Hybrid power used to be associated with boring, eco-minded driving, but the technology is evolving. Having announced plans to electrify its entire range by 2019, Volvo has unveiled a hybrid that will warm the heart of motoring enthusiasts worldwide. With more than 400 hp on tap, this family SUV makes hot hatches look slow.
Given the popularity of mid-size luxury four-wheel drives at the moment, it's not surprising to see manufacturers developing faster, more expensive versions for families in a rush. The new BMW X3 range is headlined by the 360 hp (265 kW) M40i, and Audi was arguably first to the segment with the SQ5. But neither of those cars is hybrid powered, and neither can match the 421 hp (314 kW) on offer in the Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar.
Like the XC90 T8 Hybrid with which it shares a powertrain, the hot XC60 doesn't drink like a performance car. It can cover 28 miles (45 km) on battery power alone, and uses 2.1l/100km (134.5 mpg) on the New European Drive Cycle. You'd have to tread very gently to match the official claims in the real world, but the ability to cruise around town without any local emissions is something no direct rival can offer at the moment.
When the driver decides to forget about efficiency, they're likely to enjoy the more responsive accelerator, sportier gearbox tune and more aggressive off-throttle behavior tuned into the car by Polestar. The (oddly-named) tuning house is now an official part of the Volvo brand, making it the equivalent of AMG to Mercedes or M Performance. That means we're likely to see more cars like the XC60 T8 Polestar down the track.
"Our goal is to create useable performance in everyday driving situations for Volvo owners who want an enhanced driving experience," says Henrik Fries, Vice President, Research and Development at Polestar. "The new XC60 has provided us with an excellent base to work on with a dynamic chassis and a state-of-the-art powertrain. With the Polestar optimisation, it makes the new Volvo XC60 a true drivers' car."
Although the T8 is the king of the XC60 range, Volvo will also be offering Polestar optimized versions of the T5, D5 and D4 models. Each car will get a mild bump in power and torque.