Does “eco-friendly” mean slow?
A decade ago, it did. Opting for a hybrid vehicle meant trading performance for outright efficiency.
Today, that’s no longer the case. “Mean and green” doesn’t only apply to Porsche’s hybrids. BMW and Mercedes-Benz have been producing such models, too.
And with the latest XC60 Recharge and S60 Recharge models, Volvo wants to prove that it, too, has compelling offerings.
A MEAN & GREEN VOLVO
Most drivers will probably think that Volvos can be green but not mean. These Recharge models are going to challenge, if not change, that impression.
The XC60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid (what a mouthful) is the most powerful Volvo SUV in Singapore.
Its drivetrain consists of a turbocharged and supercharged 2-litre inline-4 paired to an electric motor. The petrol engine delivers 315hp and 400Nm, while the electric motor produces 87hp and 240Nm.
Their combined output is an eye-opening 402hp and 640Nm. If you’re in a hurry, you’ll love that it can do 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds.
That’s staggering, considering the Volvo XC60 Recharge weighs 2127kg, or 207kg more than an XC60 T6.
Now, how efficient can a 2.1-tonne SUV be? According to Volvo, the hybrid drivetrain can manage up to 45.5km per litre.
Over three days of driving, I averaged 8.7km per litre – a fraction of that. But before you say it’s terrible, let me explain.
Achieving a fuel economy figure of over 20km/L is totally possible. But first, you’ll need to ensure that the Volvo XC60 Recharge’s lithium-ion battery has plenty of charge.
With enough juice, the Volvo XC60 Recharge will run mostly on electric power alone. That means zero emissions and zero noise.
Indeed, I easily averaged 23.8km/L during city driving. In mixed conditions with some expressway cruising, I averaged 16.1km/L. Again, that’s impressive for a 2.1-tonne, 402hp SUV.
The Volvo XC60 Recharge’s drivetrain is both its greatest strength and weakness.
It delivers excellent fuel efficiency you expect. But it can also cause you to harm the environment instead of helping to save it.
That’s because there is only one word that describes the Volvo XC60 Recharge’s acceleration: Effortless.
It does not take much to send this SUV hurtling towards the horizon. Depress the accelerator pedal a quarter or third of the way down, and the scenery is soon whizzing by in an alarming blur.
This will happen in relative silence. And all the other cars on the road will look like they’re being driven in reverse.
The mid-range performance is equally stupendous. You must be careful when accelerating from 70km/h to 90km/h. Fail to ease off the throttle pedal in time and you’ll end up doing 120km/h (or more).
The issue with all this speed is that you spend more time on the brakes than the accelerator. Especially if your chosen Drive mode setting is “Power”.
Power is just one of the six modes in the Volvo XC60 Recharge. There’s also Constant AWD, Pure, Hybrid, Individual and Off-Road.
Constant AWD and Off-Road are unlikely to be utilised here. The former is for very slippery or snowy conditions, while the latter is for off-road use.
Selecting Pure lets the Volvo XC60 Recharge run in pure electric mode. Individual enables you to customise various settings to suit your driving style.
Hybrid is best for everyday use. In my experience, it also meant less use of the brake pedal.
The Volvo XC60 Recharge is also the Volvo with the comfiest ride quality. Most of the other models have a firmness to them, but not this one. It’s smooth sailing, all the way.
There is plenty of grip, too, thanks to the unique all-wheel-drive system. The petrol engine powers the front axle, while the rear is driven by the electric motor. This function is called ERAD (Electric Rear Axle Drive).
But when it comes to outright handling, the Volvo XC60 Recharge feels like a barge. Gentle sweeping corners are okay. Throw it into a tight bend and it feels like a ship crashing into a big wave.
There’s lots of lean and some bouncing. This can be minimised by choosing the “Power” setting to firm up the dampers. But push hard and the Volvo XC60 Recharge will still run wide.
SHOULD YOU BUY ONE?
If you’re looking for a very comfortable, refined and effortless SUV, you need to test-drive this contender. The Volvo XC60 Recharge’s efficiency can also save you quite a bit of petrol, if you’re disciplined.
Trouble is, the temptation to exploit this seriously quick SUV going to be very hard to resist.
Volvo XC60 T8 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid 2.0 (A)
ENGINE 1969cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged and supercharged, hybrid
MAX POWER 315hp at 5700rpm
MAX TORQUE 400Nm at 2200-5400rpm
ELECTRIC MOTOR POWER 87hp at 7000rpm
ELECTRIC MOTOR TORQUE 240Nm at 3000rpm
TOTAL SYSTEM POWER 402hp
TOTAL SYSTEM TORQUE 640Nm
POWER TO WEIGHT 189hp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 5.3 seconds
TOP SPEED 230km/h
CONSUMPTION 45.5km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE $290,000 (after $10k VES rebate)
AGENT Wearnes Automotive