Revised plug-in hybrid XC60 gets a bigger battery pack, brawnier motor and Volvo’s smart new Google-based UI system.
While Volvo is pushing its EV models hard as it moves towards full electrification, it is also pushing some very aggressive model cycles for the development of its plug-in hybrids. Less than a year after we first experienced the XC60 PHEV, the company has already given the electrical side of its powertrain some substantial upgrades, the same revisions set to be offered on the company’s other larger plug-ins.
In Australia, the XC60 plug-in hybrid was previously called the XC60 T8 Polestar, but in 2022 will simply be called the XC60 Recharge and it arrives soon. In anticipation of Volvo’s upgraded model to Australia, we took an early drive in Europe.
The big change is the arrival of a new, longer-range battery featuring a third layer of cells. This has a capacity of 18.8kWh, an increase of more than 50 per cent over the earlier PHEV’s 11.6kWh. This is enough to boost electric-only range in the XC60 Recharge to 75km.
The electric motor that powers the rear axle has also been upgraded to make 107kW – an increase of 42kW. Working in conjunction with a turbocharged and supercharged engine in the Recharge that produces 228kW, the maximum output from the drivetrain is 335kW and 709Nm – the most powerful Volvo road car powertrain so far.
The Recharge powertrain is certainly impressively rapid when both combustion and electrical sides are working together. The XC60 launches hard and accelerates at a vigour that makes the fitment of Volvo’s corporate 180km/h speed limiter seem like a cruel curtailment. There is little doubt an unconstrained would be able to easily attain the 250km/h that Volvo used to restrict its cars to.
We’ve always liked the XC60 Recharge, and perhaps unsurprisingly, a more powerful version with greater all-electric range makes this an even more appealing premium SUV to spend time in.
It glides away almost silently in EV mode, and equally quiet, emissions-free running can be sustained right up to freeway speed if you don’t push the throttle past kickdown, bringing the engine into life, or switch the XC60 into the Power drive mode. The one-pedal mode also works impressively well; as in the fully electric C40 Recharge, it allows the XC60 Recharge to be brought to an almost imperceptible stop.
Not that selecting the new function is particularly easy. The new Google-based UI system looks good and copes well when asked to provide navigation and entertainment functions. But it has also been given control of lots of the car’s settings, with most of these buried in sub-menus.
Space for four adults is good, and while boot room has taken a minor hit, falling to 468 litres, due to packaging the electric motor, those losses are felt under the boot floor. The effective space behind the tailgate is the same as in mild-hybrid XC60s.
Elsewhere, the car remains as it has been for some time. The steering is lighter than in sportier rivals from BMW and Mercedes, and the ride is slightly softer, too. Despite the high level of power on offer, it still feels very much like a relaxed cruiser rather than a performance SUV. If you don’t stretch the 2.0-litre engine all the way to its maximum, it remains quiet and refined. Ride quality matches these traits with a generally smooth and controlled feel.
The Volvo XC60 is still a premium SUV with strong appeal almost half a decade after its debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, and this updated Recharge model brings improved plug-in hybrid tech to Volvo’s mid-size SUV. The refreshed model launches soon in Australia, available to buyers from $97,990 before on-road costs.
|Model:||Volvo XC60 Recharge|
|Price:||$97,990 before on-road costs|
|Batt./motor:||2.0-litre 4cyl petrol turbo|
|Transmission:||Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive|
|On sale:||Early-mid 2022 (Australia)|