From the moment the Volvo XC60 arrived in showrooms for the 2010 model year, it took over as one of the best-selling models in the Swedish carmaker’s portfolio. In fact, with the occasional exception of the S60 out-selling the compact crossover, it regularly accounted for a quarter to a third of all new deliveries in Canada.
This second generation XC60 will capitalize on the success of the first as it brings much more to the table. Nowhere is this more evident than with the tested Inscription T8 model. This ultimate edition of the popular crossover not only combines unique-to-Volvo design elements and safety but a plethora of technologies meant to illustrate that performance is an all-encompassing term.
T8 vs. T6, part 1
For $72,000, Volvo will hand over the keys to the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the XC60 in its top-line Inscription trim. The focus behind this powertrain trim, from Volvo’s perspective, is fuel economy, but the real reason is outright power.
The claimed fuel consumption rating for the XC60 T8 is a combined average of 9.4L/100km. By comparison, the Inscription T6 starts at $58,000, and it will return roughly 10.2L/100km. The $14,000 price jump between the two is something I have a hard time digesting. Even with the QC government rebate of $4,000 ($2,500 in BC), $10k remains a steep increase.
T8 vs. T6, part 2
Both versions are motivated by a twin-charged turbo and supercharged 2.0-litre inline-4. The T6 goes for 316-horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. These numbers apply to the T8 except that it also gains an 87-horsepower electric motor, which when all is combined, tallies up to 400-horsepower and 472 lb.-ft. of torque.
The electric motor is fed by a 10.4 kWh battery that provides about 27 kilometers of EV range and aids the T8 in reaching 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds compared to about 6 seconds for the T6. Much of the data here lies in the fact that a plug-in hybrid is, in my humble opinion, modern-day snake oil. Consider how far you’ll have to drive in EV mode before the minimal $10k premium pays itself off.
Driving the T8 has turned out to be less fun than I thought. Much of it comes from the brakes which, when the powertrains switch from one to another, go from grabby to requiring more pressure to come to a stop. This is an issue when cruising from stoplight to stoplight, or in traffic. There are no such issues with the T6.
T8 vs. T6, part 3
You’d think that I dislike the Volvo XC60 but the truth is, I love it. Last year, I reviewed a T6 R-Design which proved to be a wonderful driver, and family companion. The power question is moot and while the T8 shoves driver and passengers deeper into their seat when the throttle drops, it’s otherwise pointless. The T8 blurs the lines between wanting to be a BMW X3 M40i fighter and a green vehicle but unfortunately, manages to do nether job well. The X3 M40i and the XC60 T8 returned very similar fuel averages in the 10s.
I’d spec a T6 Inscription and pay for the $2,350 premium for the optional 4-Corner Air Suspension w/ Four-C Active Chassis. It manages comfort and dynamism through the various drive modes and proves to be versatile for the daily grind.
The price of T8
There’s no need to once more go over a Volvo crossover’s exterior shell – they’re all unique and incredibly handsome. The same could go for the cabin except I discovered some unfortunate bugs with my $85,000 tested T8.
$85k? Yes. I’ve said, pricing starts at $72k, and if you add the Convenience, Climate and Vision packages, the Bower & Wilkins Premium Sound system and air suspension, you hit $85k. Obviously, as luxury SUVs go, the XC60 is just about tops.
So, about the bug. As temperatures begin hovering near the freezing point, I’ve noticed the otherwise gorgeous and intuitive 12.3-inch touchscreen got slower to load and activate by the day. To say this is frustrating is a massive understatement. A few weeks ago, I reviewed an XC90 T6 and despite the presence of snow in the video, the average exterior temperature was 3 or 4 degrees higher – the XC90’s screen did not suffer the same delays.
Beyond the irritation caused by requesting something from the screen (audio, HVAC, navigation, and so on) and waiting up to 15 seconds for a response, being aboard the XC60 is otherwise for the soul.
The seats are incredible, the selection of materials and high-end presentation are worthy of supreme luxury vehicles. The rear bench is roomy, the trunk is spacious and peace and quiet reign onboard, when the kids are sleeping.
T8 vs. T6: T6 wins
In the end, the Volvo XC60 is a brilliant vehicle. My single piece of advice is stay away from the T8 eAWD plug-in hybrid.