New Audi A4 Avant & BMW 3 Series Touring vs Volvo V60: interior

Audi, BMW and Volvo are all experienced at making plush executive estates with four-wheel drive if you need it. Let’s see which of their contenders is the best buy...

Audi A4 Avant interior

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

If you’re looking for the plushest interior, we’d steer you towards the A4. It feels incredibly solidly constructed and features the largest spread of soft-touch plastics and attractive trim inlays, while every switch, button and dial works with great precision.

The V60 gets closest to this level of build quality, with only a  few flimsier buttons and plastics letting it down. However, while the 3 Series certainly doesn’t feel cheap, it isn’t as luxurious as its rivals; there are fewer dense plastics to be found and the gear selector feels a bit low rent. 

BMW 3 Series Touring interior

The 3 Series compensates with a great driving position, at least when it’s equipped with the £1900 Premium Package of our test car. This adds adjustable lumbar support to the front seats (a £265 option on its own) and electric adjustment, with a memory function on the driver’s side. Both tall and short drivers are well catered for, and the seats are as supportive in hard cornering as they are comfortable on long motorway drives.

Switch to the V60 and you’ll notice that its driver’s seat doesn’t hold you in place quite as well, but in other respects it’s even better, proving that bit more cushioning on long drives and coming as standard with electric adjustment, adjustable lumbar support and a memory function.

The A4 is by no means bad, but its driver’s seat doesn’t offer quite such a wide range of movement and the only way to get full electric adjustment is to step up to the pricey Vorsprung trim. You do get electric lumbar adjustment, though.

Visibility is best in the V60, thanks to big, square windows and parking sensors front and rear, while both rear and surround-view cameras are available. The A4 has a reversing camera as standard, but its windows are smaller and rear pillars thicker. Meanwhile, the 3 Series treads the middle ground for visibility while coming with a side distance warning system as well as a rear-view camera.

Volvo V60 interior

All of these estates have digital displays instead of traditional instrument dials, with the A4’s being the clearest and most widely configurable, allowing you to change the information shown and the size of the dials. The 3 Series’ is a bit overstyled but has a reasonable amount of configurability, but the V60’s display feels like a wasted opportunity, showing little more than conventional instruments.

It’s also a pain that the V60’s climate controls are on the infotainment touchscreen. The traditional switches and dials of the other two are much easier to operate on the move.