The Volvo XC60 and Audi A4 Allroad are two of the more premium offerings available in the incredibly popular ‘soft-roader’ section of the market. Both of these cars receive generally good reviews from critics, but which car is the one to choose?
Do you go for the handsome Volvo that offers nuclear-bunker levels of safety and higher driving position? Or the slightly sportier Audi with its arguably more premium badge and image?
We’ve put the two cars side-by-side to help make the decision a little easier for anyone considering splurging a rather considerable amount of cash on either of these crossovers.
Interior and practicality
As you’d hope from cars that cost the thick end of £30,000, the cabins of the XC60 and the A4 Allroad are incredibly nice places to be. Critics liked the fact that the materials used on the interior of the XC60 were of high quality, and felt like they had been put together by a person (or robot, for that matter) that really knew what they were doing.
The groovy ‘floating’ centre console was also a hit with the road testers, although there was a trend among reviewers to criticise some of the buttons as being on the small and fiddly side.
That being said, this really was the only fault that the critics could find with the XC60. The seats are luxuriously comfortable and supportive, and there was plenty of head- and legroom for four adult-sized passengers. The boot also has an incredibly handy 455 litres of space.
Now, while the interior of the Volvo may be nice, the cabin of the Audi really takes things to the next level. Commentators noted that the cabin of the A4 Allroad really conforms to the Audi trend of being beautifully designed and immaculately put together.
The seats are comfortable, the switch gear is all well laid out and easy to use, and road, wind and engine noise are all kept to a minimum. Critics note that there is a huge amount of legroom, and back-seat passengers would never feel cramped or uncomfortable. The 490-litre boot (which can be expanded to 1,430 litres with the back seats down) also has a handy slide out tray – making it easy to get things in and out of the back.
As you would expect with a crossover, the Volvo really isn’t designed to be driven at pace down a twisty B-road. It is an incredibly competent motorway cruiser, offering drivers good levels of comfort, without too much irritation from things like road and wind noise.
Drivers shouldn’t be fooled by the raised driving position either, because it’s not particularly suited to off-road driving. For this reason, road testers recommend going for the two-wheel-drive version, rather than the four-wheel-drive option which will hamper fuel economy. Critics also weren’t terribly impressed with the Volvo’s steering, stating that it was numb and a lot heavier than needed.
When it comes to the driving experience offered by the A4 Allroad, it would seem that the Audi has the Volvo beat again. Although this car looks a bit more like an SUV than the regular A4 Avant, critics were very impressed by the fact that it drove like an estate car – with some testers even thinking that it drove better than the standard A4 Avant.
The A4 Allroad still has relatively firm suspension, so you can nip along country roads at a decent speed without having to shed too much speed before taking corners. The most common fault that critics could identify in the Allroad was the fact that the steering feels a wee bit unresponsive.
The Volvo and the Audi both offer rather expansive engine line-ups. Volvo has recently updated the engines available with the XC60, and so far reviews of the new four-cylinder diesels have been positive.
Although they may not be the most performance orientated engines ever, they are certainly economical. The 2.0-litre D4 diesel unit – a favourite among critics, but only available with two-wheel-drive – only sips fuel, and therefore can achieve a combined fuel consumption figure of 62.8mpg. The slightly larger and more powerful 2.4-litre five-cylinder, four-wheel-drive-only D4 engine is claimed to achieve 53.3mpg. There are a number of more powerful petrol engines available, although critics have advised against specifying these because they are incredibly thirsty.
Commentators were also impressed with the engines available on the A4 Allroad – with the general consensus being that there isn’t a single bad engine available. Buyers are offered a choice between 2.0- or 3.0-litre TDI diesel engines, or a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine.
Road-testers believe that the 2.0-litre TDI is the engine to go for in the Allroad because it delivers a good balance between power and economy. It’s worth noting that even though the most frugal A4 Allroad engine (the 2.0-litre TDI) isn’t as economical as that in the XC60, all the A4 Allroad engines are attached to four-wheel-drive systems. The most fuel-friendly Volvo engines are two-wheel-drive only.
Value for money
There’s no escaping the fact that both these cars are rather expensive to buy – especially when you start adding extra bits and pieces from the options lists. The Volvo is the cheaper of the two, with entry level prices beginning at £31,260, as opposed to the £32,680 asking price for a base-spec A4 Allroad.
That being said, an XC60 in the top of the line R-Design trim level, with one of the larger D5 diesel engines, or the thirsty T6 petrol engine are a few thousand pounds more than the most expensive Allroad. However, the majority of buyers will elect for the 2.0-litre D4 diesel in their XC60, and even in R-Edition trim, it is still cheaper than an entry level A4 Allroad – but you’ll be missing four-wheel-drive in the Volvo.
The Volvo will also be cheaper to run than the Audi, thanks to the more economical engines on offer. Pick a two-wheel-drive XC60 and you’ll pay less road tax and fill up less often in the four-wheel-drive-only A4. An XC60 with the 2.0-litre D4 diesel only costs £30 per year in road tax, as opposed to around £180 for an A4 with the 2.0-litre TDI engine.
Although the Volvo may beat the Audi in the running costs department, the Audi manages to claw back a victory when it comes to resale value. Critics predict the XC60 won’t hold its value as well as the A4 Allroad, or other cars from German manufacturers for that matter. This can probably be put down to the fact that the Audi badge is held in higher regard by the majority of buyers than Volvo’s.
If you take a look at the aggregated wowscores for both of these cars, you will notice that they both score 7.4 out of 10. This makes sense, really, since both cars perform well in areas where the other one may not.
The Audi has the nicer interior, and is slightly more practical, while the Volvo has the more economical range of engines. The Audi is more of a driver’s car, while the Volvo arguably represents better value for money.
As a result, it becomes rather apparent that personal preference is going to be the deciding factor between these two cars. If you are simply in the market for an economical car, that can carry five people in comfort, then the XC60 might be the car to choose. If you desire a more driver-orientated car, then the Audi is the car to go for.