With PHEV and EV technology rapidly developing, is the somewhat aged Volvo S60 T8 still game? Let’s find out!

It seems somewhat cruel that when a manufacturer launches a PHEV or EV, that it ages so rapidly. Look back 10 years and Volvo was running a diesel PHEV, only to drop diesel a few years later. Fast forward 3 years and Volvo launched the S60 PHEVs. The S60 T8 is the most powerful version of the lineup, which also carries the largest battery pack. Compare that battery and the way it charges to its younger competitors, and you can see that that the battery is relatively small and that it doesn’t allow faster charging as the younger ones do.

Newbie

I’ll have to confess that I’m not that experienced with all the cables from electric vehicles yet. And showed when I wanted to charge the battery. I had the wrong cable. I didn’t ask Volvo what cable I was getting and they didn’t tell me it was a CEE plug. That plug is one you will most probably recognize from camping trips. For me, it will forever be related to testing this car. Why? Well, I decided to see if I could find an alternative in the week with the Volvo S60 T8. I also tried to get access to a CEE plug anywhere close to home. These plugs aren’t exactly easy to find, nor is it easy lending a two-way phase II cable anywhere. I found that not only me but also the world hadn’t had that much encounters with PHEVs. Long story short: I managed to charge the S60 at a FastNed station, as they had a Phase II plug. I could only conclude at that point, that taking the S60 out of its daily commute most definitely meant no recharging for me.

T8? Like T-Pain the rapper?

Volvo created quite a technically intriguing car with the S60 T8. It uses an ICE (internal combustion engine) that has a turbo and supercharger working together. In that form, the 2-liter petrol engine pushes out 303 horsepower and 400 Nm to the front wheels. Aided by 87 horsepower and 240 Nm from the electric engine that is mounted on the rear axle. Note that these numbers, 390 horsepower and 640 Nm, are only achieved when you put the S60 in ‘Sport’ mode. Due to this engine layout, there’s no transmission tunnel running through the length of the car. This gives enough space to house the 11,6 kWh battery (which would have been brilliant if it could house twice that amount). The way the Volvo S60 T8 is built, it offers a low center of gravity and a massive amount of mechanical grip. That not only comes from the wide tires and AWD but also from the near two metric tonnes of weight pressing the car down. It all adds up to some of the best bits of both worlds. When talking about EVs en ICEs, you’re getting the range of ICE and the emission-free kilometers of the battery-powered drivetrain. At least, that’s the idea.

Driving the S60 T8

How does the idea Volvo has of a PHEV translate into driving? Ohh, like a gem! Driving the Volvo S60 T8 didn’t have me stressed (after I found the charging solution) one bit. The car houses different personalities and moving through gem works sublimely, just like any other function in this car really. It can be extremely easy-going in comfort, yet it can also force death cries out of your occupants. So on the way to work you cocoon yourself in silence and high-quality materials, not-too-stiff damping, with a gentle buzz coming from the electric engine is the loudest noise you hear. On the way back you switch to ‘Sport’ and the S60 turns the entire drivetrain into full assault mode, giving tremendous straight-line speed. I managed to hit a hundred in 4.8 seconds, marginally slower than the 4.6 Volvo claims. In that mode, the car offers more communicative feedback in terms of steering and body control but it sadly can’t hide its weight when entering corners.

Being relatively small, the 11,6 kWh battery in the Volvo S60 T8 only got me 32 kilometers far. For me, living outside the city, using the battery straight away makes no sense. EV drivetrain excels in cities and not on highways, so Volvo hooked the car’s brain up to the navigation. And at that point, it can determine where the electricity is best used. You can even manually choose to save the battery, say if you know the last 25 kilometers of your commute are in traffic and the city. A more analog approach, but effective. Not charging at all gave an overall consumption of 7.1L/100km, charging as a ‘good boy’ gave me 5.1L/100km of consumption. An impressive feat, especially when you take the weight of this car into account.

Impressive interior, sexy exterior

Being impressed by the Volvo happened to me on several occasions. It had me with the fun and effective drivetrain, but it also had me in terms of built quality on the in and outside. Hell, it even had me impressed by how easy it was to fit into the trunk. Residing in this berline shaped car is no punishment (I mean the cabin here), the materials are on point for quality and finish. Everything you touch feels of quality and seems to work like you’ve known it your whole life. I’m seriously impressed by how intuitive Volvo has made the infotainment, but also the Autopilot function and any other driving aid. The R-Design seats didn’t do it for me though, they were simply to firm for my liking.

On the inside, it treats you to a rather minimalistic design, where the exterior is far more pronounced. Sharp lines, again aided by the R-Design package, and clean light-units make the S60 one of the best-looking sedans out there right now. As you might notice from the images I shot, the rear had me the.

Summary

Volvo and their S60 T8 are still, even with it being relatively old, a very serious player in the world of PHEVs. Cheaper than the competition (like the Mercedes-Benz E300de we tested), yet as good, the S60 T8 seems to be the car for those who feel flattered by Swedish Premium and by Swedish Design. It is a car for those who can charge at home or at work (who get a two-way phase II cable). The car might not be the fastest charging or have the maximum electric range, but it definitely is one of the most appealing cars overall. It made me dream about what Volvo will bring us in the future, and wonder how will work alongside cars like the Polestar II (review here).

Whether or not the Volvo S60 T8 is a car you should check out, sadly depends on emission regulations. Those rules have made the car disappear from the Dutch market, while still being available in Belgium. It’s only an attractive lease option if you’re optioning it correctly, but dealers will guide you in the right way. Just putting down the 60k cash for a PHEV in this segment? Then you’d be a fool not to give this car serious consideration.

Some facts

Power390 horsepower and 640 Nm
Weight1960 kilograms
Size4761 mm (l) x 1850 mm (w) x 1431 mm (h)
Battery11.6 kWh
NEDC39 g/km
Trunk Check, I fit!