These luxurious saloons seem to have it all. But can the new BMW 520d outshine the equivalent Mercedes-Benz E-Class?
What are they like inside?
The new Mercedes E-Class looks and feels like a junior S-Class from behind the wheel and there aren’t many bigger compliments than that. The giant display that appears to stretch continuously from the middle of the dashboard to behind the steering wheel is an option (you’ll need to add the £1495 Comand infotainment system and the £495 12.3in cockpit to get it) but it’s worth considering because it puts more important information closer to your line of sight. However, if you’re more than six feet tall, you may find the steering wheel blocks your view of some of the instruments.
You’re less likely to have this problem in the BMW5 Series because its front seats drop lower into the car and, if anything, it has an even classier interior. True, it might not be as eye-catching to look at but touch any surface or switch and there’s a real feeling of quality. Prod the E-Class’s dashboard and there’s a disagreeable squeak – something that has been consistent in all of the test cars we’ve had since the model’s launch earlier this year.
Even if you pay extra for the optional Comand system on the E-Class, the 5 Series still has the much better infotainment system. In fact, it’s one of the best we’ve tried, with an extremely slick interface and a clear 10.2in display. You even get live traffic updates and a built-in hard drive to store your music on. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration comes as part of the Comand system on the E-Class and costs £235 on the 5 Series.
Both cars carry four adults easily enough, although rear leg room is less generous in the 5 Series. Equally, rear head room could be better in the E-Class although our car was fitted with an optional panoramic glass roof that comes as part of the £2795 Premium Package, which probably didn’t help. There’s not much in it for outright boot space, but access is better in the 5 Series. The 5 Series’ load bay is also taller and broader at its widest point but tapers to a narrower point just behind the rear seats.