Head to Head: 2017 Volvo S90 T6 vs 2017 Jaguar XF 25t Review

When it comes to executive sedans, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6 are inevitably the usual suspects, and there’s a good reason for that – they are indeed class benchmarks on which others are judged; premium looks, luxurious cabin and advanced technologies.

But what if you want something a little more exclusive, yet still premium and keep up with the Joneses?

Meet the latest fringe players – the fresh off the boat 2017 Volvo S90 and the updated 2017 Jaguar XF.

We all love underdogs in Australia and both models tend to fly under the radar of premium executive sedan buyers but they shouldn’t be. Handsome, powerful and smart. If they were contestants on The Bachelorette, they would be the most popular on the show.

We pitted the S90 T6 against the XF Portfolio 2.5t as they share an almost identical base price of just under $100,000.

At $98,900, the Volvo S90 T6 is the range-topper of the lineup until the plug-in hybrid T8 lobs in later this year. It costs just $1,385 more than its British counterpart, but easily justifies the premium with Dynamic Chassis, Volvo’s full suite of safety system including City Safe, Adaptive Cruise Control with Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Collision Warning.

And then, there’s a crisp 12.3-inch digital driver display, four-zone climate control and powered front seats with driver’s memory – all of which are pricy options on the $97,515 XF Portfolio 25t.

Being one model up from base in the XF lineup, the Portfolio 25t matches the T6 with 19-inch wheels, JaguarDrive Control with Eco, Dynamic, Normal and Winter modes, intelligent stop/start, tyre pressure monitoring system, power bootlid and keyless entry.

It also has a powered tilt and reach adjustable steering column versus the Volvo’s old school manually adjusted column.

Both get sumptuous leather seats, metal pedal covers, illuminated door sills and infotainment systems with sat-nav and bluetooth. The S90’s vertical display is an-inch larger than the standard 8-inch display in the Jag, although our test XF has been optioned with a larger 10.2-inch display at $2,630 that also brings a crisp 12.3-inch digital instruments, 380W Meridian sound system, DAB+ radio and head-up display.

Not to be left out, our S90 tester is also equipped with a raft of eye-wateringly expensive options, including a head-up display ($1,900), 20-inch 8-spoke Silver Diamond Cut alloys ($2,850) and a Bowers and Wilkins sound system ($4,500) amongst others.

All up, our testers come in at a steep $120,555 for the S90, and $118,035 for the XF – all before on-road costs.

Step inside, it is the S90’s interior that impresses. From the iPad-like (both in looks and execution) infotainment system to the luxurious Nappa leather and polished aluminium speaker grilles and door handles, the S90’s cabin oozes class with simplicity. Its dashboard design is more sophisticated and appears better put together compared to the rather conservatively styled cockpit in the XF. Fit and finish is better in the Swede, too, with smaller gaps and better-aligned trim.

There’s nothing wrong with the Jag’s interior though. It’s equally vast and functional and comes with a pair of nicely padded front seats but despite the trick pop-up gear canister and hidey-ho side aircon vents, the XF’s interior presentation is just a little unadventurous. A little too straight-faced British.

The Volvo’s front seats are also invitingly more comfortable especially on longer trips, with lumbar, thigh and side bolster support – the latter which is missing from the XF’s front pews.

Unlike the S90 nicely padded front centre armrest that opens up into a sizeable storage area, the XF’s armrest feels hard and begs for extra padding. Underneath, the tiny space is as useful as a square bowling ball.

Back seat passengers lounge in slightly more legroom in the S90 compared to the XF although the transmission tunnel plays havoc with the centre passenger’s feet on both cars.

For those with young children, the Volvo also gets the convenience of built-in booster seats that pop up with the pull of a lever. Of course, both contestants come with ISOFIX attachment points for child seats.

Both cars offer a decent amount of head and shoulder room, while further aback, the S90 trails the XF in boot space, yielding 500 litres against the XF’s slightly larger 540 litres. Both come with fold down backrests although the XF’s doesn’t fold flat like the S90’s.

The S90 continues to score points underneath the bonnet, featuring Volvo’s 2.0-litre Drive-E 2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder petrol that delivers 235kW at 5,700rpm, and a stout 400Nm of torque at 2,200 to 5,400rpm against the XF’s 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four petrol with just 177kW at 5,500rpm and 340Nm from 1,750 to 4,000rpm.

Both are matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission with the S90 powering all four wheels while the XF drives just the rears.

The extra power and all paw traction means the T6 completes the century sprint in just 5.9 seconds despite being the heavier of the two. The Portfolio 25t takes an extra 1.1 seconds.

Interestingly, the T6 is the thriftier of the two, returning 11.6L/100km in the combined cycle against the lighter and slower 25t at 12.6L/100km. Both cars were put through a similar test route and received a similar amount of pounding.

The Volvo’s engine is also the more refined of the pair, barely audible at idle and devoid of any vibration at stand still. It is a similar story on the move where it seems to be smoother with a more delicate stop/start compared to the Jag’s slightly more abrupt start up.

The S90’s 8-speed auto is better programmed, dropping gears diligently when cornering, while the XF needs to be coerced into doing so via the flappy paddles or throttle kick down. Even then, it isn’t the most responsive unit, feeling a little lazy compared to the S90’s more alert unit.

However, if the S90 has been winning on most fronts thus far, the XF’s secret arsenal is in the way it drives. Put the car into Sport mode and point the big cat’s nose towards the nearest B-roads and the S90 wouldn’t know which way the XF went.

The Jag’s steering is instantaneously more communicative compared to the Volvo’s woody tiller and its drivetrain comes alive like a waking tiger.

With a perfect 50/50 weight distribution and aluminium intensive underpinnings, the XF is 300kg lighter than the S90, giving it a supernaturally agile feel around the bends.

And thanks to the optional sports suspension, vertical body movement is well controlled. Its rear drive layout means the occasional tail wag when exiting a corner never fails to paint a smile on your face.

Its steering is pleasingly fast, meaty and accurate, with plenty of feedback to easily point the XF’s nose almost precisely where you want it to be. It turns in and grip with great alacrity, too.

The S90 on the other hand, feels like middle-aged man who has had one too many fancy burgers. While body control is good and it feels confident around corners, it lacks the XF’s athleticism and agility, not to mention the driver engagement that comes with controls that feels connected to the road. The S90 feels like a bigger and blunter instrument.

But back in the big smoke, the Volvo once again reigns supreme. The T6 is one of the quietest cars we’ve driven. There is little in the way of engine, wind or road noise. It is similarly quiet at freeway speeds. While the XF isn’t as quiet, it is by no means noisy, with a level of hushness appropriate to the segment.

As expected from a Volvo, the S90’s suspension deals with South Australia’s rubbish roads with aplomb, soaking up bumps and ruts like the Cookie Monster munching away at the bitumen. The XF’s firmer suspension on the other hand means occupants feel the road a little more. It’s far from harsh or uncomfortably jiggly, though, but just isn’t as plush as the Swede.


So, there you have it. Two of the most convincing alternatives to the mainstream executive sedans that is tremendously capable of challenging the status quo while being infinitely more exclusive.

But separating both cars is not as easy as it seems.

Both have great road presence and we like the general refinement and comfort in the S90. But the XF is unquestionably the better driver’s car, whereas the Volvo is the nicer place to be in, thanks to its better interior and quieter cabin.

For us, driving usually takes priority but even that is not enough to hand victory to the XF. The S90 is just the better overall package of luxury, refinement, comfort and handling – qualities for the most eligible bachelor. By the slightest margin.

2017 Jaguar XF Portfolio 25t

2017 Volvo S90 T6

Design and Comfort:8.08.5
Performance & Handling:8.07.5
Features & Equipment:8.08.0

2017 Jaguar XF Portfolio 25t pricing and specification

Pricing (Excluding on-road costs):From $97,515

As tested: $118,035*

*Tested options:

·      Rear comfort pack (heated front and rear seats, 4-zone climate control, electric rear window sunblind) – $4,210

·      Electric tilt/slide sunroof – $3,300

·      InControl Touch Pro SSD Nav Pack (InControl Touch Pro 10.2” Touch-screen, 12.3” HD Virtual Instrument Display, SSD Navigation Tuner and Meridian Digital Sound System (380W), DAB+ Radio, Head-up Display – $2,630

·      Digital TV Tuner – $2,160

·      Dark Sapphire Metallic Paint – $2,060

·      Soft Door Close – $1,340

·      Air Quality Sensor & Cooled Glove Box – $1,030

·      Privacy glass – $930

·      14-way electric front luxury seats – $820

·      Driver and Passenger seat memory – $640

·      InControl Apps – $590

·      Sport Suspension – $500

·      Premium carpet mats – $310

Warranty:3 years/unlimited kilometres
Warranty Customer Assistance:3 year roadside
Country of Origin:United Kingdom
Service Intervals:12 months/16,000km
Engine:2.0-litre in-line 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol:

177kW @ 5,500rpm, 340Nm @ 1,750-4,000rpm

Transmission:8-speed automatic
Drivetrain:Rear-wheel drive
Power-to-weight Ratio (W/kg):114.7
Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):Claimed: 7.5 / Tested: 12.6
RON Rating:95
Fuel Capacity (L):74
Safety:5-star ANCAP, 6 airbags, ABS, BA, EBD, ESC, Lane Departure Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Torque Vectoring by Braking, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, adaptive lighting, turning light and automatic high beam assist, reverse camera, front and rear parking sensors, ISOFIX
Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:4,954/1,987/1,457/2,960
Tare Mass (kg):1,543
Towing Capacity (kg):N/A
Entertainment:8-inch InControl touch SD Navigation, AM/FM, Bluetooth, USB, AUX, iPod

2017 Volvo S90 T6 pricing and specification

Pricing (Excluding on-road costs):From $98,900

As tested: $120,555*

*Tested options:

·       Heated front seats: $650

·       Sunroof: $3,000

·       Head-up Display: $1,900

·       360o Camera: $1,750

·       Sunblind rear side door windows: $500

·       Leather Instrument Panel: $2,500

·       20-inch 8-spoke silver diamond cut alloy wheels: $2,850

·       Laminated side windows: $750

·       Metal mesh décor inlays: No cost

·       Power folding rear backrest: $250

·       Single CD Player: $160

·       Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system: $4,500

·       Apple CarPlay: $300

·       Power cushion extension: $645

·       Metallic Paint: $1,900

Warranty:3 years/unlimited kilometres
Warranty Customer Assistance:3 year roadside
Country of Origin:Sweden
Service Intervals:12 months/15,000km
Engine:2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged, direct injected 4-cylinder petrol:

235kW @ 5,700rpm, 400Nm @ 2,200-5,400rpm

Transmission:8-speed automatic
Drivetrain:All-wheel drive
Power-to-weight Ratio (W/kg):127.5
Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):Claimed: 7.5/Tested: 11.6
RON Rating:Petrol: 95
Fuel Capacity (L):71
Safety:5-star ANCAP, 7 airbags, City Safe, ACC, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake including Queue Assist, Lane Keeping Aid, Distance Alert, BLIS, CTA, EBA, Emergency Brake Light, Hill start assist, front and rear parking sensors, ISOFIX, rear parking camera
Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:4,963/1,879/1,443/2,941
Tare Mass (kg):1,843
Towing Capacity (kg):Braked: 1,800/Unbraked: 750
Entertainment:9-inch vertical touch screen with satellite navigation, road sign information and voice control, AM/FM Radio, MP3, 10 speakers, USB, AUX and iPod connectivity

Competitors: Audi A6BMW 5 SeriesLexus GS, Infiniti Q70, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volvo S90

2017 Jaguar XF Portfolio 25t

2017 Volvo S90 T6

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