Audi A4 vs BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90

The all-new Volvo S90 executive saloon and a small but potent Audi A4 take on the mighty BMW 5 Series

Words By What Car? team

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Volvo S90

Our verdict

Choose any of these saloons and you’ll be sitting behind the wheel of a comfortable, spacious and refined mode of executive transport. However, the Audi A4 just pips its bigger rivals by a couple of points.

How did we reach this verdict? Well, the Volvo S90 offers the most interior space and gives you more toys for your money than both of these rivals. But it trails them for ride comfort and handling, it's most expensive of these cars to buy and run, and its infotainment system is somewhat fiddly.

  • 'The A4's trump cars is its V6 engine, which really puts the 'express' into executive'

The BMW 5 Series is a seriously class act, and even though it’s the oldest model here by some margin, it competes remarkably well. It’s not far behind the S90 for space and practicality, yet it is that bit more entertaining to drive on a winding road. It can eat up motorway miles with effortless ease and its infotainment system remains one of the best around.

As for the A4, it is marginally behind its larger rivals for both rear seat and boot space. However, it is an even quieter and more relaxed long-distance companion than the 5 Series, and it’s nimbler in corners and has an exquisitely finished interior. Its trump card is that honeyed V6 engine, which really puts the 'express' into executive. The fact that the A4 makes surprisingly good financial sense is the icing on the cake.

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Also consider:

1st – Audi A4 3.0 TDI 218 Sport S tronic

For Comfortable ride; classiest interior; best engine; cheapest to lease

Against Least spacious; no leather upholstery

Verdict It might be the smallest, but it’s the best all-rounder

Rated 5 out of 5

Read the full Audi A4 review

2nd – BMW 520d SE auto

For Great to drive; cheapest company car; intuitive infotainment system

Against Limited safety equipment; rivals are faster

Verdict Still your best bet if space is a priority

Rated 5 out of 5

Read the full BMW 5 Series review

3rd – Volvo S90 D4 Momentum auto

For Most spacious interior; most luxury and safety kit

Against Fiddly infotainment; most expensive to own

Verdict Safe and roomy, but could be better to drive

Rated 4 out of 5

Read the full Volvo S90 review

Specification: Audi A4 3.0 TDI 218 Sport S tronic

Engine size 3.0-litre diesel

List price Β£34,700

Target Price Β£31,384

Power 215bhp

Torque 295lb ft

0-60mph 6.5sec

Top speed 155mph

True MPG 42.0mpg

Official fuel economy 67.3mpg

CO2 emissions 109g/km

Specification: BMW 520d SE auto

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price Β£34,165

Target Price Β£29,744

Power 188bhp

Torque 295lb ft

0-60mph 7.6sec

Top speed 145mph

True MPG 42.1mpg

Official fuel economy 68.9mpg

CO2 emissions 109g/km

Volvo S90 D4 Momentum auto

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

List price Β£32,555

Target Price Β£31,517

Power 188bhp

Torque 295lb ft

0-60mph 7.8sec

Top speed 140mph

True MPG 39.9mpg

Official fuel economy 64.2mpg

CO2 emissions 116g/km

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