Volvo XC90 Twin Engine

Earlier in the year, Volvo frankly astounded us by revealing that the most powerful version of its latest seven-seater SUV, the Volvo XC90 T8 “Twin Engine” plug-in hybrid, could send 400 hp to its four wheels through the use of just a 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine. Now it’s shown us how it accomplished that feat.

The T8 features a direct-injected petrol mill from the company’s latest Drive-E engine family, breathed on with a supercharger and a turbocharger to deliver an already-impressive 318 hp and 400 Nm to the front wheels. This is the same engine that, on its own, powers the lesser T6.

On top of that, there is an 82 hp/240 Nm electric motor that powers the rear wheels, as well as a 34 kW crankshaft-mounted starter generator (CISG) between the engine and the gearbox. The latter functions are threefold – firstly, it acts as a powerful starter motor to seamlessly crank the engine to life. It also works as a generator, as well as providing an extra 150 Nm of torque to boost acceleration when needed.

The all-new Volvo XC90 Twin Engine powertrain

Providing the juice to these motors is a 270-400 V battery pack that generates 65 kW of power. The new modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which has been designed from the ground up to accommodate electric propulsion technologies, allows the battery to be fitted into the central tunnel despite its large size, retaining the interior space of the regular models.

Managing the whole shebang is an eight-speed automatic transmission, the same one as fitted to the rest of the XC90 range but beefed up with a larger oil pump for better lubrication in all-electric mode as well as quicker pressure build up when switching from electric to internal combustion propulsion. A two-step braking system partially uses brake-by-wire to recuperate kinetic energy, with a stability function controlling the amount of energy that may be safely regenerated.

Altogether, the petrol-electric tag team make 400 hp and 640 Nm, firing the XC90 T8 to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds, all while delivering carbon dioxide emissions of just 59 grams per km – over 20 grams per km less than the previous target – and an all-electric range of 40 km.

The all-new Volvo XC90 Twin Engine - drive modes on centre screen

Cooling the electric components are two extra circuits for the cooling system. The first cools both the CISG and the rear electric motor, while the second cools the battery either passively through the radiator, or actively via the car’s climate system. If need be, the drivetrain, battery and cabin can be pre-conditioned to ensure they are at optimum temperature and ready to go by the time the driver enters the car.

There are five driving modes to choose from: apart from the self-explanatory Pure Electric mode, there’s the default Hybrid mode which manages both powertrains automatically to deliver the best fuel consumption, Power mode for maximum performance, AWD mode for permanent all-wheel drive and Save mode which retains battery charge for later use such as in city traffic.

In Malaysia, the new 2015 Volvo XC90 is slated to arrive in August, with Volvo Car Malaysia (VCM) confirming that this range-topping T8 plug-in hybrid is under consideration to be offered here. Looks like the school run is going to get a whole lot more spiced-up with 400 hp, eh?