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Used test: Audi A6 Allroad vs Volvo V90 Cross Country

These posh, four-wheel-drive estates have more go-anywhere ability than plenty of SUV. We've put them head to head to see which is the better used buy...

Audi A6 Allroad vs Volvo V90 Cross Country

The Contenders

Audi A6 Allroad 45 TDI Sport

List price when new £53,895
Price today £38,749*
Available from 2019-present

Beefed-up version of the plush Audi A6 Avant comes with V6 diesel power, but it isn’t cheap.


Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 PowerPulse AWD

List price when new £50,610
Price today £28,552*
Available from 2017-present

Much like its rival, you get jacked-up suspension, four-wheel drive and lots of space.

*Prices today are based on a 2019 model with average mileage and full service history according to the What Car? Valuation service, correct at time of writing


Here's the scenario: you regard yourself as an adventurous soul and you want something that will tow a horsebox through a muddy field, or get you easily to your favourite hiking spot, yet you still want it to look presentable enough to cut the mustard in the company car park. A luxury SUV would be the obvious option, but one of those hulking leviathans could spark ire with anyone who counts themselves amongst the fanbase of Sir David Attenborough or Greta Thunberg. So is there an alternative?  

Fortunately, there is, because the Audi A6 Allroad or a Volvo V90 Cross Country are stealth SUV options. Both are based on luxurious estate cars but feature off-road tweaks, such as increased ground clearance, protective body cladding and four-wheel drive to make them that bit more terrain-capable.

Audi A6 Allroad driving

The A6 has a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine; we’re testing the less powerful of the two available here. The V90 offers a choice of 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines in petrol and diesel guises; we’ve got the most powerful diesel. In both cases, there’s just one trim level for these rufty-tufty models.


Driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement 

The V90’s engine pumps out slightly more power than the A6’s (231bhp versus 228bhp), but the latter’s power is spread over a broader rev range, so it feels quicker in most situations. The A6 has the edge in a drag race, too, hitting 60mph from rest in 6.8sec to the V90’s 7.4sec. Both have automatic gearboxes that are slightly reluctant to change down when you floor the accelerator and can be hesitant when you’re pulling away from a standstill – though the effect is more pronounced in the V90.

Through corners, the V90 feels less at home than the A6, leaning over more and running out of grip sooner. With its standard adaptive air suspension, the A6 is relatively agile and composed, especially if you switch to its Dynamic driving mode. The A6’s steering is also predictable in its weighting, whereas the V90’s always wants to return to centre in a somewhat unnatural way.

As for ride comfort, there’s no contest. Although you wouldn’t describe the V90 as uncomfortable, it bounces you around more over bumps and jars more noticeably over sharp intrusions than the Audi. In its Comfort driving mode, the A6 feels settled on motorways and absorbent on both town and country roads alike.

Volvo V90 driving

The A6’s smooth V6 is quieter under acceleration than the V90’s slightly clattery four-cylinder engine, and its automatic stop-start system is less abrupt in operation around town. Both engines fade into the background at motorway speeds and road noise is well suppressed in both, but you’ll hear more wind noise from the V90’s door mirrors.

Although the Cross Country rides higher than the standard V90, it can’t match the ground clearance of the A6, which uses its air suspension to raise its body so it can clamber over taller obstacles. Neither car is going to get you places a Range Rover will, but they do come with off-roading features such as hill descent control to help you safely down a slippery slope.

These cars are equally matched for towing, with a 2500kg limit, assuming the trailer is braked.


Next: What are they like inside? >>

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