For decades, if you wanted a mid-size executive luxury car, you bought one of two cars: the BMW 5 Series or the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Though, if you wanted to lean more toward sporty handling, rather than absolute luxury, it was always the 5er that you wanted. Still is, in fact. However, there are more newcomers in this space than ever before. So Auto Express put the BMW 5 Series up against two new entries into the segment — the Volvo S90 and Lexus ES.
The Volvo S90 has actually been out for some time now but it’s still one of the newest cars to the segment. While the Lexus ES typically competes in a less premium class of car, it seems as if Lexus wants to move it a bit upmarket and compete with the bigger players.
In this test, the BMW 5 Series is represented by a 520d M Sport, so it gets a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel and some sporty looks. It’s also rear-wheel drive, making it a bit of an outlier in this comparison. The Volvo S90 also uses a 2.0 liter turbo-four diesel and gets a sporty R-Design package to go along with the 5er’s M Sport. In terms of powertrain, the Lexus ES is the outlier, with its hybrid setup. The Lexus ES 300h is the only model available in the UK, which is why it was used in the test, and it gets a 2.5 liter four-pot with a hybrid electric motor.
Both the Lexus and the Volvo are front-wheel drive but it’s only in the Lexus where that’s a hindrance. The Volvo S90 actually handles quite well and is fun to drive. While the Lexus has vague steering and a floaty suspension that isn’t actually very comfortable over really rough bumps. The Volvo irons out bumps nicely and is actually more comfortable than the Lexus while being more fun to drive, though.
But the BMW 5 Series wins this test. It’s the most fun car to drive by far and actually has the best suspension. It’s just as comfortable as the Volvo while being more agile and fun to drive. And it’s just better than the Lexus ES in every way. The Swede is a great choice, though, as it looks the best and has a very slick interior, while also being great to drive. The Bimmer is just a bit better.