Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid Review
Electric Kilometric

Words and Photos by Clifford Chow
11 Aug 2021

This brainful moment aside, the T8 overall delivers a comfortable driving experience, and the interior is well insulated from external noise...

Perhaps the idea of going green hits home even more for some of us today, than say... 20 years ago. Car manufacturers are already adding more electrified vehicles to their lineups, and we can find something for almost everyone.

Volvo has gone on to pledge that they would phase out all cars with internal combustion engines by the year 2030, inclusive of hybrid vehicles. As a start we can already see a range of PHEVs within their range of cars here. 

Volvo’s flagship SUV, the XC90 is the oldest of their current lineup, and it is now offered as a plug-in hybrid. Key styling elements, like the diagonal bar across the grille and Thor’s Hammer headlights lend to the SUV’s imposing road presence; and by far, it is to me one of the prettier looking midsize luxury SUVs out there.


The Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge in Singapore, is only offered in the brand’s premium ‘Inscription’ trim, meaning that you get goodies like a panoramic sunroof which helps let in more light into the cabin, and a really cool crystal gear selector among a few of its premium features. One of the interior quirks I do appreciate is the placement of the wireless mobile phone charger (part of the Inscription package) located within the centre console. While this would be the most logical place to have it installed, I do like how you can have the larger roller door push up against one of the long ends of your phone, making sure that it would not move about while in transit. This is probably not the original intent, but it really is a pleasant thing to have. 

While I love how Volvo has stitched a leather interior which is difficult to top, there are some signs that the car is beginning to show its age; in like in how the infotainment and central air-conditioning vent cluster seems to sit a little forlorn on the dash, especially without the sweeping decorative bar that meanders below the screen, which is seen on the rest of their range, like in the XC60, S60 Sedan and V60 Estate. The air-conditioning vents also do not have the fancy knurled jewel closing knobs that are common across the current Volvo lineup, instead, you get more conventional roller vent closers.

Design hits and misses aside, the XC90 T8 Recharge has plenty to give. The front seats which are contoured, offer plenty of comfort for longer drives, and they are also ventilated. The middle row, even with the third deployed, offers decent legroom. The 9.1kWh battery which is located within the transmission tunnel however, produces an awkward service hatch that protrudes into the cabin, and this means lesser legroom for the poor person who chooses to sit in the middle row.

The Drive

The Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge relies on the same super and turbocharged 2.0 as the petrol T6, and gets an additional boost from an electric motor. Together, the hybrid drive system produces 402hp and 640Nm, which sounds like a lot, and Volvo claims an impressive 5.6 second century sprint for their largest SUV. Punching down the throttle hard reveals a heavier vehicle compared to the petrol variant. The battery, combined with the electric drive components, adds another 200kg to the car. Under hard acceleration, the four cylinder will make it known that it prefers not to be worked, and somehow the flagship SUV does not seem as quick as it claims to be. 

The T8 Recharge is not built for outright high performance. It is more at home getting you to your destination effortlessly and rather cheaply. While I managed only 36km driving with just the battery, due to my heavier right foot; according to Volvo, it is designed to yield about 50km on one charge...

And I can see where this is going...

If you were to purchase the T8, and have the means to charge it in your own home, you could essentially drive the car most days almost without using the engine, since the distance we would cover per day on average is around 55km (based on a 20k yearly mileage). Volvo’s claim of almost 44km/l could be quite true, provided your battery is on a full charge when you begin your day (hence having the means to charge it from home). Without a charged battery, the PHEV Volvo will perform more like its petrol engined T6 sibling, but with the added weight of the battery and EV drivetrain, it will guzzle more.

This brainful moment aside, the T8 overall delivers a comfortable driving experience, and the interior is well insulated from external noises. Also, the added weight seems to have a positive effect, helping the SUV “steamroll” over rougher patches. The AWD system ensures a car that handles in a neutral fashion, meaning that it is very predictable, even when driven a little harder.

Our Thoughts

To truly reap the benefits of the XC90 T8, you have to rely on the electric drivetrain to ensure lower running costs. If you are one who has easy access to charging stations, including your very own, and could use the versatility and people-moving qualities of the XC90; this could be quite an enjoyable ownership experience… but also an expensive one.

There are also other luxurious ways to transport up-to seven around. For example, the EQ Boosted Mercedes-Benz GLE, the BMW X5 (which is also available as a PHEV), and the recently updated Audi Q7, now equipped with MHEV tech.

In Summary

We Like

Refinement. Comfort. Good fuel consumption numbers when the battery is charged. Nifty boot organiser.

We Don't

Fuel hungry once the battery is dry due to its weight. Expensive. Dashboard beginning to look a little dated.


In truth the Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge is more of a pricey statement, rather than a car that will save the planet. But it still has many merits.

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SGD 400,000 (23 Jul 2021)

This car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

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Engine Capacity 1969cc TurbochargedSupercharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10.8:1
Power 402bhp @ 5700rpm
Torque 640Nm @ 2200rpm
Power to Weight 174 bhp per ton


Acceleration 5.6s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 180 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 43.5 km/L
Drag Coefficient 0.330

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto
Drive Type F4
Steering Electric


Body Type SUV
(L x W x H)
(4950 x 2140 x 1776) mm
Wheelbase 2984 mm
Turning Circle 11.8 metres
Kerb Weight 2311 kg
Boot Capacity 316 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 70 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs