The Executive Lounge - BMW 530i Sedan M Sport vs Volvo S90 T6 Inscription

clifford chow
5 Sep 2017

While both sedans do look the part and do have their own commanding road presence, stepping into both cars reveals two different animals

There are two executive sedans which certainly excite me when doing a comparison, the middle-of-the-middle BMW 530i and Volvo’s range-topping S90 T6 sedans, the latter being interesting when a car manufacturer steps up in their game, and dares stand toe-to-toe with the industry stalwarts.

Both are so different, yet the thought of a high-powered four-banger delivering the goods in traditionally what would have been six-cylinder naturally aspirated territory. These modern right-sized engines do have some big shoes to fill; catering to a market which in-turn would likely love that more direct engine response, and the magic of six-cylinder smoothness.

The BMW 530i carries on it a two litre engine with four cylinders in front, mounted North-South fashion with a turbo charger to bring up the power and torque, delivering power to the rear wheels, via an eight-speed transmission. Well yeah, rear-driven, traditional… oversteer-y… nice.

Then there is Volvo’s S90 T6. Volvo has upped the game, by fielding their boldest car yet. Taking over the reins from the S80’s flagship sedan duties, the S90 is quite the departure from the old car. Under the hood, a 2.0 four cylinder sits with a turbocharger to provide the boost, in tandem with a supercharger to ensure that there is no lag taking off from the lights. The Volvo transmission, like the BMW, has eight ratios, but this time, turning all four wheels.

We certainly love how the cars have been styled. Our test Beemer sits on the firmer M Sport suspension and 19” rims (the 540i gets the larger 20” wheels). Other M Sport goodies visible are the more aggressive front and rear bumpers. Styling elements like their twin Hofmeister Kink at the “C” pillar, shoulders running from the front fender and into the tail lamps of the car, and not forgetting that diagonal blade covering the air curtain exit vent, similar to the Seven Series “hockey stick” (but in their case, just a blade) gives the fiver its identity.

Volvo on the other hand did not opt for such aggressive styling cues. While like BMW, the Swedes have stuck to tradition with their design language for the S90. A waterfall grille with twenty-one bars, relatively new to Volvo, is the “Thor’s Hammer” styled daytime running lights. Retained here are the bulging shoulders, giving the impression of a safe car, which this Volvo really is. Tail lamps are “C” shaped and flank ‘VOLVO’ branding on the boot lid.

While both sedans do look the part and do have their own commanding road presence, stepping into both cars reveals two different animals.

The 5 Series impresses with features like Gesture Controls for mobile call pick-up, rejection and volume adjustments. Cruise Control that adapts to your immediate situation, a wireless mobile charging point, which doubles as a charger for their very (very) large key, and also little unseen items like two different scents from their Ambient Air Package to perfume the cabin. There are plenty of piano black mouldings coating parts of the dash, which can fall victim to scratching if you are not careful but overall, switchgear and dash quality is very good.

Front seats are supportive, and actually do hold you into place, almost as good as what a sports car would.  Rear passengers benefit from air-conditioning vents located at the rear of the centre storage box. Legroom for all passengers is top notch, with 2,975mm between the wheels, which BMW had done a good job of distributing the legroom.

Volvo on the other hand, has gone pretty bold with their interior styling. Just about everywhere you look, is a visual treat for the eyes. From open-pore wood veneers which you can spec, where the Swedish manufacture had taken the pains to match and point the wood grain at opposing 45 degree angles on both sides of the dash, which confluences in the middle. Plenty of shiny bits of metal and even tightly engineered rotary air-conditioning vents that close with a reassuring click.

Their touchscreen, takes centre stage, and is larger than the one found in the BMW, and we do admit, that the display is a little bit more user friendly than the German car’s. A little touch which I did like was the on/off switch, which is a metal knob at the base of the centre console, a step away from convention.

Like the BMW, the Volvo does include its own version of Adaptive Cruise Control, parking assistance and adaptive headlamps. At 2,941mm, the slightly shorter wheelbase does not seem to make much of a difference with the interior space when compared to the fiver. In-fact, rear legroom is abundant.

The S90’s boot space is pretty good, at 500 litres, with a nearly square loading area, however the 530i does this a little better with 30 litres more in utility space.

While both cars have a 2.0 four cylinder force fed engine under the hood, BMW’s engine produces a respectable 248bhp and very good torque at 350Nm. Volvo on the other hand delivers the goods with the additional benefit of supercharging. BMW gets its maximum torque from a low 1,450rpm, the Volvo turns on the taps to full at 2,200rpm, but however, thanks to the supercharging, there is a noticeable build-up of torque below this. Century sprint timings for both cars are rather close, with the BMW doing a respectable 6.2 seconds, while the S90 pips it just, at 5.9 seconds.

Well the differences do not just stop there, while the BMW might be slightly slower, with the M Sport suspension, it does feel very nimble, with the car gladly responding to directional changes, turn in and accelerate, and the rear wheels respond with a slight outward push, ever-so slightly turning the front end in. There is some very high tech noise insulation which has been deployed for the 5 Series, the Special Synergy Thermoacoustic Capsule does considerably reduce the noise produced by the engine, while keeping the weight of the car down, with just a little of that engine note streaming in if you rev the 2.0 past 3,500rpm.

Volvo on the other hand does all this differently. The air suspension, while adjustable as well, delivers a more comfortable ride, plant the car in “sports” and you will find that while the car still does what it is told, there is a little bit of softness to the ride, with the front end responding gently to any undulating terrain it meets with a bit of a waft. The all-wheel drive system does mean that the Swedish executive sedan corners in a more natural fashion.

While the BMW does want to be driven a little harder, and you would feel the want for switching to sport mode often but yes, it does have comfort mode too, the Volvo on the other hand does not encourage you to flip into sports mode, but instead enjoy the ride, like it was meant to be.

We simply feel that the Volvo in this case has delivered the premium goods, with very good looks and with interior quality (the place you would be enjoying the most anyway) much better than that offered by the 530i.

The 530i works hard to give you that engging drive and it certainly entertains. But in this segment we feel, a car should spoil you a little more when it comes to comfort and interiorbuild, and Volvo’s top of the line flagship sedan certainly offers all of that. 

Click here to read more about the BMW 530i
Click here to read more about the Volvo S90 T6 

Car Loan Calculator - Volvo S90 T6 Inscription (A)

SGD 232,000 (21 Nov 2019)

Based on OMV, this car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

Car Loan Calculator - BMW 5 Series 530i Sedan M

SGD 283,888 (21 Nov 2019)

Based on OMV, this car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

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Engine Capacity 1969cc TurbochargedSupercharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Bore x Stroke (82 x 93.2)mm
Power 320bhp @ 5700rpm
Torque 400Nm @ 2200rpm
Power to Weight 169.1 bhp per ton


Acceleration 5.9s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 250 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 13.3 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto
Drive Type F4
Steering Electric


Body Type Sedan
(L x W x H)
(4963 x 1879 x 1443) mm
Wheelbase 2941 mm
Turning Circle 11.4 metres
Kerb Weight 1892 kg
Boot Capacity 500 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 60 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs


Engine Capacity 1998cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10.2:1
Bore x Stroke (94.6 x 82.0)mm
Power 248bhp @ 5200rpm
Torque 350Nm @ 1450rpm
Power to Weight 153.6 bhp per ton


Acceleration 6.2s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 250 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 16.1 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Steptronic Transmision
Drive Type FR
Steering Electric


Body Type Sedan
(L x W x H)
(4936 x 1868 x 1460) mm
Wheelbase 2975 mm
Kerb Weight 1615 kg
Boot Capacity 530 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 68 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs