Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz debuted its new E-Class. It looks great, if a bit uninspiring, has a lovely cabin and filled with tremendous technology. When it debuted, many were quick to name it the king of the segment, besting the F10-generation BMW 5 Series and current Audi A6. But the Bavarians weren’t just going to let Mercedes run away with the segment without a fight. So it hit back with the new G30-generation BMW 5 Series.
Automobile Magazine recently put both new cars back-to-back against each other to see which new car is best. In both cases, they picked the most common variant of each car in Europe, the BMW 530d and Mercedes-Benz E350d. So let’s see what they found.
Both cars pack 3.0 liter turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engines, with BMW’s typically sporting six inline cylinders and Mercedes using two banks of three in a “V”. Both even put out similar power figures, with the BMW making 265 hp and the Benz making 258 hp and both cars putting out an identical 457 lb-ft of torque.
BMW sends its power through a ubiquitous eight-speed ZF-sourced automatic transmission while Mercedes sends its diesel ponies through a nine-speed unit built in-house. In this case, the Merc powers just its rear wheels while the BMW powers all four, via xDrive. This allows the BMW 530d to get from 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds, compared to the Mercedes-Benz E350d’s 5.8 seconds. That makes both of these cars remarkably close in engines, power and performance, so there’s really not much in it. So it really comes down to how they drive.
Automobile took these two cars through miles and miles of twisty German roads, over various road surfaces and also on the Autobahn, to test them in every possible scenario.
Over twisty roads, the nod was given to the BMW 530d. Its steering is better, with sharper and more direct responses and its chassis is more dynamic and fun to drive. It’s the better driver’s car of the two. Its engine was also said to be better, with better noises, smoother power delivery and better performance. It also has the more driver-oriented cabin. It’s clear the 5 Series is the driver’s car of the bunch.
But what really surprised was that Automobile felt the 5er was better to relax in as well. Over choppy pavement, the BMW responded better, as its chassis was less upset and its suspension less effected by road imperfections. The Merc rides really well, especially on the optional air suspension, but was upset more by imperfect roads and the Bimmer had more composure.
In terms of interior luxury and technology, Automobile felt that BMW had finally matched Mercedes in terms of interior quality. Whereas BMW’s technology can be overwhelming at times, with its new iDrive system having four different ways to control it (iDrive controller, touchscreen, Gesture Control and steering wheel buttons), its interior is finally up to par with that of Mercedes’. However, where Mercedes has always excelled, in quiet, luxurious cabins, the BMW actually bests it. The 5 Series is considered the more quiet and comfortable car to be in for long stretches of time.
After 600 miles of driving both cars, Automobile came up with their answer — the BMW 530d is the better car. According to them, it’s a close race but one that BMW wins definitively. Why? Because it’s the “more rewarding” car to drive.[Source: Automobile Magazine]