Both the Volvo XC90 and the Audi Q7 will soon be in the second generation at dealerships. What does who offer for the money and above all the question now arises, which of the two is the better SUV? A small comparison can perhaps clarify the question of the better SUV in the luxury class.
The differences begin by the definition of “second generation”. While you can see this at first glance in the Volvo, in the Audi one wonders whether anything has been changed here at all. Well, that Audi has long been held up against the lack of courage to change is an old shoe. Especially since the design of the Volvo XC90 received the Red Dot Design Award and Ingolstadt still has to wait for a less prestigious award.
Nevertheless, the Volvo is really a new generation not only visually, because 99% of the vehicle is new. It starts with the platform, which was a million dollar investment, which now has to pour money into the coffers. Audi is not facing this pressure, because the investments for the Q7 were manageable. The engineers didn’t have to dig deep into their bag of tricks to save weight, because the lightweight materials have been lying around on the shelf for a little longer. The virtual cockpit, for example, was not developed for the Q7 alone, but will gradually fill all Audi models. Further technical refinements in the Audi are simple updates of existing systems.
A glance at the plug-in hybrid alone shows that Audi does not know how to use its modular system properly. While the interior of the Volvo XC90 is not impaired and a third row of seats still exists or can be ordered in the T8 Twin Engine (plug-in hybrid), the Audi no longer offers this option. In other words, the Swedes knew how to cleverly hide the battery in the transmission tunnel, while Ingolstadt – mind you, Vorsprung durch Technik and so on – simply packs the battery in the trunk. Sorry, that is neither a head start nor a technology that does justice to 2015. It’s just embarrassing.
The dwarf screen on the dashboard of the Q7 seems a bit lost compared to the mighty center console. I’m not a fan of pure touchscreen operation and yet the huge tablet in Sweden won me over. In terms of operation, the MMI system in the Audi is still inviolable – especially while driving. But the screen is the same as in the Audi A3 and the latter feels like it fits twice into the Q7. In other words, as the body grows, not only should the center console grow, but the gauges too.
Neither of them can really do off-road, even if they both get a little more level under the body with an (optional) air suspension. It should be enough for the short excursion over muddy dirt roads, but more will never be possible. When it comes to engines, Audi is still keeping quiet about what they want to offer in the Q7. It is clear that the VW Group gives them access to a huge portfolio. The Swedes cannot keep up and concentrate on a few engines that can cope with the weight of the XC90 and, above all, the engines that would be chosen anyway. Even if Audi could build an RS or SQ7, how many people would really buy one. This does not mean who would or could buy it, but who really does it.
In terms of sound, I currently see the XC90 in the lead, because the Bowers&Wilkins System was an experience at the world premiere in Sweden, as well as during the test drives in Spain. And mind you, the sound experience was the same on every seat. Audi is taking a different approach and is primarily concentrating on the two front passengers. What we have already been able to listen to in the technology laboratory, I see subjectively arranged behind the Swede, for the simple reason that it is not a voluminous sound experience, but primarily covers the (driver’s) ears.
Well, and from Volvo’s hobbyhorse, the safety assistant, I don’t even need to begin. Many other manufacturers can learn a lot from passive to active, but they probably don’t want to. Because with Vision 2020, Volvo is the only manufacturer that has made it its mission to no longer cause serious accidents.
You can already read what my Volvo XC90 would look like here in the blog. In order to get an Audi Q7 “beautiful” in my opinion, it would require more than what Audi currently offers in the configurator. I just don’t like it optically, because opinions differ. For 54,300 euros you get an XC90 with 225 hp (diesel engine) and a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission. Audi wants at least 61,890 euros for the Q7, but there is a little more power (272 hp – diesel engine) and two cylinders more. In the unlikely event that you hit the gasoline engine (which is totally crazy) the difference becomes a little smaller. 62,900 euros for the Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI with 333 hp or 57,700 euros for the Volvo XC90 T6 (2.0-liter four-cylinder) with 320 hp.
Ultimately, it is a matter of taste what you choose. Nevertheless, according to Barney Stinson’s “New is always better”, I would not only choose the Sweden, but also because it makes me technically more sophisticated. Or let’s make it very simple: which SUV do you see up front, whether technical or emotional?
More driving reports on the Volvo XC90 T6 or as a video.
Text: Fabian Meßner
Photos: Audi, Volvo