While we were in Belgium driving the new C40 Recharge, we were given a unique opportunity to check out Volvo’s updated plug-in hybrid powertrain coming soon to T8 models in the United States.
The updated battery pack is now 18.8 kWh with 14.9 kWh usable. The new pack size makes it eligible for the full $7,500 federal tax credit when it goes on sale next year.
Combined with updated motors, including the rear motor from the C40, power is increased to a combined 455 horsepower and a combined 523 lb-ft of torque.
In the new car, selecting Pure from the drive mode selector will run the car in full EV mode for as long as possible. Under WLTP, that means 55 kilometers of range. While we find WLTP rather generous, we were actually surprised with our real-world range. But more on that later.
When you are in Pure mode, only if you press your foot all the way to the floor with the petrol engine kick in. The increased battery power and more powerful electric motor means you can drive the car normally under electricity, including overtaking on the motorway, effortlessly.
To put that to the test, Volvo sent us out on a loop on the motorways surrounding Brussels. The extra grunt it noticeable in hybrid mode, but what’s more impressive is how much power you have when in full EV mode. At no point did I need to put my foot all the way to the floor to get the extra oomph from the gasoline engine. Merging with traffic was easy. Reaching the posted 120 km/h speed limit was effortless. This new Volvo behaves so much more like a dedicated electric vehicle than the previous model did.
I ended up driving 61 kilometers in my very unscientific highway test, and the gasoline engine only kicked on for the last kilometer or so of driving. So it was easy to hit the WLTP number driving mostly highway. Impressive.
While it won’t be a direct conversion to miles, 55 kilometers of range would be about 34 miles. That’s immensely more usable for the day to day than the previous range of 19 miles per the EPA.
The updated XC60 also features Google’s Android Automotive based infotainment system, and the Bowers and Wilkins premium audio retains its Gothenburg theater mode.
My time with the car was brief, but if this new powertrain is as good as it is in Europe when it gets to North America — and it should be — it makes the T8 upgrade extremely compelling and a solid reason to pay the premium for the upgrade.