Let us try to steer you through this potential minefield. Here is what you should know about how the Volvo XC60 and Audi Q5 handle, perform and what they can offer you.
Volvo is a luxury vehicle brand and a subsidiary of the Chinese automotive company Geely. They manage to retain a strong hold of the UK market with their SUV range, with total sales of over 30,000 in the first six months of 2019, a year-on-year increase of 30%. Volvo released the XC60 back in 2008 as an alternative to premium SUVs like the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3. Since then, the Swedish brand has given the vehicle a facelift to boost performance and appeal.
Audi, a German car manufacturer, also specialises in luxury vehicles and continues to be a force in the worldwide market. Audi outsold Volvo quite significantly in the first half of 2019, with over 80,000 cars sold in the UK. They first released the five-door SUV, Q5, back in 2008. The most recent model was caught on camera ahead of its 2020 release.
The Volvo XC60 has an improved design including a re-sculpted bonnet, sleek headlights, a bigger Volvo badge, horizontal lines on the grille and chrome bars to emphasis the car’s width. Like its big brother, the XC90, the XC60 takes a more comfort-orientated approach than its mid-size SUV rivals. Inside, everything is clad in leather and aluminium. There is a sense of minimalistic interior and colour that creates luxury and calm.
Audi doesn’t tend to radically alter the appearance of its cars when they update them – and they didn’t here. The Q5 shape remains quintessentially Audi with the coupe-like roofline and the wrap-around tailgate. However, the revised headlights, modified bumpers and the addition of roof rails create a subtle and streamlined SUV.
Volvo has taken on the initiative that this year that no one should die or come to serious harm in one of their cars. When tested by Euro NCAP, the Volvo XC60 took home a five-star rating. Autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition and dual-stage airbags are all fitted as standard. There is also a system called oncoming lane mitigation, which attempts to mitigate a head-on collision. There are optional safety features, including blind-spot monitoring and semi-autonomous capabilities.
The Audi Q5 scored the full five stars, too. This model features tyre-pressure monitoring, ISOFIX child-seat mounts, autonomous braking, self-parking, adaptive cruise control and more. You can also choose to add safety features to make the ride even more protective, including a 360-degree camera, cross-traffic alert and blindspot warning.
The Volvo XC60 maintains stable and consistent steering and good control of body roll, making it pleasant to drive. For those roads that are particularly laden with potholes, there is an optional air suspension that makes it a lot more amicable for British roads.
The same goes for the Audi – with the optional adaptive air suspension, pitted tarmac is easily absorbed and easy to handle. The Q5’s handling is smooth and accurate, and users have found that the ‘Dynamic’ mode sharpens the responses of the vehicle somewhat. Currently, every Q5 model modes with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox and a four-wheel-drive system that disengages the rear wheels when cruising to save on fuel consumption.
Inside, the rear seats are situated a little higher than the front pair to give better visibility for children. There is certainly an airy feeling in this part of the car, especially if you have an XC60 fitted with the optional laminated glass panorama roof. Unlike most SUV roofs, the XC60 doesn’t compromise too much. The rear seat is in three parts that fold 40-20-40, with each section capable of folding completely flat. Push everything forward and you’ll find there’s a comfortable 1,455-litres of space available.
Whoever designed the Audi Q5 really thought about how people use their cars. There is a long, narrow slot by the gear selector for storing your mobile without it sliding around while driving, a roomy glovebox as well as folding rear seats that leave you with 1,550-litres of boot space when required.
Inside the Volvo XC60, the nine-inch touchscreen media system controls virtually everything, thereby eliminating the need for a lot of distracting buttons on the dash. The climate control, sat-nav, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, DAB radio and Wi-Fi hotspot can be accessed with just a few taps.
Similarly, the Audi Q5 is slick and well equipped with tech. There’s a seven-inch infotainment system, Virtual Cockpit dashboard and buttons for the most used features such as climate control, parking sensors and more.
Engine and fuel
The Volvo XC60 boasts a range of petrol and diesel engines as well as a petrol-electric hybrid. The entry-level diesel, D4, offers a great blend of performance and economy thanks to its 187bhp. It will also claim fuel economy of 53.3mpg for the entry-level manual model.
The 2-litre diesel Audi Q5 model can manage a respectable 39.2 mpg, which is all the more impressive considering that it includes quattro four-wheel-drive and a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
P11D and BiK
With CO2 emissions as low as 83g/mile, the plug-in hybrid option of a Volvo XC60 demonstrates that bigger cars can slot into the ULEV category as well. It has a P11D value of £53,800 and falls into the 16% tax bracket, giving it a benefit-in-kind value of £8608.
For an Audi Q5, the P11D averages at £41,600 and can offer a benefit-in-kind value of 36%.
The Volvo XC60 comes out on top for reliability, with a standard three-year warranty that will cover anything that might go wrong. But very little should, given Volvo’s top scores in the Driver Power league table. Just 13% of owners reported a fault within the first year of ownership as the brand continues to rank highly in brand quality and reliability.
That said, the Audi Q5 still managed a respectable 4 star rating for reliability on Car Buyer, with 18.6% of owners reporting a fault during the first year. Given its impressive reputation in other areas, such as design and performance, this may be something Audi owners are willing to overlook.