In the upper-segment the fight is always on, but the 2017 Mercedes E-Class prevails. Now it gets serious: the new Volvo S90 and the facelifted BMW 5 Series are here to take its crown. First comparison test via Autobild.
Welcome to the premium segment. This is about technology and performance, about prestige and image. Here, the Germans rule the ring: BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-class share the largest part of the cake. But Volvo would like a piece too. The Swedes throw into the arena their new S90. So what can the S90 do?
To check this, we have brought experienced opponents: the BMW 530d and the Mercedes E 350 d, both, what a coincidence, with 258 hp. The BMW with xDrive, the Benz with RWD, as all-wheel drive is not yet available. The Volvo S90 moves forward with a smaller, four-cylinder 235 hp diesel, coupled to an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. Almost five meters long, flat and straight, with polished, crystal clear style, the S90 is not afraid to show off. This applies even more for the interior. Here we find a cozy Scandinavian theme, very refined. Practice, and this is now formulated friendly, is required by the use of the 9-inch giant screen (standard from the equipment level “Momentum”) in the middle: great graphics, but the nested menus and the strange operating logic make it hard to understand at the beginning.
The S90 provides slightly less room than Mercedes and BMW. This is simply because that it is flat. One consequence of the coupé-like designs. In everyday life, the 2010 BMW works better. But please do not be fooled: behind the no longer quite so fresh facade hides the latest technology. The iDrive (10.2-inch display with Navi Professional for 3000 euros) is still the best with a logical and easy to use menu; clearly the best here. The E-Class came with full leather interior in Beige Macchiato, multicontour seat (2321 Euro), widescreen Cockpit (1012 euros) and much more. That works wonderfully baroque and is beautiful to look at, but certainly also a question of taste.
The Benz is certainly the most spacious in this comparison. The seats offer outstanding comfort, the 12.3-inch cockpit display is very sharp, together with the 12.3-inch screen of the Comand Online Navi (3273 Euro). But the Comand – with numerous settings and menus and submenus – is just not so easy and self-explanatory to control as the iDrive from BMW.
The E-class is sovereign
Powered by a beefy 3.0-liter V6 diesel, the E 350 d is not quite as supple and cultivated running as the 530d, but pleasantly sonorous. The nine-speed automatic transmission, we have rarely seen in such good shape; switches fast and attentive. The strength of the E-Class is clearly the comfort: It remains conspicuously silent on board, and as sovereign as a Benz should be over bumps and potholes of any kind. Remarkable: the air suspension (2261 Euros) swallows (almost) everything. The 5 Series with Adaptive dampers (1300 Euro) is more brisk, but also rolls smoothly, the suspension responds sensitively. And in a direct comparison, it feels a more agile than the Benz, with more direct steering, it feels lighter – although both cars weight nearly two tons. A large portion of this feeling of lightness goes, of course, to the wonderful engine-transmission combo. The fine 3.0-liter six-cylinder develops its power even smoother than the Benz, is wonderfully spontaneous, and rotates and zooms with pleasure. The great eight-speed ZF automatic transmission switches outstandingly quick and gentle.
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the S90 accelerates the Volvo quite confidently. The cooperation with the quick switching eight-speed automatic from Japanese supplier Aisin works smoothly. But against the vigorous six-cylinders the S90 has little chance. During the sprint from zero to 100 the 530d is almost two seconds quicker to 160 km / h. The four-cylinder seems inhibited in the power delivery, sounds strained at high speeds – and also consumes not much less than Benz (7.0) and BMW (7.2): 6.8 l/100 km.
The test-S90 braked very good, much better than the BMW. The bad: despite the adaptive air suspension on the rear axle (1970 Euro) it cannot offer the high suspension comfort of the 530d and E 350 d. The Volvo is increasingly rigid, especially over transverse joints. Volvo also shoots high in terms of prices: for 64,600 Euro the test-S90 is still not the most expensive here, the BMW 530d is 1730 euros cheaper at 62 870 EUR. Lonely at the top is the Benz with 71,076 euros for the test car. But his victory cannot be denied even by this detail.
Congratulations Volvo! The S90 has done a really good job. It looks ravishing, is is tastefully decorated, extremely safe and quite lively. That is not enough, though, in this comparison against the sovereign Benz and BMW. The small 2.0-liter four-cylinder has a hard time against the two 3.0-liter six-cylinder engines. In the end, the 2017 Mercedes E-Class wins hands down.