Like cats and dogs, the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class have been fighting for ages now. Regardless of whatever other car comes out in the segment, whether it be the Jaguar XF, Cadillac CTS or even the quite popular Audi A6, it will always be the 5 Series vs the E-Class that people want to see. Just recently, the E-Class started to pull away from the 5er, as it’s brand-new while the 5 Series ages. Now, though, the 5 Series is also all-new, so how do they compare? Whatcar finds out.
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The folks at Whatcar previously did this test with the old F10-generation 5 Series and it came out on top of the brand-new E-Class, despite being significantly older. So it’s safe to assume that the new 5 Series would do the same, only easier right? Well, don’t jump to any conclusions just yet.
Or do, actually, because the BMW 520d dispatched the Mercedes-Benz E220d with relative ease in this new Whatcar test.
In terms of looks, it’s basically a wash because both cars are pretty understated and pretty much what you’d expect from both brands, so it really just comes down to preference. But inside, things get very different. The Mercedes is far flashier and more visually interesting, with nice-looking aluminum and leather. However, it’s not necessarily better looking and those dual screens for the gauge cluster and infotainment system look really tasteless in a luxury car. It’s like those Breitling watches that have the digital readout in the center of the traditional dial. Functional, sure, but they just look out of place. And the materials are lacking in quality just a bit, apparently.
Inside the 5er, it’s a bit calmer and less glitzy but the design is more well thought out and the materials are better. Plus, its iDrive system is far superior to Mercedes’ COMAND system, which feels archaic nowadays.
When it comes to how they ride and drive, the 5 Series wins again. Equipped with the optional variable suspension, the 5er is equal parts luxury and performance. In Comfort mode, it smothers bumps and is genuinely luxurious. But in Sport mode, it stiffens up and becomes fun to drive. The E-Class does have a softer suspension, especially with the 5er wearing 19″ wheels, but that makes it pitch and heave a bit more and actually crash down over really harsh pavement.
This carries over into the way they both handle. The 5 Series has better steering, as it’s more direct and provides a much better response. While the E-Class is incredibly stable at high speed and very easy to drive around town, it’s just not good for driving quickly.
The E-Class does have some good qualities, though. Its 2.0 liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine is just a touch more powerful and smoother than BMW’s, though not by much. It’s also a touch more efficient. It’s also a bit cheaper to own and run in the UK.
However, those qualities aren’t enough to put the E-Class ahead of the 5 Series in this Whatcar test. They claim the 5 Series to have superb steering, handling and ride while also having the better interior. So in their test, while the E-Class is a great car, the new BMW 5 Series is a bit better.