Called the XC90 T8, the ‘plug-in electric’ part offers around 40km of electric-only driving from its rear-mounted 60kW/240Nm motor and 9.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack before the petrol engine kicks in.
‘Hybrid mode’ is the default setting, which sees the 235kW/400Nm 2.0 litre Volvo Drive-E turbo- and supercharged petrol engine alternate with the electric motor to ensure the best possible fuel consumption.
That best figure is 2.5 l/100km with 59g/km for CO2 emissions, and there are three other driving modes - all-wheel-drive, ‘save’ and ‘power’.
Drivers can switch the on-demand AWD to ‘off’ to squeeze the most from the battery, or to simply save fuel when the petrol engine is operating.
If the owner knows they will encounter stop-start city driving at a later stage in their journey, the ‘save’ mode allows them to switch the electric engine off until a driving environment where it’s most effective.
This prevents the current charge rate from dropping, and can even retain a full charge for later in the journey.
Finally, the power mode calls upon both electric and petrol engines to provide maximum output, and enables the XC90 to reach 100km/h from rest in 5.9 seconds.
The electric engine provides the initial torque from take-off while the petrol engine ‘catches up’, before the pair join forces to offer what Volvo says is a torque curve “like a V8”.
The XC90’s eight-speed automatic has been adapted to cope with the unique demands of the plug-in hybrid, including shift-by-wire operation and a larger oil pump to enable seamless switching from electric- to petrol-power.
A crank-mounted ‘starter generator’ has its own 34kW output for effortless engine starting while on the move, and can provide an additional 150Nm of torque to the driver when ‘power’ mode is selected.
On the inside, owners can use a smartphone app to pre-heat or cool their XC90’s interior; while it is still plugged in.
This means while the electric motor runs the climate control system - with zero CO2 emissions from the car - the battery can potentially remain fully-charged for when the owner is ready to leave.
The 2015 Volvo XC90 T8 will soon be available only in top-spec R-Design trim in Australia, priced from $122,950 plus on-roads.
MORE: 2015 Volvo XC90 - Price And Features For Australia
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