2020 Volvo S60 Recharge Review: Powerbrick In The Wall

Volvo’s powerful plug-in hybrid S60 Recharge shows you can have your pace and green it, too 

SINGAPORE — A 400-plus horsepower all-wheel drive executive sedan used to mean something like the Mercedes-AMG C 43 or Audi S4. But in these strange days, it can mean something else entirely – like the Volvo S60 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid you see here.

That’s Volvo Singapore’s name for the S60 T8. ‘T8’ is the international label for Volvo’s plug-in hybrid models, which are also the respective range-toppers, hence the number used to denote more performance than T4, T5, or the most powerful gasoline powered models, T6. 

From the outside, it looks just like the regular T4 R-Design model since it’s also wearing R-Design clothes. Volvo’s been killing it with the way its cars look, and the S60 is far less anonymous than it used to be, with the R-Design touches lending a nice dose of sportiness to the car’s already taut lines. 

Like the XC60 Recharge we tested in January this year, the S60 T8 (we’ll just call it that because it’s silly to say ‘S60 Recharge PHEV’ every dang time) has a twincharged (super- and turbocharged) 2.0-litre engine making 315hp and driving the front wheels. It’s augmented by a 87hp electric motor driving the rear axle, and itself powered by a small 9.1kWh lithium ion battery pack situated in the car’s central tunnel. 

PHEV battery eats into middle passenger legroom a little

Ju-Len’s review on the XC60 Recharge explains all the basics so we won’t repeat them here. In the S60 T8, the battery pack doesn’t eat into boot space (it remains the same at 392-litres), but passengers in the rear will have to get used to straddling the extra-large ‘transmission’ tunnel. Aside from that it remains a decently spacious executive sedan. 

Volvo claims an e-range of 25km to 45km on battery power alone, but since we had only one full charge of the battery, we did what normal drivers would do: Bung it in auto and let the car sort out the electrickery. 

VIDEO: CarBuyer proves PHEVs really work in Singapore

That means the engine only comes in when accelerating or on the highway, and we clocked around 50km with the fuel efficiency at 1.7L/100km, with all the battery used up. Thereafter the car behaved like a regular hybrid car, and being big and powerful it’s nowhere near a Toyota Prius, it still performed better than a regular gasoline car, clocking roughly 7.0L/100km.

Not impressed? Keep in mind the Volvo has a combined output of 402hp, and a comparable machine such as the Mercedes-AMG C 43 would be in the 10-12L/100km range at least.

The S60 T8 is certainly a better fit for the high-powered treatment than the XC60 – though it’s not a Polestar Engineered model just yet – and in Sport mode it leaps forward with eye-opening amounts of gusto. It doesn’t feel like a pointy performance sedan, rather it has the effortless, locomotive-like acceleration of an EV paired with the burr of the twincharged engine.

The non-adaptive suspension is on the firm side, but it strikes a good balance between comfort and body control, and while the car isn’t on entirely par with a semi-hot Audi S or Mercedes-AMG car in sheer driver enjoyment, it’s
1. At least in the ballpark and 2. Much less expensive than German with comparable horsepower.

Charging takes about three hours on a wall plug

Our main gripe is that it sounds unexciting, due to the diesel-like injector rattle of Volvo’s 2.0-litre engine, underscoring the fact that the Swedish company only uses four-cylinder models these days.

On the bright side, it’d make short work of a NS highway run (if that ever becomes legal again) and it’s extra refined in the city when the engine’s not on (which is most of the time). The interior is minimalistic-ally enjoyable, and you have more safety systems than pretty much any other car on the road, price notwithstanding. Volvo’s infotainment system has everything you’d want from a modern car, though its tablet-like interface is less intuitive and requires more digging to get to what you need.

The Volvo is also priced to match its unique position. It’s more expensive than BMW’s 330e (S$246,888 with COE), its only direct PHEV executive sedan competitor, but also significantly faster and more powerful (402hp versus 292hp) – though if you look further up the line, the BMW 530e, which is larger and more luxurious, isn’t far off at S$278,000 with COE. But we can rightly assume that an executive sedan buyer isn’t quite ready for big sedan old-fogeydom just yet.

Where does that leave the S60 T8?

As we’ve seen the plug-in approach isn’t vapourware, it really does work in Singapore as long as you’ve got regular access to a charge point, and things might improve for EVs/PHEVs in 2021 too. As a solid PHEV offering that marries power with some responsibility, Volvo proves that you can have your power cake and charge it too.   

2020 Volvo S60 Recharge T8

Engine 1,969cc, inline 4, twincharged
Power315hp at 5500rpm
Torque 400Nm at 1200-4400rpm 
Gearbox 8-speed automatic 
Electric Motor87hp / 240Nm
Battery Lithium ion / 9.1kWh
Charging Time / Type 3 hours / 3.6kW charging cable 
Electric Range 25-45km  
System Power / Torque 402hp / 640Nm
Top Speed 250km/h 
0-100km/h4.4 seconds 
Fuel Efficiency 2.0L/100km 
VES/CO2 B / 120g/km 
Agent Volvo Singapore 
PriceS$265,000 with COE
Availability Now 
Verdict Power and some EV saintliness, Volvo’s S60 PHEV is a solid performer and priced well

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong