The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

Volvo XC60 Recharge plug-in hybrid T8 AWD Ultimate

Don’t be fooled by its executive looks, Volvo’s popular hybrid SUV is more than up to the task of a day in the field, discovers Ed Coles

Volvo XC60

Overall Rating: 90%

Manufacturer: Volvo

Pros: Great performance, smooth and quiet ride

Price as reviewed: £68,465

Cons: Battery range sapped when defrosting

Volvo XC60

Volvo XC60

Since 2008, the Volvo XC60 has become a popular higher-end SUV. The updated XC60 has some modern witchcraft combined with old-fashioned engine power. Available in three specs, the Core comes with the B5 petrol engine; the Plus is available with a diesel, petrol or hybrid; and the top-of-the-range Ultimate has a chalice of two petrol hybrids, T6 or T8. We’re taking a look at the higher spec Ultimate T8 AWD Recharge plug-in hybrid here.

The silhouette is sleek, with a touch of elegance. The metallic denim blue paintwork, chrome, 20in wheels, LED lights and trademark grille is certainly eye-catching. The shape has evolved since 2008; bumpers have melted into wings, lights have gotten smaller yet brighter but the high-end look has remained. Crouching down, the ground clearance looks encouraging; 216mm should be more than enough breathing space, but with the specified wading depth being “bottom of the sill”, we won’t go looking for too much water.

gun slip in car boot

There’s plenty of room for all your kit in the boot

Wolf in sheep’s clothing

The T8 is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The exterior has an executive, high-end feel, but under the bonnet it’s quite different. Opening the large, curved bonnet we’re greeted with a surprising amount of space around the two-litre petrol turbo engine.

The four-cylinder engine gallops out 310 tiny horses with 400Nm of torque. Combined with that, the Volvo XC60 T8 has an electric motor driving the rear wheels that produces 145bhp and 309Nm of torque. This gives the T8 a maximum of 455bhp. The eight-speed automatic gearbox helps work the XC60 to a top speed of 112mph.

Opening the automatic tailgate we’re greeted with a decent boot, fitting around 10 bags of wheat. It’s more than enough room for kit, shopping or dogs. The boot floor does sit at a slight angle but nothing drastic, and the rifle fits in at an angle. With the rear seats folded down, the load area is more than doubled.

Volvo XC60

Light cloth seats could be an issue for some

The interior is stylish with a certain quality about it. The practicalities of light cloth seats may be an issue, but comfort-wise the heated seats are spot on. Fitting the child seat scores zero on the faff-o-meter. The central touchscreen operates the goodies and gizmos, and the Volvo App lets you operate some of the settings from your phone or tablet.

Charge and driving settings are fairly straightforward, too. We have hybrid mode, pure mode — which prioritises electric power — power mode, off-road and permanent AWD. Charge settings are simple. We can hold the battery charge and just use the engine or charge as we drive.

Foot down

Reversing out of my lunar-surfaced driveway there’s no bottoming out or horrid noises, apart from the parking sensors warning me of the high curb. Pulling out on to the main road I’ve soon got cause to put my foot down. Overtaking a lorry, the drive is instantaneous and the acceleration puts me back in the seat, and I’ve not even pushed the power button yet.

Volvo XC60

On the open road the ride is as expected — smooth, quiet and comfortable. The XC60 holds the road well and seems to glide over bumps and ruts. The ride on country lanes is equally comfortable and the handling is precise, almost sporty. You’re only aware you’re in an SUV under heavy braking for tight turns, a slight bit of understeer lets you know we’re sitting higher than a normal car.

Battery-only driving is quite impressive. The response from the rear motor is exceptional. In battery mode the brake pedal becomes almost null and void; lifting your foot off the accelerator, the vehicle automatically decelerates, almost to the point that you hit the windscreen. The brakes put a decent amount of charge into the battery, but being heavy right-footed without using the hold or recharge function does soak up range. Selecting off-road mode, which works up to 12mph, it’s time to go somewhere more challenging. We can also select permanent AWD, which is kind of a diff-lock function if things get too much for the road-going 20in tyres. The change from tarmac to gravel is uneventful, still smooth and quiet. The change from gravel to grass is equally smooth, and on hitting the first rut things stay true, with a mild ‘donking’ from the suspension as the wheels drop into the potholes.

Pulling into the wood, the ruts have been filled in and can only be described as a chalky pudding. There’s a brief bit of twisting but no trouble with traction. Venturing through the wood, the Volvo XC60 negotiates the track with ease, and the parking assist helps for the turnaround at the end.

Then it’s off to the railway. The entrance is taken as a hairpin bend with the added excitement of changing from tarmac to what is now chalky pudding soup with a large pothole in the middle. Things start off promising, but as we exit the soup and hit the sodden ruts, it gets a bit slideways. Just as I’m imagining phoning the farmer to apologise about his wheat, the electric witchcraft kicks in and we’re off up the incline.

The return downhill journey is impressive, but the suspension does feel better going over bumps rather than dropping into holes. Overall though, it’s a pretty good off-piste effort.

Interior Volvo

The interior is sleek with a high-end feel


The XC60 T8 Ultimate is impressive. The performance is astonishing, all the mod-cons have a high-end feel and it performs well on varying roads, including being up to the task of a day in the field. The overall charging is good, but it’s probably worth paying £900 for the home fast-charging port. My only criticism is how the battery range was eaten on a frosty morning defrosting the screen – 15 miles of range was soon gone, but that’s possibly my fault for not selecting the hold charge function. The XC60 starts off at £47,465 for the Core model. For the Ultimate T8 Recharge hybrid version here, it comes out at £68,465. It sounds a lot, but what would the equivalent Audi or Land Rover cost?

Need to know

  • Manufacturer Volvo
  • Model XC60
  • Power (petrol/electric combined) 455bhp
  • Engine 310bhp and 400Nm of torque
  • Electric motor 145bhp and 309Nm of torque
  • Top speed 112mph
  • 0-62mph 4.6 seconds
  • Emissions CO2 24–30g/km
  • Economy 217–282mpg
  • Electric range up to 48 miles
  • Towing weight Braked 2,250kg Unbraked 750kg
  • Ground clearance 216mm
  • Charge time 5–7 hours three-pin, three hours fast-charging


Great performance, smooth and quiet ride