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Used hybrids: Audi Q5 vs Volvo XC60

Buy either of these two premium plug-in hybrid SUVs at a year old and you'll save more than £13,000, but which is the better option?...

New Audi Q5 vs Volvo XC60

The contenders

Audi Q5 55 TFSIe quattro S line Competition

List price when new £54,940

Price today £41,500*

Available from 2019-present

The Q5 is one of our favourite large SUVs, and this plug-in hybrid version ups its appeal even further.


Volvo XC60 T8 AWD R-Design Polestar

List price £55,750

Price today £41,000*

Available from 2017-present

With a similar hybrid setup to the Q5's, the XC60 T8 gives good pace yet also low CO2 emissions.

*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing


Under the government's latest proposals, all conventional petrol and diesel-engined cars will be banned from sale from 2030, with hybrid-powered cars enjoying an extra stay of execution until 2035. After that, it's electric-only vehicles in the new car showrooms. 

For those wishing to dip their toes into the future, but not actually get their ankles wet, a plug-in hybrid seems a sound proposition. This petrol and electric motor variant usually allows a car to travel, once it's fully charged, on electric power alone for quite respectable distances, while still also enjoying all the benefits of a conventionally powered vehicle. 

If that sounds appealing you might be very interested in the 55 TFSIe version of one of our favourite large SUVs, the Audi Q5. It retains most of what’s great about the regular versions but features an electric-only range of 26 miles and, as a bonus, the sort of eye-widening acceleration you’d usually expect from a sports car.

But Volvo had the idea first; it’s been selling a plug-in hybrid version of the XC60 since 2017, and it promises similar performance and even an extra mile of range. Buy either of them at around a year old, as we're testing them here, and you can save yourself a decent sum of money over the cost of a new one. But which one of them deserves to be plugged in on your driveway? Read on to find out. 

Audi Q5 driving

Driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

Both cars have a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor that can work either independently or together. When they combine forces, the XC60 has the edge for outright power, but both cars took 5.4sec to get from 0-60mph. However, the Q5 feels more composed under hard acceleration – especially in slippery conditions.

For any plug-in hybrid to really make sense, though, you’ll need to use the electric motor on its own as often as possible. To do this, you need to select EV mode, which tells the engine to stay switched off, although it will fire up if you floor the accelerator pedal. Performance is perfectly adequate without doing that, especially in the Q5. But in our tests, the Q5 managed 18.6 miles on electricity, compared with 21.9 miles for the XC60.

The two cars are similarly quiet around town, but the XC60 whips up a little more wind noise and tyre roar at motorway speeds. On the plus side, it has the more consistent-feeling brake pedal, making it the easier car in which to shed speed without doing a passable impression of a learner.

Volvo XC60 driving

The XC60, when fitted with the optional from new air suspension and 21in wheels (19in is standard) of our test car, does a fine job of coping with speed bumps and the like, but it fidgets annoyingly over smaller bumps and there’s the odd sharp jolt over potholes. In contrast, the Q5, riding here on its standard steel suspension and 20in wheels, stays more composed on craggy roads but is that bit less forgiving over speed humps.

While far from being wallowy barges, neither car feels as light on its toes in plug-in hybrid form as the regular petrol and diesel equivalents – and the blame for that lies with the extra weight of the battery and electric motor.

Still, the Q5 handles in a more confidence-inspiring manner on your typical twisting B-road, partly because its steering gives you a better sense of connection to the front wheels and partly because its body leans less when turning.