
What issues there are when it comes to practicality are relatively minor. The rear doors’ aperture isn’t as wide as one might wish, so loading child seats is a little more fiddly than is ideal, but head and legroom are generous. The boot, at 505 litres, trails the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3, although it’s big enough for families.
The XC60 should be a solid ownership prospect. It was praised by owners in our 2020 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but Volvo as a company came tenth out of 30 brands. Equally, it’s safe too, earning a full five-star rating when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP in 2017.
Find out how this car scored on our sister site DrivingElectric