UK Drive: The Volvo V90 Recharge T6 is a supreme plug-in hybrid estate car

Volvo adds another PHEV to its range in the form of the V90 T6, but how does it compete with a growing range of hybrid estate cars? Ted Welford finds

Volvo V90
Volvo V90

What is it?

Volvo V90
The V90 remains composed in the bends

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Volvo might be better known for its SUVs these days, but it certainly hasn’t forgotten about its roots, nor lost its ability to produce an excellent estate car, as the firm’s biggest V90 wagon has shown.

Arriving in 2016, the V90 instantly made Volvo estate cars cool, and meant that a BMW 5 Series Touring or Audi A6 Avant were no longer the default large estate car choices. And a large part of its appeal was the option of a powerful and efficient T8 plug-in hybrid, which at the time was the only PHEV option in this class.

But with a growing range of plug-in estate cars to choose from, is the updated V90 still the one to have?

What’s new?

Volvo V90
The V90 combines petrol and electric power

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To call this a facelift is a bit of exaggeration – this V90 update is as small as they come. Highlights include new full LED rear lights, a more advanced Bowers & Wilkin sound system (which is seriously impressive) and the usual new colours and wheels you get as part of these tweaks.

All petrol and diesel V90s – and Volvos in general for that matter – now come with mild-hybrid technology, but the car we’re testing here is the new T6 plug-in hybrid, which sits under Volvo’s recently-launched ‘Recharge’ nameplate that’s assigned to EVs and PHEVs.

What’s under the bonnet?

Volvo V90
Thanks to electrical assistance the V90 packs plenty of punch

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As part of this update, the T8 powertrain is no more on the V90, and in its place is the T6. Minus 50bhp, though, it’s exactly the same as the T8 – pairing a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and 11.6kWh battery to produce 335bhp and 590Nm of torque. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is used, while because the electric motor is on the rear axle, the T6 is also all-wheel-drive, which is something none of its rivals are.

But despite being down on the power on the T8, it feels 90 per cent as quick – 0-60mph coming along in 5.6 seconds. Top up the battery and there’s potential for a claimed 35 miles of electric range (expect up to 30 in the real-world), which allows for fuel economy figures of 134.5mpg, with CO2 emissions of 47g/km giving it a benefit-in-kind of just 10 per cent. A charge also takes three hours 15 minutes.

What’s it like to drive?

Volvo V90
The V90 is Volvo’s largest estate

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While this might be the quickest V90 and the one with the most power, it performs best when you treat it like the refined and relaxed cruiser it is.

Even in ‘sporty’ R-Design grade with a huge set of alloys, the ride remains impressively comfortable – only feeling a touch crashy over potholes – while class-leading refinement means the V90 just as happy to sit on motorways as it is to cruise around a city. The powertrain itself is also very smooth, with the switch from electric to petrol almost unnoticeable.

And while lacking the T8’s wow factor when you put your foot down, this T6 is more than powerful enough, and still delivers quite a performance surge if you need to carry out a quick overtake.

How does it look?

Volvo V90
A large boot helps to give the V90 the edge when it comes to practicality

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Looks will forever divide opinion, but we reckon few will disagree when we say the V90 remains one of the best-looking estate cars you can buy today. It’s a testament to Volvo’s current design that the V90 looks just as good now as when it was shown off for the first time four years ago.

From the sleek grille with the prominent Volvo logo through to the cool ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED lights, it’s a brilliant bit of design. The addition of new full-LED lights rear have also given it a more modern look, while a fresh set of colours and wheels means there’s enough to make your V90 stand out from the crowd.

What’s it like inside?

Volvo V90
The V90 features a large central screen

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The cabin of the V90 also wowed when it was shown off four years ago, with its well-integrated nine-inch portrait touchscreen, digital dials and minimalist design still remaining today. Given very little has changed on the cabin as part of this update, it’s starting to show its age, and lacks the more digitalised interiors you get in the Audi A6 or Mercedes E-Class. But it all still works well, and if it isn’t broken, there isn’t a need to fix it. The quality also remains first class.

The V90 also still scores on the spacious front, with a generous amount of rear room and a large 560-litre boot meaning it still excels at the task of being an estate car. The Audi A6 Avant and Mercedes E-Class Estate do have noticeably larger boots, though.

What’s the spec like?

Volvo V90
The Bang & Olufsen stereo provides an excellent sound

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Regardless of the V90 you go for you won’t feel short-changed when it comes to standard kit. All models get keyless start, LED headlights, digital dials and leather upholstery to name but a few features.

If you go for the T6 hybrid, you’re limited to either a sportier-looking R-Design, which gains a black bodykit and larger wheels or a luxurious Inscription trim – this coming with the likes of a crystal gear lever and massaging seats.

And all this luxury and kit certainly doesn’t come cheap, with the V90 T6 costing from £55,305, even before you tick a few options boxes. It’s a huge amount of money, but is quite well-priced, especially next to the less powerful and thirstier B6 petrol model, which is only a couple of thousand pounds cheaper.

Verdict

Volvo already knew how to make a superb estate car, and this updated V90 only emphasises this further. If you value comfort, a plush interior and refinement, there’s not much that can beat it.

This new T6 plug-in hybrid powertrain is also a superb fit for the V90, and adds even greater refinement, along with brilliant performance and the possibility of lower running costs. It’s certainly not cheap, but some things in life are just worth paying. This Volvo feels like one of them.

  • Model: Volvo V90 Recharge T6 AWD R-Design
  • Price: £55,305
  • Engine: 2.0-litre petrol mated to electric motor and battery
  • Power: 335bhp
  • Torque: 590Nm
  • Max speed: 112mph
  • 0-60mph: 5.6 seconds
  • MPG: 104.6-134.5mpg
  • Emissions: 47-61g/km CO2
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