Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered review: 409bhp hybrid SUV tested Reviews 2023 | Top Gear
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Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered review: 409bhp hybrid SUV tested

Published: 30 Jan 2020

Confusing, you say?

Exactly. After a cursory glance at the spec sheet, you could quite easily pigeonhole this Polestar Engineered XC60 as yet another performance SUV along the lines of the V8-engined Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 or the straight-sixed BMW X3 M. 

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The Volvo has slightly less power than that pair, although 409bhp and 494lb ft of torque is still a supremely healthy amount, but it’s also got four-wheel drive, massive Akebono brakes, trick manually-adjustable Öhlins dampers and a suspension setup that’s shared with the Polestar 1. Exciting.

But things aren’t that simple, are they?

Nope. To give it its full name, this is the XC60 T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered, which means it’s running Volvo’s top-spec plug-in hybrid powertrain. Interesting. Lots of manufacturers are doing the performance SUV thing, of course, but the PHEV trend hasn’t produced a performance car of any sort yet.

We tested this setup in the S60 saloon recently (it’s also made its way into the V60 estate) and found it had a rather unique and anti-sporting character despite the rapid speed and track-honed dampers. It was certainly no M3 copycat that’s for sure, so how will this all work in the XC60?

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Quick powertrain recap for those that need it: a relatively small 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine drives the front wheels, whilst an electric motor powers the rears. With a full charge it’ll manage around 25 miles of electric-only range and hybrid mode offers huge mpg figures, although deplete that heavy battery at your peril – without it we managed low twenties.

That sub-heading suggests you like it, though?

Absolutely. Put your foot down and the surge of power is instant and addictive (especially with a fully-charged battery), whilst the switch between electric-only and hybrid drive is seamless. This has to be one of the best-calibrated hybrid powertrain/automatic gearbox combinations on sale.

When cruising the XC60 is quiet and well-insulated, but switch to its most-sporting ‘Polestar Engineered’ mode and the little four-cylinder doesn’t sound too bad. Those huge brakes stop well and provide decent feel despite the re-gen.

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The fancy suspension is firm but not crashy in its standard setting – the benefit of which is felt when you reach a corner. Body roll is kept to a minimum, although you’ll certainly feel the added weight that the hybrid powertrain brings if you chuck it into bends. 

And the rest of it?

As expected, the rest is rather standard XC60, which is to say it’s both practical and desirable. There’s plenty of space inside, the boot is massive and all of the touchpoint materials feel premium. There’s also a fantastic Bowers & Wilkins stereo (we dare you to turn it up above half-volume) and Volvo’s now-standard tablet infotainment system. 

Looks good too, doesn’t it?

It really does. You’ll be well aware that Volvo is on a design roll these days, but in this spec the XC60 might just be the best-looking SUV out there. That stormtrooper white stands out nicely and 21-inch forged alloys are standard, with massive 22s a lightweight option. 

Also, yellow seatbelts. That is all.

Go on then, how much does it all cost?

Ah, yes. There’s no other way of saying this, as tested ours was £68,625. Ouch. Given something like an SQ5 starts at just over £50,000, that’s a lot. The Volvo is far more interesting than the diesel-powered Audi though, and although you’d need to keep the battery topped-up to enjoy the best of it, we’d commend anyone who chose the Polestar Engineered as a family hauler.


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