When it takes more than 10 years to redesign a vehicle, there had better be enough changes involved to make it worth the wait. With the 2016 Volvo XC90, the Volvo design team has put more than enough into the redesign to not disappoint.
The XC90 T8 is the first Volvo designed from the ground up for plug-in/electrification compatibility, and based on information released by Volvo, will deliver all the performance of a luxury SUV, but with emission levels that even small hybrid cars struggle to match.
Using Volvo’s new modular Scalable Product Architecture platform and successful Drive-E gasoline powertrain, the company has created a 7-seat SUV that delivers 400 horsepower and 472 pounds-feet of torque, combined with ultra-low emissions 95 g/mile (59g/km) and (2.5 l/100km). The fuel economy according to EPA testing protocols is 59 MPGe.
“The XC90 T8 is a plug-in electric car, hybrid car and high-performance car rolled into one,” says Dr Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Group. “The Drive-E engines already offer highly competitive performance versus the competition. The T8 takes it further into a leading position.”
The new XC90 T8 according to Volvo will go from 0 to 62 mph (100 kph) in 5.9 seconds which is pretty quick for a 2.5-ton vehicle. This also would make it faster by almost a second than its T6 non-hybrid stablemate.
Drivers of the XC90 T8 will have five driving modes to choose from which can be accessed using either a scroll wheel on the centre console, or a touchscreen on the dashboard.
Hybrid: This is the default mode, suitable for everyday use. Here, the vehicle will automatically alternate between drawing power from the 2-liter, 4-cylinder Drive-E engine and the electric motor to deliver the best overall fuel consumption.
Pure electric: In this mode, when the high-voltage battery is fully charged, it serves as the car’s sole energy source, powering the electric motor over the rear axle. The XC90 T8 has a range of more than 40km using just electricity. If more power is needed, the Drive-E combustion engine starts up automatically.
Power mode: Here, drivers get the combined performance of the combustion engine and the electric motor. On start-up, the SUV takes advantage of the electric motor’s superior response and instant torque curve, while the combustion engine gets up to speed. This combination offers better torque at lower revs, and would be comparable to that of a large displacement V8.
AWD: This mode offers constant all-wheel drive on demand. The advantage of being able to select AWD manually is that the driver can use it when needed, or choose to save energy for later.
Save: If the battery is charged, this mode allows the driver to “freeze” the battery level and save it for later use with Pure Electric drive. On the other hand, if the battery is low, the driver can use the combustion engine to charge the battery to a certain level for later use with Pure Electric drive.
Under the hood of the XC90 T8 will be a specially modified version of the four-cylinder Drive-E gasoline engine. The engine is enhanced by both a supercharger and a turbocharger for a total power output of 318hp.
Sitting on the rear axle will be an electric motor that delivers 82 horsepower and drives the back wheels in electric and power-boost modes. The rear placement is significant because it allows for a larger motor, which is useful for following stop-and-go city traffic rhythms. This placement also makes efficient all-wheel drive possible because each axle has its own power source.
Housed centrally in the tunnel of the car will be the battery, capable of delivering 65 kw/h of power. The location of the battery means interior space won’t be impeded and that 3 rows of seats with cargo room will be easy to achieve, unlike the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV which needed to remove its 3rd row to accommodate the battery. A center placement will also offer a low centre of gravity, which helps with handling and safety.
The XC90 T8 will feature an 8-speed automatic transmission that has been specially adapted for the hybrid, and uses shift-by-wire technology allowing drivers to control the transmission electrically.
The new XC90 T8 is expected to arrive in dealerships during the first quarter of 2015.