The Volvo XC90 T8 and Audi Q7 e-tron aim to blend the comfort of a large SUV with the running cost of a small hybrid hatchback. Their advanced hybrid drive systems are capable of returning more than 100mpg and both can cover short journeys in silent electric-only mode. So, in the battle of the guilt-free SUV, which comes out on top?
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Audi Q7 e-tron vs Volvo XC90 T8 styling
Neither the XC90 nor the Q7 is for the faint of heart – both measure around five meters in length and their stocky SUV styling gives them impressive road presence. Thanks to well-judged proportions, however, they both carry their sizeable bulk well.
To our eyes, the shapely XC90 is the slightly more graceful of the two – the Q7’s taut creases and huge grille make it look a little more aggressive. Neat design flourishes – be it the ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED lighting signature on the Volvo, or the blade-like 19-inch alloy wheels fitted to the Q7 – lend both cars a distinctly upmarket feel.
Which you prefer will ultimately come down to personal preference – the Volvo will probably appeal to those who appreciate a little more subtlety while the Audi may gain fans for its more in-your-face approach.
Audi Q7 e-tron vs Volvo XC90 T8 interior
The Q7’s cabin boasts a wide centre console to separate the driver and passenger, a slim dashboard with only the bare minimum of buttons and a broad infotainment screen that rises from the top of the dash. The quality of materials and the way they’re all screwed together is superb and the e-tron features Audi’s brilliant Virtual Cockpit as standard.
Aside from a delicate looking crystal gear selector, very little separates the T8 from the rest of the XC90 range. A selection of brighter materials in the Volvo’s cabin give it a slightly more airy feel than the Audi, however, and flashes of wood veneer and polished metal trim are tastefully dotted around its modern interior.
Only the Volvo comes with the option of seven seats – the Q7 has to make do with five thanks to its batteries taking up valuable space under the boot floor. Even in five-seat mode, the XC90 leads the Audi – its boot can muster a more generous 998 litres of space to the Q7’s 890.
Audi Q7 e-tron vs Volvo XC90 T8 driving
By large SUV standards, the Q7 is one of the best all rounders you can buy, feeling sure-footed and stable on the move. It delivers comfort and refinement in spades especially when equipped with optional air suspension.
The XC90 follows a similar comfort-oriented philosophy. Avoid the large 21-inch alloy wheels and the ride will be soothing for all occupants. For a car of its size, the XC90 corners with an impressive lack of body roll, too.
The Q7’s offered with an optional all-wheel steering system. Not only does this improve stability at speed, but considerably tightens the turning circle to offer better low-speed manoeuvrability than the Volvo – useful if regularly travel in town.
Both cars can be driven in eerily silent fully-electric mode, too. Even when their regular engines chime in, they remain suitably quiet, even at motorway speeds.
Audi Q7 e-tron vs Volvo XC90 T8 engines
These super-frugal SUVs take a slightly different approach to their hybrid drive systems. Both use electric motors to boost their eco-credentials but the Volvo is powered by a petrol engine while the Audi uses a diesel unit.
The Q7’s 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine is used throughout the Audi range but, thanks to its electric motor, this heavy SUV can blast from 0-62mph in just six seconds.
The Volvo’s 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol unit produces 39hp more power than the Audi’s 368hp engine and, as a result, the T8 can sprint to 62mph from rest in a more rapid 5.6 seconds.
In terms of fuel economy, it’s the Audi that offers superior figures. The XC90’s 134.5mpg is by no means shabby, but can’t match the Audi’s 166mpg. The Q7’s 35-mile electric-only range edges out the Volvo by eight miles, too. Both cars’ batteries can be topped up via a domestic plug socket but, unless you choose a fast charger, you’ll need to leave your car plugged in for up to eight hours.
Audi Q7 e-tron vs Volvo XC90 value for money
The superior electric range of the Q7 e-tron means it could prove more economical on a daily basis than the XC90 T8, especially if you only travel short distances. Both cars fall into the lowest company car tax bracket so should prove slightly cheaper to run than a conventional non-hybrid SUV.
The Volvo counters the Audi’s superior fuel economy with a cheaper asking price. In entry-level Momentum trim, the XC90 costs from £59,995 while the Q7 e-tron will set you back at least £65,000. The supremely comfortable air suspension system adds £2,000 to the Audi’s list price, however, while the all-wheel steering adds a further £1,100.
Choosing between these two SUVs isn’t easy. Both manage to combine the practicality, luxury and comfort you’d expected from a £60,000 SUV with the fuel consumption figures of a compact hybrid hatchback.
For some, making a decision will come down to which, in their opinion, is the nicer looking car. The badge kudos of the Audi will appeal to many but the more affordable Volvo is certainly worth serious consideration, too.
Save money on your next new car
If you’ve chosen your ideal new SUV, our Audi Q7 deals page will find great prices on the frugal German offering while the Volvo XC90 deals page will show you the best offers on its Swedish rival. If you can’t quite figure out what your next car will be, our car chooser is here to help and our PCP calculator will give you a better idea how much your new car could cost per month.