Cars - Volvo

Road tests and reviews of the latest Volvo models available in South Africa

2016 Volvo XC90 T8

By Franky Johnson

The all-new Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine is now available in South Africa. The flagship of the local XC90 range, the new XC90 T8 Twin Engine brings Volvo Cars’ new electrification strategy to South African roads for the first time.

“With the new XC90 T8 Twin Engine we are rewriting what is possible for plug-in hybrid vehicles,” says Volvo Car South Africa Managing Director, Greg Maruszewski.

“Combining electric power and our turbo- and supercharged Drive-E powertrain with ultimate seven-seat SUV practicality and comfort, the XC90 T8 Twin Engine exudes class, sophistication and Swedish luxury while providing incomparable levels of fuel economy and ultra-low carbon emissions. Built on our Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, its full seven-seat configuration has been retained with no real impact on passenger or luggage space, while the power available from its petrol and electric engines bestows it with exceptional performance and efficiency.”

With its two engines, total power output is 300 kW, with 640 Nm of torque on hand – yet average combined-cycle fuel economy is as low as 2.1-litres per 100 km. Carbon emissions are just 49 g/km.

Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Volvo Car Group, Dr Peter Mertens, expands: “There are no compromises when you drive the all-new XC90 T8 Twin Engine – in the past you could either have power or low emissions. But with the all-new XC90 T8 Twin Engine you can have both.

“We have been working hard to earn our competitive edge and to give our customers the ultimate combination of performance and low fuel consumption. Our Twin Engine technology has enabled us to build on our heritage of efficient powertrain development in a completely new way. Thanks to SPA and our world-class four-cylinder engines, we have a clear and leading position.”

Two engines for twice the character

The all-wheel drive XC90 T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid (PHEV) is, as its name suggests, powered by two engines.

A conventional internal combustion setup is employed up front, with the award-winning 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo- and supercharged Volvo Drive-E petrol engine powering the front wheels, providing 235 kW and 400 Nm via Volvo’s 8-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox.

The rear wheels are powered by the Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD) system, which sees an electric motor fed by a 9.2 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack for an additional and on-demand 65 kW and 240 Nm. It not only integrates seamlessly with the internal combustion engine, but also bestows the XC90 T8 Twin Engine with a pure-electric range of up to 43 km.

Accompanying the Twin Engine setup, a Crank-Integrated Starter Generator (CISG), located between the engine and the gearbox, performs three important functions. First, it is a powerful 34 kW starter motor which allows the car to alternate seamlessly between pure electric and hybrid driving. Secondly, it acts as a powerful electric generator to recharge the battery pack, and thirdly as an electric engine-booster, working with the supercharger and turbocharger when extra power is needed, providing up to 150 Nm of extra torque.

The resulting fuel economy and carbon emissions, according to European plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) regulations, is world-beating – the XC90 T8 Twin Engine is able to consume from as little as 2.1-litres per 100 km and emit just 49 g/km CO2.

Charging made simple and easy

The XC90 T8 Twin Engine can be charged at any earthed, two-pin Schuko-type power outlet in South Africa, without the need for a costly charging station to be installed at the owner’s home or office. Should it be required, a Schuko adapter can be easily installed at very low cost by any certified electrician.

With a maximum current of 13 amperes, the supplied charging cable, transformer (230V AC to 400V DC) and connector is able to fully-charge the battery pack, from flat, in as little as three hours – conveniently short for a minimum of impact in the owner’s day-to-day activities. Adjustability on the transformer allows the owner to lower or raise the output, from 6 to 13 amps, depending on power consumption requirements – although even at full capacity, there is no noticeable impact on standard household electricity demand or output. At current electricity prices, a full charge costs as little as R20.

For added safety, the charge cable includes an integrated circuit breaker, temperature sensor and power monitor.

The charging port, located on the front left fender of the vehicle, is easy to operate and fitted with an LED indicator – supplemented by a charging status display in the car’s digital instrument cluster, which indicates the estimated remaining charge time. It also features a locking mechanism for the charge connector to ensure a tamper-proof charging environment.

Two-step braking system

The XC90 T8 Twin Engine’s blended braking system partly uses brake-by-wire technology to recover and transmit energy back into the car, either to recharge the battery or for immediate use. The system is also equipped with a unique stability function that controls the amount of energy that may be safely regenerated.

Unique cooling and climate system

The car’s unique cooling system is composed of two extra circuits. The first cools the CISG and the large electric motor on the rear axle, while the second cools the battery pack in one of two ways: either passively, via the radiator, or actively through integration with the car’s climate system.

SPA – allowing unparalleled practicality

All derivatives in the all-new Volvo XC90 range are built on the company’s ground-breaking Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, and as such the XC90 has been engineered for electrification from inception.

Unlike conventional hybrid vehicles whose batteries are usually located under the boot floor, the XC90 T8 Twin Engine’s 9.2 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack – consisting of 96 cells arranged in six modules – is located in the centre tunnel in an upright position. Not only does its position enhance handling by lowering the centre of gravity, it also means that the boot has not been compromised and that all seven seats remain in place – this is the only seven-seat PHEV in the world. Its central position is also optimal for crashworthiness, especially for side impacts.

Luggage and cargo space is never compromised, even with all seven seats in place – it ranges from 262- to 1 005 litres, remaining useable at any given moment.

Drive modes for all conditions

Pure. Hybrid. Power. These three main drive modes in the new XC90 T8 Twin Engine allow the driver to make use of the electrification as they desire. The stylised diamond-cut Drive Mode selector allows the driver to easily switch between modes at any time and at any speed.

Pure mode turns the XC90 T8 Twin Engine into a fully-fledged electric vehicle (EV), with ERAD employed full-time for zero emissions driving at speeds up to 125 km/h. The petrol engine remains off for completely silent running – but it’s still available at a moment’s notice should the driver require extra power, accessible by simply applying more force to the accelerator pedal.

Hybrid mode is the car’s default drive mode on start-up, and has been designed to maximise efficiency by maintaining an optimal balance between electric and petrol power. The transition between the two engines is seamless thanks to the CISG.

Power mode optimises the full power available from both engines for maximum acceleration and performance. The combined power output of 300 kW and 640 Nm is available alongside sharper throttle, steering and transmission response for a truly inspiring drive. Performance figures are astounding – the 0-100 km/h sprint is completed in just 5.6 seconds and top speed is 230 km/h.

Two supplementary drive modes are also available:

  • AWD mode forces both engines to run concurrently, enabling all-wheel drive. With ERAD providing all its power to the rear wheels only, the CISG is used to maintain charge in the battery pack at all times.
  • Off-road mode is an extension of AWD mode and assists the driver in tougher off-road conditions by engaging the standard Hill Descent Control system as well as an electronically-controlled limited slip differential, at speeds up to 40 km/h.

Accessible via the Hybrid System section within My Car settings, three battery management settings are also available which allow the driver to manage the consumption of electric energy according to their needs:

  • Normal is activated by default and allows the car to manage the integration of electric energy as determined by the main and supplementary drive modes.
  • Save allows the driver to ‘lock’ the battery’s charge level and store it for later use. While the vehicle will still use some electric power during start/stop traffic conditions and on pull-away, the battery level remains intact thanks to regenerative braking and power generated by the CISG. This works particularly well if the owner wants to drive on pure electric power at a specific point on their journey or in a particular environment.
  • Charge mode is on hand to partially recharge the battery when it is flat. Itlinks the integrated regenerative braking with a charging function provided by the petrol engine and CISG to charge the battery to a predetermined level – enough for around 15 km of pure electric driving.

Specialised instruments exclusive to Twin Engine

Exclusively available in the XC90 T8 Twin Engine, a specialised instrument readout relays information pertaining to battery level, power usage, and the balance between electric and petrol power. A battery charge indicator lies alongside the traditional fuel gauge, with electric range on display as well. Then, a classy power gauge replaces the conventional rev counter, showing current power usage for both the electric and petrol engines, the ‘change-over point’ at which the petrol engine will be activated, and the current drive mode. In Power, AWD and Off-road modes, this dial is converted into a rev counter.

Selecting gears is crystal clear

The centrepiece of the XC90 T8 Twin Engine’s interior is of course the Orrefors crystal gear selector. Hand-made in Sweden, the solid crystal gear selector requires a gentle push or pull to select transmission functions, with the park function activated by a push button.

Traditional reverse, neutral and drive transmission functions are on hand, with the added ‘brake mode’ also available to enhance regenerative charging abilities when the vehicle is coasting, by increasing resistance on the electric motor – simulating engine braking in the process.

At home on the urban commute – but still a great long-distance cruiser

With its pure electric range of up to 43 km combined with convenient and relatively quick charging capabilities, the XC90 T8 Twin Engine is perfectly at home in the city – and it’s been designed for the average daily commute. With its calm, silent drive and fuss-free charging setup, the daily drive becomes relaxing and enjoyable.

However, long-distance trips are of course no problem for XC90 Twin Engine owners – with the petrol engine and 50-litre fuel tank, the car is perfectly capable of undertaking a long trip in supreme comfort and with plenty of power on hand. Save mode even allows the driver to store available battery power for use at the destination, keeping fuel consumption down once the open road comes to an end.

Pricing

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD Momentum R1 053 400
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD Inscription R1 092 100
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design R1 117 700

As with all other Volvo models, the new XC90 T8 Twin Engine is available as standard with a 5-year/ 100 000 km warranty, a full 5-year/ 100 000 km Volvo Plan, Tracker Connect and laminated glass for added security.

Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Keep up with us on Pinterest Join our Google Plus circle Join us on Tumblr