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In-depth reviews

Volvo XC60 Recharge hybrid - Engines, drive and performance

The handling doesn’t make the most of the powerful engines

Carbuyer Rating

3.8 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

Driving the Volvo XC60 Recharge hybrid quickly is like trying to dance to Beethoven – it’s possible, but it doesn’t feel natural.

While some plug-in hybrid SUVs, like the BMW X3 xDrive 30e and Jaguar F-Pace P400e, are designed to offer a sharp, car-like driving experience, the XC60 does things differently. It’s a comfortable SUV with supportive seats, light steering and soft suspension, designed to deliver you to your destination feeling rested and relaxed. The problem is, that actually makes the powerful T8 version seem somewhat unnecessary. The XC60 Recharge is best to drive in ‘Pure’ EV mode, where it glides along silently and comfortably.

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At a faster pace the XC60 isn’t bad to drive by any stretch of the imagination, but make use of all that power on winding roads and you’ll wish the steering would provide more feedback and that the body wouldn’t wobble about so much. Its ride is impressive at speed on the motorway, and the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist systems mean it’s absolutely effortless to drive – when the engine kicks in in these circumstances, however, we found the Range Rover Velar P400e’s engine transmitted slightly less vibration in comparison.

The brakes have no issue slowing the XC60 Recharge: they can be a little grabby at low speed, but when driving quickly they’re most effective, stopping the XC60 with greater authority than its two-tonne weight would suggest they should. Turn off the ‘creep’ mode, which allows to car to roll forward slowly when you let off the brake, and activate the regenerative braking system and you effectively have a one-pedal drive drive mode that does a good job of mimicking that of a full EV.

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The XC60 Recharge is slightly different from a conventional automatic, with a sprung gearlever toggle that always returns to its central position – unlike a traditional automatic box that stays in position when you select drive, park or reverse.

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That means if you’re in Drive and want to go into reverse, you only need to push it forward once to select Reverse, with very little effort. This is no hardship, but it’s worth noting you can’t tell what drive mode is selected just by checking where the lever physically is, as it always rests in the same position – you need to look at the telltale R, N, and D letters displayed in the instrument panel. We found this easy most of the time, only getting caught out and needing to pay extra attention if trying to perform a quick U-turn.

Volvo XC60 Recharge hybrid engine

Both versions of the XC60 Recharge are powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine with a turbocharger that sends power to the front wheels. Both also get an electric motor driving the rear wheels, powered by an 18.8kWh (14.7kWh usable) lithium battery. Previous versions were also supercharged, but this was removed for the 2022 model year.

In T6 guise, the petrol/electric powertrain produces 345bhp and manages 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds. Opt for the standard T8 and power increases to an impressive 449bhp, with 0-62mph taking 4.9 seconds. This is a time that makes it quicker than hot hatchbacks like the Honda Civic Type R and Renault Megane RS.

On the road, the four-cylinder engine naturally lacks a V6 rasp or V8 grumble, meaning it doesn’t feel as quick as it actually is, but the power definitely makes itself felt when joining motorways and overtaking. Overall, the XC60 Recharge is a very quiet and civilised car to drive, and when it does kick in on heavy acceleration, the engine sounds good for a four-cylinder, and gives a distinctive aural character, despite having lost the supercharger whine from before.

Once up to speed, the XC60 Recharge is an accomplished, quiet and relaxed cruiser, aided by semi-autonomous systems such as adaptive cruise control (which will follow the car in front) and Pilot Assist that are intuitive to use. This last item will automatically keep the car in its lane and even steer around gentle corners when certain criteria are met – you need to keep at least one hand on the wheel and be ready to take over at any time.

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Charlie writes and edits news, review and advice articles for Carbuyer, as well as publishing content to its social media platforms. He has also been a regular contributor to its sister titles Auto Express, DrivingElectric and evo. As well as being consumed by everything automotive, Charlie is a speaker of five languages and once lived in Chile, Siberia and the Czech Republic, returning to the UK to write about his life-long passion: cars.

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