The Volvo S90 and Mercedes E-Class are important new cars in the executive saloon market. The S90 is a dramatic step forward for Volvo but, is it good enough to edge ahead of the recently renewed Mercedes E-Class? We compare the two side-by-side to help you decide which of these capable cars best suits your needs.
If you’re sold on these options, put either the Volvo S90 or the Mercedes E-Class in our car configurator to see the deals carwow could help you get. If neither of these saloons seems quite right for you, read our list of the best executive cars on sale for more options, or check out our car deals page for more great new car offers.
Volvo S90 vs Mercedes E-Class – styling
Volvo has overhauled the styling of its latest vehicles with bold new details including distinctive ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED headlights and a more prominent grille. The S90 has a long, graceful body, with simple flowing curves that help set it apart from competitors. At the rear, the Volvo is a little less distinctive, but does feature bold C-shaped brake lights and an elegantly sloping roof-line.
The E-Class sports a sleek new face with a distinctly curvier body than the S90. There has been some criticism, however, that the new car looks too similar to the C-Class and S-Class models, but its handsome appearance is unlikely to be particularly divisive.
Volvo S90 vs Mercedes E-Class – interior
Both the S90 and the E-Class offer interiors that are amongst the very best in their class. The Volvo has an airy cabin with bright material choices and plenty of light-coloured wood. The highlight feature is the large portrait infotainment screen – not only is it fairly easy to use but it helps reduce the number of buttons on the dashboard to the bare minimum.
The E-Class has a similarly beautifully made cabin. The latest version of Mercedes’ infotainment system boasts a central LCD screen and a second optional screen behind the dials. This expansive instrument and navigation display gives the E-Class a thoroughly modern feeling cabin.
There’s little to separate the two in terms of interior space. The Volvo offers 500 litres of boot space but the Mercedes sneaks into the lead with a 540-litre capacity. Although the S90’s seats are some of the best available, the E-Class’ longer wheelbase means six-foot back-seat passengers are likely to be more comfortable in the Mercedes.
Volvo S90 vs Mercedes E-Class – driving
Volvo has traditionally focussed on offering a comfortable ride and accurate, if not particularly fun, handling. The firm’s legendary focus on safety means there are lots of driver aids fitted to the S90 to help prevent accidents, including a large animal detection system. Early reports suggest it’s incredibly refined too, and the eight speed automatic gearbox, combined with optional air suspension, should make for an effortless driving experience.
The E-Class’ handling is a match for the S90 but its focus on refinement and comfort means it isn’t as engaging as sportier cars such as the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF. There’s a wide range of safety and driver assistance packages available including the ‘Drive Pilot’ system – using adaptive cruise control this feature allows the E-Class to drive itself on motorways – it can even overtake autonomously at the push of a button.
Volvo S90 vs Mercedes E-Class – engines
The Volvo will be available with two diesel engines and three petrol units. The 2.0-litre D4 and D5 diesel engines are likely to be the best sellers in the UK and come with 187hp and 232hp respectively. The more powerful D5 will be available with an all-wheel drive option. The three petrol engines produce between 251hp and 402hp. The lower-powered T5 and mid range T6 will likely go on sale in the UK but the range-topping T8, with plug-in hybrid technology, could be reserved for the North American market.
Mercedes has only announced the availability of two engine options for the E-Class. The E 220 d has a 2.0-litre diesel engine with 194hp – enough to cover 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds. The E 350 d has a more powerful 258hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel that enables it to complete the same sprint in just 5.9 seconds. More engine options willl be announced in the near future including a petrol version, an E 350 e hybrid and a range-topping AMG E63. Like the Volvo, all-wheel drive is offered as an option on certain engines.
Volvo S90 vs Mercedes E-Class – value for money
Volvo hasn’t yet released prices for the new S90, but entry-level cars are expected to cost at least £32,000. The most expensive versions of the T8 hybrid, should it go on sale in the UK, will probably cost close to £55,000.
The E-Class is currently available in SE or AMG-Line trim. The E 220 d is priced between £35,935 and £38,430, while the E 350 d will set buyers back between £44,930 and £47,425. There will undoubtedly be an extensive options list, but all cars come with an automatic gearbox as standard, unlike the six-speed manual in the cheapest S90.
The D4-powered S90 diesel should return up to 58.9mpg. This is slightly better than the 54.3mpg managed by the Mercedes E 350 d, but lags significantly behind the 72.8mpg-capable E220d. The most fuel efficient option, however, is the Volvo T8 – this version should be capable of more than 150mpg thanks to its plug-in hybrid system.
Volvo S90 vs Mercedes E-Class – verdict
Both of these cars are incredibly talented new vehicles that show off their respective manufacturer’s strong points. The Volvo S90 has a fantastic interior and a high-tech range of engines that promise great performance and fuel economy. If you’re after an elegant and safety focused executive car, the S90 might be the one for you.
The Mercedes E-Class, however, is probably going to be the more popular car of the two, and not just for the fabled three-pointed star on its nose. The stunning cabin, impressive interior space and economical engine should help launch the new E-Class to the top of many buyers wish lists.
Save money on your new executive car
If you’ve decided which car you prefer, check out our Volvo S90 configurator or Mercedes E-Class configurator to find out how much you could save on your next new car. If you’re not sure what to buy next, take a look at our car chooser tool or deals page.