Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered review: a midsize SUV sprinkled with stardust
This versatile car ticks all the boxes for family and city living
Volvo’s midsize SUV, the XC60, has a new luxurious and sporty range-topping model - the T8 Polestar Engineered.
For three weeks I lived with this twin-engined hybrid and was able to test it across a wide range of occasions - surfboard strapped to the roof for the long drive from London to Cornwall with the family; bike thrown in the back for early morning weekend rides in the Surrey hills; and daily errands around the congested central streets of the capital.
I found myself looking forward to getting behind the wheel every time - it’s a fantastic and versatile car that fitted perfectly for my new family needs. Size wise it was ideal too - for wife and baby, an active lifestyle, living in London, but regularly loading up with gear bound for long weekend breaks.
The full-sized XC90 would perhaps be unwieldy around London, yet the XC40 is too compact to lap up those long drives with ease and a little light on space requirements for luggage. The XC60 nestles perfectly in the middle.
Volvo’s execution of the XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered is to be applauded - it was very comfortable, drove brilliantly and is great looking too. And, without stating the obvious, it also felt very safe - stepping up into a cabin provides that feeling of sanctuary, plus the added knowledge you were cocooned with Volvo’s cutting edge safety features made me feel happy with a newborn baby in the back.
Not your bog standard spec
It starts on the road for £64,545 - that is almost £30,000 dearer than the entry level XC60. So what are you paying the extra for? Well, the hybrid twin engine is for sure the biggest reason, but you also get a host of nice options that come as standard, including oncoming lane mitigation, run-off road protection, pedestrian and cycle detection, head-up display, huge panoramic sunroof, 21” alloys and Ohlins suspension and Akebono brakes.
At first glance, the distinctive yellow seatbelts and enormous yellow brake callipers are the obvious giveaways that it’s not your bog standard spec.
However, under the bonnet, you’ll find a twin-engined hybrid; a two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 318bhp via the front wheels (turbocharged and supercharged for good measure), backed up by an 87bhp electric engine powering the rear wheels.
Together, these will propel this two-tonne luxury family SUV from 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds - I certainly never needed any more speed than was delivered when putting my foot down; it’s seriously rapid. Select from five driving modes - from the most sporty Polestar setting through to pure EV mode and all in-between.
The particular model I was driving had eight additional options over and above the standard Polestar, tipping it just shy of £71,000.
Options included a Bowers & Wilkins sound system (£1,650), parking assist and 360-degree cameras (£800), whopping 22” five-spoke alloys (£1,000 and not totally necessary, the standard 21” I think suffice) as well as a pilot assist system (£1,500) that I would highly recommend.
This extra was fantastic on motorways, as the car - a little unnervingly at first, but you soon get used to it - intelligently steers, accelerates and brakes all by itself.
Then there’s the best spent £300 option which you must have, namely the Apple CarPlay - this means the 9” central screen mirrors your iPhone so apps such Google Maps, Waze and Spotify all integrate seamlessly.
Ticks all the boxes
So, what’s it like behind the wheel? With an eight-speed gearbox it’s exceptionally smooth and quiet to drive. This is particularly the case as, when gently accelerating from stationary, the car will be in pure EV mode until around around 15-20mph, at which point the motor engine quietly kicks in to do the heavy lifting. The 10.4kw battery claims to provide 45km of electric-only range, however in reality with normal driving I found this to be quite a bit less.
I was a little disappointed after having specifically filled the battery up to 100% from a public fast charger, it then only seemed to last around 45 minutes before it was back at the constant base level (achieved from self charging when you’re coasting with your foot off the gas, or you’re breaking). The suspension is on the firmer side, but perfectly fine for everyday life, and the steering is sharp and very light indeed.
The cabin layout is well thought through. Little features like three cup holders are really nice and the full panoramic sunroof is fantastic, bringing in loads of light to both front and back seats. In the back seats, three passengers can be seated quite comfortably, and I had a Maxi-Cosi Pebble secured into the Isofix points. The boot is just about sufficient, albeit not the largest at 468 litres - akin to a BMW 3 series estate, and for reference the XC90 at 775 litres. When packing for our holidays, we quickly filled the boot up and were using the back seats for extra bits.
When it came to handing the keys back, I was very sad indeed (as was my wife!) to see it go. We both really fell in love with it on just about every front - incredibly comfortable, very safe and great looking.
As a crossover for city living, to motorway cruiser, to family run-about - it ticked all the boxes for me.
Images: Fergus Scholes / Volvo