Safe Space : Volvo S60 T8 Recharge R-Design PHEV Drive Review

By davidkhoo, 08 September 2020

Singapore – Considering Volvo will start limiting the top speed in its cars to 180km/h (save the Polestar models), the irony that we're in the brand's current fastest-accelerating road-going sedan available for sale in Singapore isn't lost on us.

We've been in other brands' hybrids and big-brain all-electric offerings, but the S60 T8 Recharge is the first time we're driving one of Volvo's 'electrified' plug-in hybrids.

In case you're wondering, 'Recharge' is the brand's term for its 'electrified' models (this includes full-electric like the XC40 Recharge, as well as plug-in hybrid vehicles, like this S60 T8 Recharge PHEV in the tally).

The toned, squared-off stance of the S60 is nicely set-off by subtly sporty R-Design elements, as well as the Mjolnir 'Hammer of Thor' headlight motif and herringbone tail-light signature, which help distinguish it from the familiar Teutonic suspects.

It's familiar R-Design territory though, so you'll need to spot the 'T8' and 'twin-engine' emblems on its rump to differentiate T8 R-Design from T5 R-Design.

You'll appreciate the Scandi-chic cabin if you're the sort that gets high on hygge. The car may be safety-feature-packed and tech-laden, but the cabin doesn't have the same sort of clutter found in its Teutonic counterparts, since everything is controlled via the central touchscreen display (including toggling between different instrument cluster 'looks', as the video above demonstrates).

However, finding your desired setting can take several rounds of pokes and swipes before smelling success, because the interface is less familiar to those who have spent more time in its Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz counterparts.

Despite its performance credentials, there's nothing in the cabin that is overly aggressive or shouty to encourage one to deploy the T8's prowess.

If anything, it's an inoffensive safe-space refuge that is big on minimalist 'style' and ambience, even though it can come across as rather cold. It is exactly this quality to the cabin that helps one achieve a Zen-like tranquillity, regardless of how much the big bad world outside has triggered you.

On the whole, fit and finish of the USA-built S60 are par for the course, with a 'together' feel to the cabin that should see it stand toe-to-toe against its rivals.

Naturally, as a Volvo, it's got loads of active and passive safety kit – the video below demonstrates its collision warning system.

If you missed what we said about the S60 T8 Recharge being the quickest Volvo currently available in Singapore, here are the vital statistics: 0-100km/h is dispatched in a sportscar-rivalling 4.4secs.

The T8's combined system output is 408hp and 640Nm, with turbo'd 1969cc inline4 working in tandem with a 11.6kWh rated (but effective 9.1kWh) electric motor – no mean feat considering the all-wheel-driven T8's kerbweight tips the scales at close to two-tonnes (1989kg to be exact, versus the T5's 1737kg).

With such tub-thumping performance statistics from the plug-in hybrid, you'd think we'd be over the moon, but everything comes a little too easily to be truly invigorating.

If anything, it's more comfortable cruiser than bad-boy bruiser, with a tight, composed ride and some of the best seats in the business for comfortable motoring.

The S$265k T8 may have the paper figures of a performance machine, but we wonder if the lighter (and est. S$70k cheaper) non-hybrid T5 R-Design isn't a better candidate for brisk cruising and general commuting, especially if that's what you're ultimately after. 

Old-school petrolheads need a lot more than just putting one's right-foot down to enjoy driving – steering, drama and sound may not be essential qualities to fair-weathered enthusiasts, but they are some of the ingredients of an engaging car that continue to thrill some of us dinosaurs.

Going fast is a little too effortless and fuss-free in the S60 T8, so much so it quickly loses its novelty and you're content to waft along on the fat band of torque, which segues perfectly with the 'safety first' ideology of the brand and its move to a 180km/h limited top speed.

Different drive modes let one alternate between all-electric (Pure) – which was good for about a 30km+ range – to a sporty petrol-electric blend (Sport) that lets one muster its maximum system output for punchy performance.

Despite the rah-rah over all-electric vehicles, hybrids are still the sweet-spot for the masses that helps bridge conventionally-engined to all-electric vehicles, with the immediacy of the electric motor's performance used to augment the traditional internal combustion engine to create a product that remains recognisable, familiar and more importantly, palatable to the majority.

Volvo S60 T8 'Recharge' R-Design
Engine 1969cc, inline4, turbocharged
Engine output/rpm 320hp/5700rpm
Engine torque/rpm 400Nm/2200-5400rpm
Electric Motor 11.6kWh (9.1kWh real-world)
System Output 408hp
System Torque 640Nm
Transmission 8spd auto
0-100km/h 4.4secs
Top Speed 250km/h (for now)
Fuel Consumption 2l/100km

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