Volvo S60 vs Mercedes C-class vs BMW 3 series

Since the time the Volvo S60 has debuted in the Indian car market, it is almost like Volvo India have set in a car amongst the pigeons. Whilst the other cars in its category harp on their German routes and attention to detail, Volvo S60 in India brings in a welcome cheerfulness to the equation. So it is eventually inevitable that we bring to our readers a comparison of how the Volvo S60 stacks up against its competition. The competition here is from the BMW 3 series and the Mercedes C-class, the two highest sales rakers for their respective manufacturers. Since statistics say that most buyers in this class prefer diesel cars, we have taken all the three top end diesel versions of the cars and have compared them here. So in come the Volvo S60 D5, Mercedes C220 CDI and the BMW 320D. Except for the Volvo, all the other 2 are dated and would go in for a replacement very soon. Moreover we have reviews or test drive reports of all the three cars on our blog, individually. The current segment leader of course is the BMW 3 series. So the gong rings and the battle starts to find out if the BMW 3 series throne has been usurped by the Volvo S60.

Looks

Volvo S60 D5 : The Volvo S60 D5 in India is the newest kid on the block. It has got that stout boot and also the longest hood of the trio here. The change in Volvo’s design team has brought about a sea change about the perception that one has for the Scandinavian designs. The Volvo also looks the freshest amongst the three. The only fly that is there in the ointment is the largish Volvo logo. Some one should tell Volvo that they need to go in for a new brand image as well. The 17 inch wheels do a good job of masking the flared wheel arches. The coupe like stance coupled with the inverted tail lamps and the twin tail pipes lend an air of distinctiveness to this car. Oh, mimicking the BMW design is a Hofmeister kink at the rear.

Mercedes C220 CDI : The Mercedes C220 CDI in India is a dated design and now the oversized three pointed star on the grille also looks a bit awkward. The head lamps however aren’t too big and they flank the 3 pieced grille. The wing mirrors are shared with the other Mercedes cars whereas the 17 inch wheels at the best, look stately. The rear of the car also looks a bit bland now however the chrome tipped single tail pipe is the talking point with its chunky character. One thing is for sure. No matter to whichever strata of the society you belong to, a 3 pointed star announces to everyone that you have arrived in life.

BMW 320D : The BMW 320D in India looks the most dated out of this trio however it is the twin corona lamps which save the day for it. The twin kidney grille and the crystal clear fog lamps do show the sinister intent of this car. If the Volvo and Mercedes look kind of stately, the BMW is the ruffian. The 16 inch run flats look as if the tyres are actually punctured. However the alloy wheel design is bit refreshing than what the others in this comparison promise. The all LED lights at the rear also cut the monotony of the design a bit. BMW’s trademark Hofmeister kink is also present. There is a single tail pipe doing duties though and that coming from a BMW is disappointing.

Needless to say, the Volvo S60 D5 in India wins this round followed closely by the Mercedes and then the BMW.

Interiors

Volvo S60 D5 : Opening the doors of the Volvo reveal a cabin which is pleasantly different from the Germans. It is usually noticed that  people have an affinity for German cars but then not so much anymore. The Volvo has got seats which beg one to sit in them. The half wood and half leather combination works to its advantage plus the floating central console. However there are a tad too many buttons flocking the central console and also understanding them takes a bit of time. The steering wheel also feels a bit largish but then it accommodates not only the regular gadgets but also some of the essential safety features of the car. The build quality is also impressive with all the panel gaps tightly concealed. Seats are an all electric affair whereas the rear ones are most comfortable in this class. However leg space is at a premium at the rear and Volvo’s intention of directly hitting at BMW with its driver centric car is evident here. Boot space is also good at 380 liters however the split seating at the rear helps the Volvo to accommodate more, should the need arise. Oh, did we forget to mention that the Volvo also gets the best clocks in this comparison.

Mercedes C220 CDI : The Mercedes C220 CDI in India now gets silver inserts in the clock design. They somehow make this car detract to from the luxury feel. The front seat takes a tad bit of time getting into and finding the ideal driving position. Though the steering wheel is large and 4 spoked, the controls on it come in the way of the horn. The C220 CDI gets the COMAND system which Mercedes offers in its cars however it isn’t a user friendly device. The Merc also features seat adjustments on the side of the doors. The utility aspect has been taken care of with the Mercedes C220 offering many cup holders and deep door map pockets. If Mercedes were planning to project this car as chauffer driven, then may be they have got it wrong since the C class doesn’t boast of good space and the new Volvo offers slightly more room. Boot space is in the region of 475 liters and this is the biggest offering in this class. Moreover the boot is highly usable due to the lack of suspension intrusions.


BMW 320D : The BMW 320D in India features a set of boring meter dials however the rest of the package indicates high quality. The front seat is very comfortable even for taller drivers whereas the overall layout of the dash is also user friendly. The Idrive system now boasts of easier controls plus accessing it on the go isn’t a problem anymore. BMW have also offered deeper door map pockets, cup holders and glove box. The rear seat as we have experienced in the Surat Auto Expo, was also commendable. Infact it boasts of a better space utilization than the Mercedes. It is more in the ball park of the Volvo but then the Bimmer offers just a wee bit space more. Boot space of 460 liters isn’t as usable as the others in this comparison.

It would be the Volvo S60 D5 again for the number of features it offers with the BMW coming in second and Merc last.

Handling and ride quality

Volvo S60 D5 : The Volvo S60 D5 in India is a monocoque construction which has got McPherson strut with stabilizer bar in the front and independent suspension with stabilizer bar at the rear. The steering wheel is communicative enough but then as speeds rise, it doesn’t project perfect feedback. The suspension has been tuned to be on the softer side and this shows when the car absorbs all the bumps thrown its way and doesn’t even protest a bit. It also eliminates the heaving and pitching action that one experiences under heavy braking. Handling is also good and driving this car is overall an enjoyable experience. NVH is also pretty much damped and one would be hard pressed to tell if it’s a diesel or petrol motor under the hood. Its only at elevated speeds and that is to be expected, that the diesel clatter filters in the cabin.

Mercedes C220 CDI : The Mercedes C220 CDI in India comes with a Mcpherson strut coupled with a torsion bar in front and Multilink torsion bar at the rear. This package is also setup to be on the softer side however the C class deals with potholes in the same manner as the Bavarian. It crashes into potholes. The steering wheel is ultra light and remains the same even at elevated speeds which robs the confidence of pushing the car to its limits. The handling is soggy with the car protesting under hard cornering. What is commendable is that the NVH characteristics of this car are the lowest amongst this class. The engine is the smoothest as well.
BMW 320D : The BMW 320D in India comes with double pivot struts in front and Multi link coupled with anti roll bars in the rear. This setup is on the stiffer side and hence keeping occupants isolated from the road irregularities is one of the least concerns of this car. It is not that it doesn’t absorb bumps but the run flats also contribute to the harsh ride quality. However once the speeds rise, the ride quality becomes absorbent. It is this stiff setup which allows this rear wheel driven car to be enjoyed to the maximum amongst hilly sections. The steering is very precise and brimming with feedback. However it is a bit too heavy at parking speeds and this makes it tiresome in the city. NVH is on the lower side for most part of the drive however once past the 4200 rpm mark, the BMW motor is on full song and one which everyone would unanimously like.


Combining a mix of good handling and ride quality, the Volvo S60 D5 wins this round and this time also it’s the Merc which is following the Bimmer.

Engine, performance and fuel efficiency

Volvo S60 D5 : The Volvo comes with a familiar diesel engine which is present under the hood of almost all the Volvo cars in India. The 2.4 liters engine gets 5 cylinders and longitudinal installation. This engine makes 205 Bhp of power and 420 Nm of torque. It is mated to a 6 speed automatic transmission. The engine is very lively and takes this car from 0-100 kmph in only 7.1 seconds. Arguably, it is the fastest in this test. The gear box is also no laggard and downshifts immediately. It also has a higher top speed than the others in this comparison at 225 kmph. Brakes are a bit wooden though and take a bit of getting used to. However one thing is for sure, even if you don’t apply the brakes, this car has the potential to stop itself and that is really an eerie experience. ABS and ESP also complement the brakes. The most number of safety features that one can find as options in many of the cars are standard in this one. Also there are some unique ones which you can read in the Volvo S60 test drive. Fuel efficiency as certified by ARAI stands at 14.7 kmpl.

Mercedes C220 CDI : The Mercedes is available with a 2148 cc engine with 4 cylinders. This engine makes 170 Bhp of power and 410 Nm of torque. It is mated with an old school 5 speed transmission. The Merc crosses the 0-100 kmph mark in 9.3 seconds and maxes out at a top speed of 215 kmph. The gear box is a laggard and best left in the auto mode. Putting sports mode doesn’t bring about any significant change. This engine is the epitome of smoothness though. Brakes are good and do the job of stopping the car quite well. The all wheel discs are assisted by ABS and ESP. ESP can be turned off via a switch on the console. Safety aspects also have been duly covered in this Merc however the safety features are not as abundant as in the Volvo. Fuel efficiency as quoted by ARAI is 14.2 kmpl.

BMW 320D : The BMW 320D also gets an age old engine which has a capacity of 1995 cc and is capable enough to produce 177 Bhp of power as also 350 Nm of torque. It gets a 6 speed auto for handling the transmission duties. Though it may be lacking in power or even the torque as compared to the Volvo, it stays right on the tail of the Volvo during the comparison. The transmission is a tad better than the Volvo and this helps immensely to propel this Bimmer from naught to 100 in only 8.2 seconds. It achieves a top speed of 217 kmph. Brakes are the best in the Bimmer with the all wheel discs giving a perfect feel of being in control at all the times. There are many electronic aids present in this car which help accentuate the perfection in its stopping prowess. Safety is also at par with the Mercedes if not a bit more. Fuel efficiency is also the highest in this comparison at an ARAI certified 16.2 kmpl.

The BMW 320D wins this round simply because its engine is more fuel efficient and also induces more smiles while driving than the others. It is followed by the Volvo and then the Mercedes.

Verdict

Well, the outcome is quite clear. The BMW 320D is no longer the segment king and the Swedish Volvo has toppled it from its perch. The reason is that the exclusivity factor works for the Volvo. Moreover, it has some of the best safety features that one can buy in the world. Space and image aren’t also an image with this car. It gives nearly the same driving pleasure as a BMW. The only thing that seems to be a problem in the Volvo setting the sales chart on fire is the fact that they don’t have a brand presence in India and plus it is the costliest in this comparison. The Volvo S60 D5 price in India is Rs 37 lakhs. The BMW on the other hand has been relegated to the second spot. If you are looking for a sporty sedan, then your search should end with the BMW. It has also got good fuel efficiency to boot for. But then ride quality is highly compromised. It is also expensive by any standards retailing at Rs 35.7 lakhs. The Mercedes C class has been relegated to oblivion with the onslaught of fellow Germans, a Brit and now a Swede. It is for those looking for a no frills sedan and one with a 3 pointed star on the nose. The very fact that it is the least pricey amongst the trio might make it appealing to some. The Mercedes C220 CDI price in India is Rs 30.2 lakhs. All these prices are on-road prices in Mumbai.

2 Replies to “Volvo S60 vs Mercedes C-class vs BMW 3 series”

  1. Hi everyone. Am from Tamilnadu. NIce topic. I have been on both the cars and both are real competitors.
    BMW: As far as Bmw is considered it is well recieved by younsters for its aggressive looks and speed. The interior offers xtra ordinary quality which comes unmatched in any other luxury products. BMW basically focuses on Speed and handling rather suited only for Youngsters who love real power. And in cities it isnt any better than a Toyota Corolla. Breaking and road grips are of course impressive. On the whole it is just for youngsters.

    Merc: the oldest German can manunctionand one of the top class car manufacturers. As far as the C class is concerned, it is for people who love ride quality and enjoy driving them rather than being on a beast with a cost irrespective of age. To be simple, it’s just like a real hero who doesnt speak much and shows it in action. Whether Good or bad roads, Benz offers the same ride quality. And the interiors are far more mature which gives u a feel at home rather than attraction like a Bmw. Road grip and Breaking, its always the best feauture of any Merc product till date. Handling and comfort is something about which i was impressed the most. i didnt realize that i was driving at 135kms. felt very comfortable. And mileage its of course better like the 3 series. but on highways its far impressive. when it comes to transmission, am sorry merc is far ahead than a BMW. but acceleration is a bit slow than a BMW to be true.

    And in our city we have 22 Merc, 5 BMW’s. This must show which is more successfull.
    So the bottomline is simple. Both are real competitors and both are capable of satisfying handlers. But only the Benz has the attitude to go with the prize and Speed. For people who need power, a tuned version of C class wud prove better than a 3 series. And if u give me a choice, i wud sure go with the MERC. For people who value their money spent, a MERC does it all.

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