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Volvo XC90 T8 road test | efficiency boost for flagship plug-in

"Once the 2.0-litre petrol engine fires up, fuel economy falls quickly."

6 Volvo XC90 T8 R Design
BIK List Price
Volvo XC90 BIK list price
BIK Percentage
Volvo XC90 BIK Percent
Volvo XC90 CO2
Combined MPG
113.0 (WLTP)
Volvo XC90 MPG


Having spawned an entire model range of high-tech new Volvos after its launch in 2015, the XC90 has received a mild update for 2020.

The visual revisions have been kept to a minimum, so there’s little more than a new grille, colours and wheel choices.

It is still an attractive SUV and easily as modern-looking as any of its rivals.

By designing the car from the ground up to be a hybrid, Volvo has managed to package the battery pack and two powertrains neatly within the chassis – optimising weight distribution and passenger space.

Versions with air suspension (a £2,150 option) have a more gracious ride, complementing the comfortable seats and overall relaxing ambiance of the interior.

The flagship T8 plug-in hybrid, which we’re testing here, gains a larger battery for better efficiency.

Volvo says the updated model is 15% more efficient, with a claimed fuel consumption of 94.2mpg.

In reality, that figure will be difficult to achieve by anyone that travels more than around 15 miles at a time. A full charge registers around 22 miles of range (Volvo claims 25 miles is acheiveable), but travel at higher speeds and it dips rapidly.

Once the 2.0-litre petrol engine fires up, fuel economy falls quickly too. While it doesn’t match the claimed numbers, our achievement of 30mpg over 400 miles – from a large seven-seat all-wheel-drive SUV – isn’t too bad.

With CO2 emissions of 66g/km (WLTP) the XC90 T8 falls into the 16% BIK band for 2020/21, meaning higher rate taxpayers will only have to fork out about £350 per month to run one.

A combined power output of 390PS gives a mighty turn of speed when requested, but the power delivery is hampered by a sluggish transmission. It doesn’t move with the heft of a big V6 diesel, but, considering the tax breaks available, drivers would be mad not to take a look.

Specification shown for Volvo XC90 T8 R Design

Top Speed
Volvo XC90 Top Speed
VED band
Volvo XC90 Ved
Fuel Type
Petrol Hybrid
Volvo XC90 Fuel Type
Residual Value
3 Year 60k : N/A
4 Year 80k : N/A
Running Cost (ppm)
3 Year 60k : N/A
4 Year 80k : N/A

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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