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Car group tests

Mercedes E-Class Estate vs Volvo V90

Mercedes and Volvo both have strong load-lugging legacies to build on, but can the stylish new E-Class Estate see off the V90?

Few manufacturers have the rich estate car history of Mercedes. For decades, the German brand has been delivering versatile load-luggers that combine unrivalled carrying capacity with considerable upper class appeal – so the arrival of a new E-Class Estate is big news. The previous generation was one of the roomiest cars money could buy, so the newcomer has big boots to fill.

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However, the initial signs are promising, as the four-door saloon it’s based on is our current executive car champion, having scooped class honours at our New Car Awards ceremony. Combine that car’s style, luxury, comfort and low running costs with the family-friendly versatility of an estate, and you’re surely on to a winner.

If there’s one firm with an even stronger track record with estate cars, though, it’s Volvo. The brand’s latest flagship wagon is the V90, which arrived only a few months ago and went on to take a maiden road test victory against the Audi A6 Avant. It’s not the most cavernous machine, but its blend of eye-catching design, classy interior, lengthy kit list and thoughtful touches makes it an extremely desirable choice, and a tough rival for the new Mercedes.

• Best estate cars on the market

So, which of our great estates will carry off the winner’s trophy?

Head-to-head

Space race

If it’s maximum carrying capacity you’re after, then the Mercedes wins hands down. Its maximum volume of 1,820 litres is not far off some MPV models, while the load area is well shaped. However, it’s the V90 that gets more handy features, such as a boot floor load divider and an automatic load cover.

Emissions

The Volvo leads the way here with its impressive CO2 emissions figure of 119g/km, which is 1g/km lower than the Mercedes. Yet if you go for the £37,935 E 220d SE, that drops to just 109g/km. This reduction is almost completely down to the  smaller 17-inch alloys. 

Self-drive tech

Thanks to its standard Drive Pilot set-up, the V90 can travel at up to 80mph without assistance. A similar set-up is available on the new E-Class, but only as part of the £1,695 Driving Assistance Plus upgrade. 

Verdict

First place: Volvo V90

The V90 continues its winning streak. It’s not the most spacious, but it’s big enough and packed with handy features. This versatility is combined with handsome looks, a classy interior and relaxed driving that puts the emphasis on comfort. Factor in the Volvo’s more attractive price, longer list of more desirable kit and more wallet-friendly running costs, and it’s a worthy winner.

Second place: Mercedes E-Class Estate

If outright space is top of your list, then the Mercedes E-Class estate is still king. However, this extra capacity comes at a cost – not only is the Mercedes more expensive to buy and run, you’ll have to splash out on options to match the V90’s specification. The E-Class is sleek, refined, beautifully finished and good to drive, but in AMG-Line trim it represents poor value.

Is it worth waiting for this model? 

Jaguar XF Sportbrake

Jaguar XF Sportbrake spy shot - front

Due: Late 2017  Price: £34,000Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 178bhp 

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Combining the XF saloon’s style, sophistication and polished drive with an added dose of practicality, the new Sportbrake – revealed in this official spy shot – promises to live up to Jaguar’s old motto of “grace, pace and space”.

Figures

 Volvo V90 D5 InscriptionMercedes E 220d AMG-Line Estate
On the road price/total as tested£37,555/£37,555£40,725/£50,335
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£18,177/48.4%£17,593/43.2%
Depreciation£19,378£23,132
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,725/£3,450£1,952/£3,905
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,365/£2,276£1,336/£2,227
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost28/£774/C/£3031/£923/C/£30
Servicing costs£956 (3yrs/54k)£37p/m (3yrs)
   
Length/wheelbase4,936/2,941mm4,933/2,939mm
Height/width1,475/1,895mm1,475/1,852mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,969cc4cyl in-line/1,950cc
Peak power/revs187/4,250 bhp/rpm191/3,800 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 400/1,750 Nm/rpm400/1,600 Nm/rpm
Transmission 8-spd man/fwd9-spd man/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel55 litres/foam66 litres/foam
Boot capacity (seats up/down)560/1,526 litres640/1,820 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,696/577/1,800kg1,780/670/2,100kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient11.4 metres/0.30Cd11.6 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (unltd)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers18,000 miles (1yr)/11415,500 miles (1yr)/147
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.13th/17th12th/20th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/starsN/A95/90/77/62/5 (2016)
   
0-60/30-70mph7.3/7.1 secs7.6/7.3 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.2/4.1 secs3.1/4.3 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th/9th5.1/6.1/8.1/11.1 secs6.0/7.5/10.2s/N/A/N/A
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 140mph/1,500rpm146mph/1,500rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 42.0/27.9/8.0m43.0/29.3/8.6m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph72/51/59/69dB69/44/60/69dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range45.5/10.0/550 miles46.5/10.2/675 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 54.3/68.9/62.8mpg62.8/72.4/67.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 11.9/15.2/13.8mpl13.8/15.9/14.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket166/119g/km/23%163/120g/km/24%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/y/y/£400Seven/yes/yes/yes
Auto/stab/adaptive cruise ctrl/AEB*Yes/yes/yes/yesY/y/£1,695**/y
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/yes/yesYes/£1,595/yes
Met paint/LEDs/keyless go/pw t’gate£700/yes/yes/yes£645/y/£2,795^/y
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
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