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Used test: Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan vs Volvo XC60

A saving of around £14,000 off new is available on each of these five-year-old premium SUVs, but which should you choose? We have the answer...

Volvo XC60, Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan

The contenders

Audi Q5 2.0 TDI 190 quattro S line

List price when new £41,085
Price today £26,000*
Available from 2017-present

Good to drive and relatively cheap to run, the Q5 is an excellent large SUV

Porsche Macan 3.0 S Diesel

List price when new £48,289
Price today £35,000*
Available from 2014-present

Proof that SUVs can handle well, but the Macan comes at a premium 

Volvo XC60 2.0 D4 R-Design AWD

List price when new £39,705
Price today £26,000*
Available from 2017-present

The XC60 is classy, roomy and well equipped, plus it's the cheapest car here

*Price today is based on a 2018 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

It's easily done: you start searching for your next car and, little by little, the budget creeps upwards. Before you know it, doubts about whether the extra cost is worth it begin to linger, soon leaving you back at square one. Well, let's address this conundrum by pitting a pair of used large SUVs, the Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60, up against a pricier alternative, that being the Porsche Macan

The first two cars will certainly satisfy your head, thanks to reasonable prices and good practicality. What's more, you'll likely appreciate their premium badges and the creature comforts they yield. 

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

However, perhaps the Macan is a better match for your heart. Its badge is even more prestigious, not to mention it comes with some compelling credentials both in the power and handling departments. The trade-off is its demand for more of your hard-earned cash, but – as we're about to investigate – this could end up be well deserved. 


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

If you covet performance, the Macan is the one for you. Cars equipped with the optional-from-new Sport Chrono pack have launch control, triggering 255bhp, while its two rivals have 188bhp. The Macan storms off down the road and on to 60mph in just 5.9sec, with the Q5 taking 2.0sec longer and the XC60 another 0.6sec on top of that.

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

That’s not to say the Q5 and XC60 are slow. Both provide perfectly respectable grunt and can pull you along ably; they're just not as brisk as the Macan.

The XC60 is the loudest in terms of wind noise. Its big door mirrors are great for seeing what’s behind, but they whip up quite a flurry at 70mph. Mind you, there’s less road noise than in the other two.

In the Q5, it takes the form of a high-pitched drone that, incidentally, was worse than in Q5s we’ve tested previously. The Macan creates a resonance on certain surfaces that’s audible as well as haptic, feeding through the steering.

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

All things considered, the Q5 provides the most peaceful environment at a steady 70mph, followed by the XC60 and the Macan. None of them is exactly taxing to drive a long distance in, though.

Ride quality is a mixed bag, with all three displaying strengths and weaknesses. Let’s start with the XC60. On adjustable air suspension (an optional extra from new), it conveys you across crests, dips and ripples with a suppleness the other two cars can’t muster. It’s best on the motorway, soothing you along, while the other two, particularly the Macan, gently jiggle you.

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

Marvellous, you think, until the XC60 strikes something sharp-edged, such as a pothole. Then it jars you abruptly. If you traverse a string of such imperfections in quick succession, you feel a shimmy through the car’s body for good measure.

On its optional-from-new adaptive air suspension, the Macan is a different kettle of fish. Even in its softest mode, you grasp immediately that it’s tauter and firmer. While the XC60 needs time to settle after a speed bump, the Macan controls its heft more quickly, and is less prone to crashing over jagged imperfections. That slight motorway fidget aside, it’s a good compromise.

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

The Q5 slots somewhere in between. Although as standard it gets what Audi calls Comfort Dynamic suspension, which is a bit softer, our car had the stiffer Sport suspension – a no-cost option when new. It produces the most background suspension noise and is marginally less compliant than the Macan, although it's less prone to thumping over broken roads than the XC60. We know, though, that the non-standard air suspension gives the Q5 a sublime, class-leading ride.

The Q5 is also pretty decent in the corners. Overall grip is good, the nose turns in keenly and the car changes direction crisply. The firm brake pedal is reassuring, too. Our only gripe is the steering; it’s accurate, but it's a touch light initially before becoming overly heavy with a quarter of a turn of lock on.

New Volvo XC60 vs Audi Q5 vs Porsche Macan

If the Q5 is good to drive, the Macan is brilliant by SUV standards. You’ll be amazed how such a heavy car darts into corners and shows great stability afterwards. The steering is weighty but consistent, nurturing your trust that the tyres will grip. Put simply, if you want an SUV that’s as close as possible to a sports car, the Macan is just the ticket.

The XC60 is the least impressive in corners. At anything more than a moderate pace, it lurches around, and while the steering feels weighty in the centre, keeping you tracking true down a motorway, it’s too light through corners to give you any real feedback or confidence. That does make the XC60 the easiest to manage around town, though. 

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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