Plug-in hybrid 2015 Volvo XC90 goes upmarket

After relentless teasing Volvo has revealed its latest flagship model, the 2015 XC90 SUV.

The company’s all-new XC90 models show the first step in Volvo’s new design language and push the brand further upmarket than ever before, none more so than the range-topping T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid.

Taking design cues from the Swedish carmaker’s latest raft of handsome concept cars, the Range Rover-battling SUV is built on a new scalable chassis and will be powered by Volvo’s new range of frugal Drive-E engines. However, the plug-in hybrid version promises the most excitement.

Combining a two-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine – which will be both supercharged and turbocharged for more power – with an electric motor, the XC60 T8 Twin Engine is expected to develop roughly 400 hp. Due to the Jekyll and Hyde nature of plug-in hybrid technology, the same powertrain will emit just 60 g/km carbon dioxide on the European test cycle.

Details of electric range, charge time, and cost are yet to come to light, although Volvo’s expertise in drivetrain electrifications should make the XC90 Twin Engine highly competitive.

In design terms, the car’s silhouette is largely reminiscent of the outgoing model, albeit with pebble-smooth body panels that give the XC90 a rugged stance. Much fuss has been made about the ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime running headlight motif, and few would disagree that it looks superb. The grille is also far more prominent than previous Volvo models.

Inside, much has changed. Volvo’s interior designers have worked with software developers to remove as many buttons as possible. Tesla employed a similar philosophy for the Model S, and in both cars the results are elegant. Natural materials will also feature heavily in certain models, while the vertically oriented touchscreen will include cloud-based satellite navigation.

“The new interior is pure and uncluttered, while still radiating the sophisticated confidence and formality that luxury SUV customers expect. The simplicity is perfectly in tune with our Scandinavian design heritage. It opens up generous surfaces and gives us the opportunity to create a modern, luxurious interior architecture,” says chief designer Thomas Ingenlath.

“The overall impression, both exterior and interior, has a strong connection to the key elements of the Swedish lifestyle: the generous space, the celebration of light and the focus on wellbeing.”

The Volvo XC90 Twin Engine is heavily touted to reach the US at some point in the next two years. A public debut is scheduled for this year’s Paris Motor Show, after which European deliveries will reportedly commence in May 2015.

Posted by Richard Lane

Richard is a London-based automotive journalist specialising in future mobility and sustainable design. Having fallen for cars because of the virtues of a particular German flat-six, it's what we'll all be driving next that now interests Richard most. Dream garage: Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Junior and a Detroit Electric SP:01.

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