Used hybrids: BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90

On paper, these two luxury hybrid saloons offer great economy and, bought used, tremendous value for money, but which one makes the best buy?...

Used BMW 5 Series Saloon 2017-2023 interior

What are they like inside?

There’s no doubt about the fact that you’re getting into a luxury car when you slide behind the wheel of either of these. Both come with plush leather seats as standard, although the S90’s are superior, thanks to full electric adjustment with memory, a massage function and softer Napa hide. The BMW 5 Series 530e makes do with part-electric seats and, unlike in the Volvo S90, you’d have had to pay extra from new for adjustable lumbar support and a memory function.

Forward visibility is slightly better in the S90, because its windscreen pillars are slimmer, but its shallower rear window makes looking out the back slightly trickier than in the 530e. At least both get front and rear parking sensors, with rear and 360deg bird’s eye-view cameras on the options list.

As for interior quality, both have plenty of dense, squidgy plastic throughout, along with leather and leather-effect garnish on the top of the dash and doors, plus expensive-looking trims. However, the 530e feels that little bit better screwed together. Digital instrument panels are standard on both, but the 530e’s have sharper graphics, so they’re easier to see.

Volvo S90 2018 RHD dashboard

Tall drivers will find that the 530e’s seat goes back a little farther and there’s significantly more head room. The optional sunroof on our test S90 (part of a £1600 pack when new) is to blame for at least part of that deficiency, but even those over six feet tall won’t find their head actually touching the roof.

Those in the back will find the S90 has a bit more leg room but a fraction less head room, although again, a couple of tall adults will still fit in without complaint. A larger central tunnel for middle seat passengers to negotiate counts against the S90, though. Should you need to carry long items, the S90 gets folding rear seatbacks as standard, but you’d have had to pay extra for them from new in the 530e. Thus equipped, the 530e scores for having convenient release levers in the boot, while the S90 has electric releases near the rear headrests.

With the rear seats up, the Volvo S90 boot is far bigger, swallowing eight carry-on suitcases with a bit of room to spare, whereas the 530e can manage only five, due to the hybrid gubbins underneath. The regular BMW 5 Series saloon’s boot is much more capacious.

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