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Image and Spec Comparison: Audi A6 vs Volvo S90

We’ve recently learned that Volvo will be launching its latest foray into the midsize luxury sedan segment, the Volvo S90. It’s actually quite an impressive looking car, with handsome looks, a great looking interior, interesting engines and the typical suite of Volvo’s excellent safety features. But how will Volvo’s newest sedan stack up against the excellent tried and true Audi A6.

Audi’s A6 has been considered the best-in-class by numerous publications, even placing on Car and Driver’s 10Best in consecutive years, recently. It’s an outstanding vehicle and may be the best model line in Audi’s stable. But it’s getting a bit long in the tooth, having debuted in 2011, and is due for an upgrade. Especially with Jaguar having recently released its exciting XF and Mercedes-Benz soon to be releasing its newest E Class. But Volvo is throwing a monkey wrench into the party with its latest S90, so how does it compare to Audi’s excellent A6.

Audi A6 vs Volvo S90 rear

Well, in terms of looks, the Audi probably wins this one. The Volvo S90 is actually a handsome car, with a striking front end that slants forward by just a few degrees, which is reminiscent of the old sharknose BMW 6 Series. The grille is big and wide, giving the S90 a powerful front stature. The twin-bar headlights also look quite good, even if the design is incredibly similar to the A6’s taillights. But, while handsome, the S90 doesn’t beat the A6’s sexy front end with its LED headlights and famous Audi grille. The overall profile of the car is also very attractive, with just enough touches of both performance and elegance. It’s actually more interesting than the Audi A6 in profile, as the A6 is quite unassuming in that way. However, the rear end is where the Volvo S90 falls down. I don’t know how to say this any other way than that it just looks plain bad. Those taillights are awkward looking and the rear as a whole is boring and sad looking. The A6 doesn’t have the most exciting looking rear end, but its clean and neat and premium looking. Plus those taillights are very nice looking.

On the inside, it’s actually quite the toss up. I think it more comes down to what kind of car you like, to pick between these two interiors because they’re both excellent. The Audi’s is a bit sportier and typically German while the Volvo’s is a bit more luxurious and serene while being typically Swedish. The A6’s interior looks like it belongs to a premium sports sedan while the S90’s looks like it belongs to a luxury car. Both are excellent looking, though we can’t comment on materials until we can put our butts in the S90. But this is a wash as both look fantastic.

Audi A6 vs Volvo S90 Interior

In terms of powertrains, things get much more interesting. The Audi A6 uses the typical suite of Audi engines. Though almost all are excellent, they’re getting a bit boring and stale. There’s your typical diesel engines, which are almost all yawn-inducing, a 2.0 liter TFSI which is decently powerful for such a big car and there’s the 3.0 liter Supercharged V6 which is fantastic. The Volvo brings some seriously interesting engine options to the table. No Volvo S90 engine will have more than four cylinders, whether it be diesel or gasoline powered. The S90 will come with your standard diesels in Europe, but all markets will get some seriously funky gasoline powertrains.

The base Volvo S90 T5 model will get a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that develops 240 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. That’s comparable to the Aud A6 2.0 TFSI which boasts 252 hp and 273 lb-ft. But the S90 T6 gets a twin-charged (both supercharged and turbocharged) version of the same 2.0 liter engine and puts down 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. This is obviously comparable to the Audi A6 3.0t, which has a supercharged V6 and makes 333 hp. The Volvo S90 does have a more powerful variant called the T8, which uses the same twin-charged engine as the T6 but also adds an electric motor to create a hybrid powertrain. This hybrid T8 packs 400 hp and a hefty 472 lb-ft. That’s more comparable to an Audi S6, which develops 450 hp from a twin-turbocharge 4.0 liter TFSI V8. We suspect the S6 will faster and handle better than the S90 T8, but it’s most likely luxury and efficiency that the T8 is after, no outright performance.

Half profile Volvo S90 Mussel Blue
2017 Volvo S90 in Mussel Blue

The new Volvo S90 seems like it could be an excellent luxury car with great performance, a lovely cabin, incredible safety features and some good looks to boot. The Audi A6 still seems like the better car, but the Volvo will likely be cheaper, though no pricing has been announced. We’ll do a more thorough test when it actually debuts, but until then, these two cars look quite evenly matched.

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.