What is it?
The XC90 T8 Excellence is the most expensive Volvo to date. It costs Rs 1.25 crore (ex-showroom, Delhi) which makes it 50 percent costlier than the former range-topping XC90 D5 Inscription; quite a lot for just a higher variant, right? The thing is, Volvo doesn’t want you to think of the T8 Excellence as just a variant. It wants you to see the T8 Excellence as an XC90 that offers a whole different experience. The ‘T8’ in this XC90’s name signifies that it’s a plug-in hybrid while ‘Excellence’ speaks of luxury at a scale not seen in any Volvo before.
On the outside, there’s little which shouts that this is the Maybach of Volvos; chrome-plated B- and C-pillars, larger 21-inch wheels and a second filler cap on the left flank (for the charging socket) are the only details that distinguish the Excellence from the regular XC90. It is a handsome SUV, no two ways about that.
But most of what makes this XC90 special is actually hidden from outside view. Volvo calls the T8’s setup ‘Twin Engine’ and it really is that. Under the bonnet sits a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine. It’s a supercharged (for low-end responses) and turbocharged (the turbo takes over from the mid-range on) unit, making a strong 320hp and solely driving the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The second source of propulsion is an 87hp electric motor that sits atop the rear axle and powers the rear wheels only. There is no mechanical linkage between the front and rear axles and the space that would have been taken up by a traditional prop shaft has been cleverly used to house the lithium-ion battery pack in the centre tunnel. This space-efficient arrangement is a result of Volvo developing the SPA platform that underpins the XC90 and S90 from ground-up with full electrification in mind. The battery can be fully charged by plugging it into a 220V wall socket (Volvo provides two charging stations with the car) in 2.5 hours, and power is also replenished on the move through regenerative braking.
Also, the XC90 Excellence is the first car in India to feature radar-based safety systems like collision mitigation with autonomous braking. Unfortunately, our test car did not have these features, so we can’t comment on their efficacy in Indian conditions.
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Issue: 209 | Autocar India: January 2017
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