Audi A4 vs BMW 5 Series vs Volvo S90

Typically, when the Audi A4 is compared against sedans from rival companies, it’s the usual band of suspects: BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C Class and Jaguar XE. However, in this recent comparison test from the Manchester Evening News, they put the A4 up against the BMW 5 Series and Volvo S90. Those two sedans are both more upmarket and more expensive than the A4. So how does it do against two more luxurious and expensive vehicles?

Really well, to be honest. To even things out a bit, the Audi A4 was packing the brand’s 3.0 liter TDI V6 engine, developing 215 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. This makes it far more powerful than the 2.0 liter turbocharged Volvo and BMW engines. Oddly enough, both the BMW 520d and Volvo S90 make 188 hp and 295 lb-ft. Though, the Audi A4’s bigger engine and added power make it the quickest of the bunch. So it does make up for its lack of size and space a bit.

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But aside from power, the bigger engine helps make the Audi A4 the quietest of the bunch and the smoothest. Reason being is that its bigger engine carrying a lighter car allows it to effortless motor along. It doesn’t take as much effort for the 3.0 TDI V6 to move the A4, while the turbo four-pots in the bigger sedans have to work harder. Less stress on the engine makes for smoother and quieter acceleration. Audi’s S-Tronic seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is very good and shifts very quickly. But the eight-speed ZF automatic in the BMW is claimed to be best. The latter is something we agree with.

In terms of handling dynamics, the Audi A4 is said to be better, yet again. Its smaller size and sharper chassis make it more fun to drive than either the 5 Series or S90. But it’s also better at high speeds, with a more stable and comfortable ride. Thank the A4’s new MLB chassis for that.

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Half profile Volvo S90 Mussel Blue
Volvo S90

On the inside, the Audi A4 is again said to be the best, with the most luxurious cabin. Although it lacks the size of the 5 Series or S90, it’s more luxurious and filled with more technology. Though, BMW’s latest iDrive system in the 5 Series is said to be the best, again something we can agree with. While the 5 Series’ interior is nice and simple, it lacks the luxury and aesthetic appeal of the Volvo or the Audi.

All three cars are excellent cars, but the Audi A4 manages to be better than the other two. It’s actually quite shocking, because it would seem that the A4 is completely out-classed, in this test. It’s by far the least expensive and competes in a segment beneath the 5 Series and S90. So you’d imagine those two cars to wipe the floor with the A4. However, it wasn’t named WhatCar’s Car of the Year for nothing. Its blend of superior driving dynamics, more luxurious cabin and better engine make the Audi A4 3.0 TDI Quattro better than the BMW 520d and Volvo S90 D4.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.