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Volvo XC60 R-Design T8 2018 review

EXPERT RATING
8.3
The top of the Volvo XC60 range is a plug-in hybrid – not a token variant, not a half-hearted attempt to be seen to be doing the right thing. Nope, the top-grade XC60 is the twin engine, R-Design T8.

Hybrids have always been kind of like the vegetarian option at a restaurant. You know, carmakers will have a whole menu of diesel and petrol variants in a range, and then maybe a hybrid version, if you're lucky.

Well, Volvo is changing that because the top of the XC60 range is a hybrid – not a token variant, not a half-hearted attempt to be seen to be doing the right thing, not a side salad. Nope, if you want the top-grade XC60 then you can only get the twin engine R-Design T8, which is a plug-in hybrid.

This an indication that Volvo's serious about its claim that by 2019 every new model the Swedish manufacturer builds will have an electric motor.

I lived with the XC60 T8 R Design for a week. Was it any different to co-habiting with a regular petrol SUV? Do you have to make any compromises with a plug-in hybrid in terms of space or practicality? Is this the future a genuine top-of-the-range car, or an expensive alternative? I found out.

Volvo XC60 2018: T8 R-DESIGN (HYBRID)
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeHybrid with Premium Unleaded
Fuel Efficiency2.1L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$87,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   9/10

A long, sculptured bonnet with the cabin set back makes for a pleasing profile. But the stand-out exterior features are its front and back with that stately grille wearing the famous Volvo 'sash', those 'Thor's hammer' LED headlights, and the very Volvo vertical tail-lights. It's prestige, but not of the default BMW or Benz kind.

The XC60 is a mid-sized SUV with dimensions similar to its Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC rivals. The XC60 is 4688mm long, 2117mm wide and 1685mm tall.

The stand-out exterior features are its front and back with that stately grille wearing the famous Volvo 'sash'. The stand-out exterior features are its front and back with that stately grille wearing the famous Volvo 'sash'.

You can tell a T8 from the rest of its family by the sunroof, the R-Design grille, 21-inch rims, and of course, the badge on the tailgate.

The cabin is modern and minimalist. The metal mesh inlay that traces the dashboard and dips under the vertical screen is beautiful and simple. The pedals, seats, carpet and steering wheel get the R-Design treatment.

What you'll see first, though, is the gear knob – it's crystal and handmade by Orrefors glassworks in Sweden. Then there's the start button, which looks like the lid of an expensive bottle of aftershave - you don't push it, you twist it to turn the car on and off. This is a superbly crafted cockpit.

You can tell a T8 from the rest of its family by the 21-inch rims. You can tell a T8 from the rest of its family by the 21-inch rims.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The XC60's cabin is spacious, with plenty of legroom in the back seats for me (even at 191cm) to sit behind my driving position, and good headroom even (with the sunroof). But a boot capacity of 505 litres isn't huge. Rivals such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC offer 550 litres of cargo space.

  • XC60s with the optional air suspension, like ours, can lower themselves to make loading the boot easier. XC60s with the optional air suspension, like ours, can lower themselves to make loading the boot easier.
  • This helped with getting our Christmas tree in. This helped with getting our Christmas tree in.
  • And those two mannequins (see our video on YouTube where we test the XC60’s AEB). And those two mannequins (see our video on YouTube where we test the XC60’s AEB).

XC60s with the optional air suspension, like ours, can lower themselves to make loading the boot easier, which helped with getting our Christmas tree in (see pictures) and those two mannequins (see our video on YouTube where we test the XC60's AEB).

Storage inside is good, with two cupholders and large door pockets in the front, and two cupholders and smaller door pockets in the back. The centre console storage area under the centre armrest is also a decent size.

The cabin is modern and minimalist. The cabin is modern and minimalist.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The R-Design T8 is the king of the XC60 range and lists for $92,990. Thing is, the R-Design T6 is virtually a carbon copy of the T8, apart from the hybrid system, and lists for $76,990.

Sure, the T8 gets a panoramic sunroof as standard (a $2950 option in the T6) and a handmade crystal gear shift knob (not available on the T6) but the standard features list is almost identical.

It has a 9.0-inch vertical touchscreen. It has a 9.0-inch vertical touchscreen.

There's the 9.0-inch vertical touchscreen, and a 12.3-inch driver display, sat nav, 360 parking camera, auto parking system, head-up display, 10-speaker stereo system with digital radio, leather upholstery, power adjustable driver and passenger seat, R-Design steering wheel, proximity key, paddle shifters, roof rails, LED headlights and a power tailgate.

Another point of difference between the T8 and T6, is the T8 has dual-zone climate control, while the T6 gets four-zone. I know, outrageous. If it's any consolation the T8 can be set to cool itself automatically with its pre-conditioning system. You'll also find rear air-vents in the back row.

If you want heated seats it'll cost you $500 for the front ones and $350 for the back row, while a heated steering wheel is $350. Ventilated seats are a $2950 option, but you'll get leather perforated upholstery with them. Tinted glass is a $650 option and the 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo costs $4500.

  • If you want heated seats it’ll cost you $500 for the front ones. If you want heated seats it’ll cost you $500 for the front ones.
  • The XC60’s cabin is spacious, with plenty of legroom in the back seats for me (even at 191cm) to sit behind my driving position. The XC60’s cabin is spacious, with plenty of legroom in the back seats for me (even at 191cm) to sit behind my driving position.

I'd be fibbing if I said the T8 was great value compared to the rest of the range – not when the T6 has almost the same level of features.

The XC60 comes with excellent advanced safety equipment, too. You can read all about what's looking out for you below.

As for rivals, the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC are yet to come to Australia in hybrid form. The Audi SQ5 3.0 TFSI and the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 love fossil fuels, but are close in price. In the meantime, hybrid-wise, there's the Lexus NX300h with the Sports Luxury trim listing for $75,000, but keep in mind this is not a plug-in petrol-electric vehicle.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

The XC60 R-Design T8 has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine paired with an electric motor.

The supercharged and turbocharged engine is impressively powerful for its small size, making 235kW/400Nm, while the motor, which drives the rear wheels only, produces 65kW/240Nm.

What you'll see first, though, is the gear knob – it's crystal and handmade by Orrefors glassworks in Sweden. What you'll see first, though, is the gear knob – it's crystal and handmade by Orrefors glassworks in Sweden.

Acceleration is swift, we're talking 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds. That makes it the fastest-sprinting XC60 in the range. More than half-a-second ahead of the T6 below it, which has the same four-cylinder engine, but no electric motor.

The Maserati Levante S I road tested recently has a twin-turbo, Ferrari-made V6, and is only a tenth of a second quicker to 100km/h. An eight-speed automatic transmission does a smooth, in fact an unnoticeably smooth, job of shifting gears.

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

An SUV this size with a turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine would typically see mileage of about 7.0-9.0L/100km after a combination of urban roads and highways, while city driving alone will see a higher fuel consumption. Volvo claims the XC60 T8 will use as little as 2.1L/100km on the the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle.

But, and this is a big but, you'll have to recharge the battery by plugging the XC60 into a wall unit charger or power point regularly if you want to hit that low fuel figure.

If you don't plug your T8 in and you drive mainly in heavy traffic in the city and burbs, bank on a number similar to the fuel reading I recorded without electric assistance – 14.0L/100km.

Take into consideration, however, that on long trips of hundreds of kilometres you will use your electric reserves, and the T8 will rely more on the petrol engine.

Yes, regenerative braking does put a small amount of charge back into the batteries, and yes, the stop-start system saves fuel, too, but unless you plug-in this SUV daily, you'll find yourself using more fuel than the T6 grade.

The T6 also has the 2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder, but because it doesn't have to carry the T8's batteries and electric motor it's almost 200kg lighter, and that would contribute to the higher fuel usage. So, basically, by not charging my T8, I turned it into a T6 carrying an extra 200kg.

Take into consideration, however, that on long trips of hundreds of kilometres you will use your electric reserves, and the T8 will rely more on the petrol engine. So, while 2.1L/100km may be doable over 100km, what about after 500km straight?

For this reason, as with any plug-in hybrid, the T8 is better suited to regular charging and shorter commutes.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

Quiet, quick, comfortable. If I had three words to sum up the driving experience that would be them. Twist the aftershave bottle lid to switch it on and you're going – no sound as the electric motor wakens and waits.

That's in Hybrid mode. You can roll the mode selector into Dynamic and the petrol engine will start.

I left the car in Hybrid for almost the entire time, where it uses both the petrol engine and electric motor in the most efficient way possible.

Sitting next to the speedo is another dial whose needle swings into the petrol or electric zone depending on which you're drawing your propulsion from. As you hit the brakes the size of the electric zone grows as charge in the batteries is topped up. Providing there's enough charge you can drive purely on electricity in Eco mode.

But not me. Nope, I left it in hybrid and never charged it using the wall plug. I did it for two reasons.

Yup, the acceleration is fairly rapid: 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds isn't supercar territory, but it's quick.

One, I'm lazy, and it would mean asking my wife to move her car out of the driveway so I could park the Volvo close to a power point.

Two, it was purely 'scientific'. I wanted to see what the worst-case scenario would be. It was bad – Volvo claims if you plug it in regularly you'll see an amazing mileage of 2.1L/100km.

Around town the trip computer said I was average 16.0L/100km and this dropped to 14.0L/100km after some motorway travel. Still high, and all because I hadn't charged it, and because of the way I was driving it.

Yup, the acceleration is fairly rapid: 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds isn't supercar territory, but it's quick, and the 'whoomph' of a kick you get when you stand on the go-fast pedal is addictive. That doesn't conserve fuel... not when you're doing it at every traffic light.

If you're planning to outlay $2950 on the optional ventilated seats, I'd recommend going for the air suspension instead. The regular seats are beautiful, and the air bags give the XC60 a super comfy, but composed ride, while maintaining good handling.

Well insulated, the cabin is serene, even with that supercharged and turbocharged engine growling in full flight, there's also minimal wind noise or tyre roar filtering in. The adaptive cruise control with steering assistance works eerily well, too.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   10/10

This is a Volvo and safety is this brand's whole schtick. Not only that, this is a new generation XC60, and it's fitted with Volvo's latest advanced safety technology including AEB, which can detect and stop for animals, humans and other cars.

And for once I can actually say it works, because we got all scientific (well sort of) and tested it – see our YouTube channel where we tested the AEB in the XC60 R-Design T8.

Along with AEB there's steering support, blind spot warning, front and rear cross traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

Tested in 2017 the XC60 scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The XC60s has a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months, whichever comes first.

Volvo offers two service programs: the basic 'SmartCare' and the more comprehensive 'SmartCare Plus'.

The SmartCare three-year/45,000km plan is $2225 (SmartCare Plus costs $3050); a four-year/60,000km version is $3500 ($5200 with SmartCare Plus) and the five-year/75,000km agreement costs $4230 ($6400 with SmartCare Plus).

Verdict

You'd really have to have your heart set on a plug-in hybrid to purchase the XC60 R-Design T8 because you'll have to be dedicated to the cause of recharging it daily. And provided your commutes are short, you should get close to the 2.1L/100km.

If you're one of these conscientious people, you'll be rewarded with good fuel economy and a beautiful SUV which is the quickest, most powerful member of its XC60 family.

If, like me, you're lazy and environmentally irresponsible, or just too busy to plug in anything other than your phone, the T6 offers an almost identical SUV, and you'll find yourself burning through less fuel.

Are you a T8 or a T6 type of person? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Pricing Guides

$71,990
Based on 149 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$55,888
Highest Price
$103,590

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
D4 INSCRIPTION 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $56,990 – 83,990 2018 VOLVO XC60 2018 D4 INSCRIPTION Pricing and Specs
D4 MOMENTUM 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $57,990 – 63,990 2018 VOLVO XC60 2018 D4 MOMENTUM Pricing and Specs
D5 R-Design 2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO $68,800 – 96,888 2018 VOLVO XC60 2018 D5 R-Design Pricing and Specs
T5 INSCRIPTION 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $64,990 – 86,990 2018 VOLVO XC60 2018 T5 INSCRIPTION Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.3
Design9
Practicality7
Price and features7
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption8
Driving9
Safety10
Ownership7
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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