Volvo XC90 Recharge T8 Plug-in hybrid
Volvo must adapt to survive as an independent car maker. Proof of that has been delivered by this model, now usefully improved, the XC90 Recharge T8 Plug-in hybrid. It’s a family-sized luxury seven-seat SUV for a very different world. What if you could take the conventional Volvo XC90 T6 petrol model’s very efficient turbocharged and supercharged 303hp 2.0-litre petrol engine – then mate it to plug-in hybrid technology that included an 87hp electric motor driving the rear wheels? You’d have the world’s most powerful and cleanest SUV. More specifically, you’d have the most desirable variant in the XC90 range. As with any plug-in hybrid, this car offers the option of charging from mains power. Owners will be able to buy a wall box from Volvo that will charge their cars on 16-amp power in about two and a half hours. Volvo seems to be flourishing under foreign ownership and this Recharge T8 Plug-in hybrid XC90 model is a good example of why. What we’ve been given here is a return to Swedish charisma and an emphasis on all the things that the brand does best – cool restrained style, real-world practicality, and class-leading safety.
The 530e is the petrol-electric plug-in hybrid version of BMW’s hugely successful 5 Series model. With 252hp on tap, yet able to return up to 201.8mpg, it may prove to be the perfect choice for some executive-level company buyers. Retaining all the luxury of the standard car, but packed with clever electrified technology, the 530e falls under BMW’s iPerformance banner, which brought us the i3 and i8.
Enthusiasts have bemoaned the fact that BMW’s traditionally perfect 50:50 weight distribution has been lost with this car. Here, it’s actually 47% front and 53% rear instead. That of course is down to the unusual mechanicals, a 182bhp four cylinder 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine mated to a 111bhp electric motor powered by a 9.2kWh battery pack under the rear seats and drives through the usual 8-speed automatic gearbox. There’s an energy management system that ensures a seamlessly and efficient transition between the petrol and electric motors. Most of the time, you’ll be driving the car in its ‘Auto eDrive’ mode which sorts out the ratio of electrified or fuel-driven motoring. If you want to keep things in electric mode, there’s a ‘Max eDrive’ mode option. If you’ve a short daily commute, there’s real appeal in the thought that if you get your charging regime right, you should rarely have to ever visit a fuel station. It’s a compelling thought.
Jaguar became the first of the premium brand manufacturers to make a long range, practical, battery-powered electric vehicle. If you can afford the asking price, you might well have everything you could want here: a 300-mile driving range, 395bhp, with potentially zero emissions. Welcome to the I-PACE. Jaguar also claims that it can be charged to around 80% of capacity in less than 90 minutes, though only if you’re fortunate enough to find a DC rapid charging point rated at 50kW. From launch, the I-PACE came in one ‘EV400’ package with a 90kWh battery and a 395bhp all-wheel drive powertrain. There are three standard trim levels – ‘S’, ‘SE’ and ‘HSE’.
The 90kWh lithium-ion battery pack lies between the axles and Jaguar has specified two electric motors so that it could position the wheels for a perfect 50/50 weight distribution. Rest to 60mph takes just 4.5 seconds. Drive like that though and the claimed 300-mile operating range will be used up pretty quickly. If you’ve been waiting for luxury EVs to get serious, your time may have come here. In future, experts will look back at this car as the one that made the EV concept properly credible for the premium buyer. Which makes it very significant indeed.
Kia is stepping up a gear in its EV offensive with this stylish EV6 battery-powered mid-sized performance saloon. This car has pavement presence, the potential of a decent 316-mile driving range and an uber sophisticated cabin which challenges the premium makers for style and quality. There’s even a super high performance GT derivative. This is, in short, a car that rivals need to take very seriously indeed. Inside, one of the most striking elements is a wide, seamless high-tech curved infotainment screen, which gives the interior an open feel. The ‘Relaxation’ seats are slim, lightweight and contemporary and cabin space is similar to many mid-size SUVs. This car’s E-GMP platform allows for 800-volt capability and the EV6 accepts DC rapid charging at up to 220kWh. If you’re able to charge in this fashion, your EV6 will be able to accept a 10-80% charge in just 18 minutes and 62 miles of extra range can be added in only four and a half minutes. In terms of quality, style and technology, the EV6 can equal anything on offer from the German premium brands yet do so at a more affordable price. The EV6 is a car you should try.