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First Drive: Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription Pro

Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine Inscription Pro
The story: Volvo’s fourth and fifth plug-in hybrids are the V90 and its S90 saloon sibling, joining the V60, XC60 and XC90 T8 models.
Key rival:Volkswagen Passat GTE
On sale:Now


Volvo is heading down a route of having a plug-in version of each of its new cars from 2019, and another step on that path is the new V90 T8, the firm’s new plug-in hybrid version of its executive estate.

There’s an S80 saloon version coming at the same time (see issue 24 of Company Car Today for a review), adding to the existing XC60 and XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid models, and the V60 Twin Engine that will be replaced when an all-new V60 arrives late this year.

The key stats for the V90 are that it has an emissions figure of 46g/km, an official electric-only range of around 28 miles and it develops 320hp. Oh, and it costs just under £60,000. Which is handy, because that’s the boundary for the current £2,500 ultra low-emission vehicle discount, which shaves a bit off a big asking price, when you consider that a 190hp D4 diesel in the same R-Design Pro or Inscription specification choices will cost the best part of £17,000 less. And that engine’s 119g/km emissions figure isn’t exactly inefficient.2018 Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine PHEV - Image 5

With all plug-in hybrids, the equation should always be about usage patterns and whether the car will spend enough time doing around 30 miles between charges to make the numbers stand up for fleet and driver. The irrelevant official 141.2mpg figure will be easy to beat if the car mainly does 20-ish miles and can be charged at home and work, but you’re looking at well below 40mpg if it never sees a charging cable.

To drive, the V90 suffers from a long brake pedal and snatchy brakes, which isn’t a great combination, but is otherwise rapid and refined, and offers that relaxing feeling of driving around in silence. There are four driving modes – hybrid, pure electric, power mode and all-wheel drive – with hybrid being the sensible one for slightly longer runs because it combines the battery and the 2.0-litre petrol engine where required. Pure is better for short-range trips because it uses just the battery.2018 Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine PHEV - Image 1


The verdict

The V90 is well equipped, handsome and works well as a PHEV when journey patterns suit. However, it is very expensive, so drivers will need to make sure their usage will eventually pay back that big outlay in saved fuel.