Review: Mercedes E-Class Estate vs Volvo V90 vs Audi A6 Avant

Review: Mercedes E-Class Estate vs Volvo V90 vs Audi A6 Avant
Review: Mercedes E-Class Estate vs Volvo V90 vs Audi A6 Avant

If you’re looking for a classy estate, then look at these three

SUVs may have taken a slice out of not just the MPV market but also the estate car market, but a big, classy estate is still a highly desirable mode of transportation for people and their goods. We’ve lined up three of the biggest and best for you to wander round in, marvelling at the architecture and grand vistas.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate E 220 d AMG Line

Price: £40,430
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Target Price: £38,442
Power: 191bhp
Torque: 295lb/ft
0-60mph: 7.8sec
Top speed: 146mph
Gov’t fuel economy: 62.8mpg
True MPG 41.2mpg
CO2 emissions: 120g/km

Driving experience

All three have 2.0-litre diesel engines, with the Mercedes having just a few extra horses. Actually, on the move those few seem to translate into quite a few, with the E-Class romping away from the other two. The Volvo wasn’t so far behind, but the Audi definitely brought up the rear.

So what, you think, I’m not getting one to play hot hatches at the lights. But the ability to get up and go is what you need when your estate is laden with adults, children with their ponies, and the luggage for the Antarctic expedition.

And that’s when you’ll also appreciate the nine-speed auto box in the Mercedes which keeps things on a roiling boil with no fuss or bother. The Audi also shifts through its seven gears seamlessly although the Volvo can clunk a bit as it works through its eight speeds.

The Audi has the smoothest engine to go with that gearbox, with the Mercedes close behind and, this time, the Volvo bringing up the rear. The Volvo stays at the rear when it comes to ride, with a soft ride that lets through bangs and thumps, as does the equally softly sprung Audi. Only the Mercedes offers the pure magic carpet ride of the trio.

Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI Ultra 190 Black Edition S tronic

Price: £41,600
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Power: 187bhp
Torque: 295lb/ft
0-60mph: 8.3sec
Top speed: 140mph
Economy: 61.4mpg
CO2 emissions: 121g/km

Interior

And you could fit a lot of magic carpets inside the E-Class boot. It’s vast, seats up or down, and that’s surely a really important point when buying an estate car. Neither the Volvo nor the Audi can get close, with the Volvo once again trailing in last in the size stakes.

But the Volvo has a tremendous cabin, with a style all of its own. We loved the cream leather – a no-cost option – as well as the light wood veneers and the bright metal trims. It feels lighter and more sunny somehow than the other two. Its nine-inch touchscreen is neat and modern but it can take a bit of getting used to, with its swipe responses.

The Volvo cabin isn’t quite as well screwed together as the Audi A6 interior, but the Audi is showing its age, particularly at the front. The infotainment screen is on the small side and resolution isn’t perfect.

Compared to the 12.3-inch screen (a £1495 option) and the digital instrument cluster (£495) in the Mercedes it looks definitely dated. The E-Class has a hugely stylish dashboard and lots of legroom, so it matches at the front the advantages it shows in the rear.

Volvo V90 D4 Inscription

Price: £37,555
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Power: 187bhp
Torque: 295lb/ft
0-60mph: 8.0sec
Top speed: 140mph
Economy: 62.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 119g/km

Costs

Even before those options, the Mercedes has the highest price after discounts, with the Audi just undercutting it, and the Volvo being noticeably cheaper. The V90 will stay the cheapest over three years when you factor in fuel, tax and all the other costs.

The Audi will depreciate the fastest over three years, which isn’t surprising as it’s the oldest model here. That shows up in various unwelcome ways, like both the V90 and E-Class Estate offering automatic emergency braking as standard, whereas the A6 can’t be had with it even as an option.

Verdict

If you’re looking for a large load-lugger then the Volvo V90 certainly catches the eye. It stands out of this trio with a character all of its own. Sadly, we found the diesel engine a bit gruff, and cheap buying and running costs can’t offset a boot that’s the smallest here. Surely the ability to carry big loads is a prerequisite in this sector.

There will be a new Audi A6 model next year, and that’s readily apparent with the current model showing its age. Even so, it’s really sorted and has the sort of hushed refinement that the newer Volvo simply can’t match. It has a bigger boot and is cheaper on PCP finance, so it still makes a reasonable case for itself.

But The Mercedes E-Class Estate beats the other two handsomely. It’s the quickest and punchiest, and also the most refined. We love the contemporary cabin and of course it has that enormous and flexible boot to swallow whatever is thrown in there. We might be tempted by the lower-spec SE with its smaller wheels and even better ride, but whichever variant you choose, the winner is definitely the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate.

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