BMW 530e vs Audi A6 TFSI e vs Volvo S90 Recharge: verdict and specifications
The BMW's sheer breadth of talents can't be challenged by the either the Audi or Volvo, but all three cars make fine and cost-effective choices
In the end, picking a winner in this test wasn't difficult. While it's no shock to have a BMW be the best car to drive in any comparison test, the 5 Series makes the decision easy by also being efficient and well priced. It's not perfect, but it's not far off.
Both the Audi and Volvo have significant drawbacks, with the A6 feeling a little anonymous to be considered truly premium, as well as lacking driver engagement. The Volvo is an impressive package, but neither handling or comfort are as good as the BMW's and it's on the pricey side. It's a beautiful piece of design, though, as well as being the most practical car here.
1st: BMW 530e – 4.5 stars
It's hard to look past the BMW in this comparison: it's the most affordable, most efficient and best-to-drive car here, so it's a clear winner. It's second best to the Volvo for practicality, but still pretty spacious and versatile as four-door saloons go. Great on-board technology seals the deal, even if we'd prefer to see a little more safety kit thrown in as standard rather than being optional.
2nd: Volvo S90 Recharge – 3.5 stars
Volvo has gone all-in on plug-in hybrid technology, recently discontinuing the petrol and diesel version of this car. What's left is an impressive offering, with great interior and boot space, classy design inside and out, and a grin-inducing amount of power on tap for rapid acceleration. But it lacks the handling finesse of the BMW and sheer refinement of the Audi, as well as being a bit pricier than the German duo.
3rd: Audi A6 TFSI e – 3.5 stars
It's tough to split the Audi and Volvo – the German car is the more up-to-date design and boasts fantastic in-car technology, as well as being the quietest and most refined of the bunch. But it's a bit dull to drive, and the Volvo just feels like the more interesting and upmarket choice – as well as being more practical, with a significantly bigger boot. The Audi is far from a bad car – it just feels a little unremarkable in this company.
|Car||BMW 530e xDrive M Sport||Volvo S90 T8 Recharge R-Design||Audi A6 50 TFSI e quattro|
S tronic Sport
|On-the-road price/total as tested||£53,535 / £65,010||£55,305 / £56,805||£52,790 / £53,475|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000 miles)||£21,698 / 40.5%||£23,748 / 42.9%||£22,119 / 41.9%|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol + electric motor||2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol + electric motor||2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol + electric motor|
|Transmission||Eight-speed auto, 4WD||Eight-speed auto, 4WD||Eight-speed dual-|
clutch auto, 4WD
|Power / torque||288bhp / 420Nm||385bhp / 400Nm||295bhp / 450Nm|
|0-60 / top speed||5.9s / 143mph||5.1s / 112mph||5.5s / 152mph|
|100% charge cost at 14p/kWh||£1.96||£1.89||£2.30|
|Charge time||3hrs 36mins (3.7kW)||3hrs (7kW)||2hrs 30mins (7kW)|
|Official MPG / CO2 / electric range||135-177mpg / 38g/km / 34 miles||105-149mpg / 44g/km / 37 miles||188mpg / 35g/km / 34 miles|
|Road tax / BiK rate||£465 / 11%||£465 / 11%||£465 / 11%|
|Length / height / width||4,963 / 1,483/ 1,868mm||4,963 / 1,443 / 1,895mm||4,939 / 1,457 / 1,886mm|
|Boot capacity||410 Iitres||461 Iitres||360 Iitres|
In This Review
- 1IntroCompany-car big hitters from BMW, Audi and Volvo go head-to-head in our executive plug-in hybrid comparison
- 2Range, charging and fuel economyVolvo has the best electric range on paper, but there's not much to choose between the three when it comes to real-world fuel economy
- 3Performance and handlingThe Volvo is the most powerful car here, but the BMW is the clear winner when it comes to driver satisfaction
- 4Space and practicalityAll three cars suffer a reduction in boot space due to their batteries, but the Volvo is the most practical overall
- 5Interior and infotainmentAll three models impress here, but the Volvo's Scandinavian influence means it feels that bit different
- 6Running costs and warrantyRunning costs should be broadly similar for all three cars, and they all have similar warranty cover, too
- 7Safety and reliabilityOption packs must be added to all three cars here if you want a full suite of the latest safety kit, but basic crash protection and build quality are solid across the board
- 8Verdict and specifications - currently readingThe BMW's sheer breadth of talents can't be challenged by the either the Audi or Volvo, but all three cars make fine and cost-effective choices