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Used test: Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan vs Volvo XC60 interiors

These prestige SUVs all look great value at five years old, but which of them should you actually buy?...

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality, practicality

The Porsche Macan is well suited to a sporty driving position, but we have two complaints. Firstly, unlike the other two cars we're looking at, it doesn't have electrically adjustable lumbar support as standard. You’ll have to find an example fitted with the optional Comfort Seats for that, and without it, lower back support is poor. Our second gripe is that the centre console bulges out, forcing your left leg over to the right.

Overall, the Volvo XC60 has the most natural driving position. Like the Macan, its steering wheel has more reach adjustment than in the Audi Q5, and the shapely sports seats in this R-Design trim are firm but superbly supportive on a long journey. From new, you get eight-way electric seat adjustment as standard in the Macan, whereas the XC60 has only electric height adjustment. In the Q5, you have to adjust the driver’s seat manually.

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

That mild grumble aside, the Q5’s interior is the easiest to use. It has the clearest dashboard layout and all its important buttons are merely a slight elbow extension away. The non-standard Virtual Cockpit digital instrument display fitted to our test car also shows sat-nav, media and phone information just behind the steering wheel.

The XC60 gets digital instruments as standard, but the information displayed isn’t as comprehensive. The real issue, though, is its lack of buttons. Minimalist Scandinavian design may work in the home, but having to delve into the touchscreen while driving to adjust even simple things, such as the interior temperature, is both a faff and a distraction.

In contrast, the Macan’s dashboard is festooned with buttons – in fact, trying to find the one you want is like searching for that elusive Tangy Orange Creme in a box of Cadbury’s Roses. With familiarity you can learn to feel your way around them, making it ultimately better than the XC60.

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

The Q5’s standard infotainment system is great, featuring a 7.0in touchscreen and snappy menus that are easy to navigate with the rotary controller and shortcut buttons around the gear selector. The larger 8.3in screen in our test car was part of the Technology Pack. The pack also added a touchpad for entering postcodes with your fingertip, a wireless smartphone charging mat and the 12.3in Virtual Cockpit display.

Porsche’s standard system is comprehensive, with onboard wi-fi and data to deliver live traffic reports, as well as apps you can use with an iPhone to send navigation routes to the car or remotely check its location. You can also use the apps to stream music while driving. The 7.0in touchscreen is clear and has useful physical shortcut buttons. 

At first glance, Volvo’s Sensus system seems fabulous: a sharp-looking tablet-style 9.0in touchscreen with swipeable menus like an iPad. In practice, it’s rather clunky, often taking time to react to commands, and with numerous menu layers and small icons, it’s very distracting to use on the move. 

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

The Q5 wins for interior quality. From the switches that click with precision to the millimetre-perfect panel gaps, everything in it puts it in a class above the two rivals. The others are still very good, mind.

These aren’t the largest SUVs you can buy, but you won’t notice that when you're sitting in the front. They all have seats that slide back far enough to unfurl the longest of legs and enough head room for six-footers to sit up straight without their heads brushing the roof lining. The XC60 just pips the Q5 for interior width, so there’s less chance of squabbling over elbow room on the central armrest, but the Macan is hardly slender.

When you compare the back seats, a more defined pecking order emerges. The Macan is the most compact. Again, it's not small, but if the front seat occupants are tall, 6ft adults in the rear will find their knees wedged against the back of the seat in front.

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

Even without the optional panoramic roof fitted (which both our other test cars had as well), they’ll be aware that there’s not much of a gap above their heads to the ceiling.

The Q5 has much more knee room than the Macan, but the XC60 is the one you’d choose to lounge in the back of. It has plenty of head room and 35mm more leg room than you’ll find in the Q5. It’s also the best at seating three adults side by side, while the Macan is the tightest for space.

Where the Q5 scores highly is flexibility. It’s the only one that had the option of sliding rear seats from new, so you can prioritise either leg room or boot space. If the original owner ticked that option, the rear seats also recline – handy if your rear seat passengers fancy a nap.

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

Having the widest and tallest boot means that even without its rear seats slid forward, the Q5 will take the most luggage. We got nine carry-on suitcases into it. The XC60 managed eight, but that was a bit of a squeeze, and the Macan took seven, with some room to spare around the edges.

Despite having the least luggage space above its boot floor, the Macan has a decent trough underneath, unlike its rivals.