The very latest new 5 Series ought to see off the established E-Class. Oughtn’t it?
So the old 5 Series could beat the current E-Class. Which ought to mean that the brand spanking new 5 Series gives the E-Class an almighty beating. But reality is a tricky thing. Let’s see what actually happened.
Engine and performance
Both these executive saloons have 2.0-litre diesel engines, with the same torque figure, although the BMW gives away just a few horses to the Mercedes. The result on the road in that important 30-70mph acceleration zone is that the Mercedes does edge ahead. Its nine-speed auto box is smooth and lets you accelerate away without a moment’s hesitation.
The BMW isn’t far behind, and its eight-speed box is actually even better, helped by somehow always seeming to be in the right gear. But there’s no getting away from it, the BMW is watching the Mercedes-Benz ahead of it.
BMW 520d SE
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Top speed: 146mph
Gov’t fuel economy: 68.8mpg
True MPG: 43.5mpg
CO2 emissions: 108g/km
Ride and handling
Throw in some twisting roads, though, and the BMW starts to play its ace. It handles, steers and generally just drives so well on country lanes that it’s hard to believe you’re in such a big executive car. Where the BMW is knocking off speed at an impressive pace and then powering through with virtually flat body angles, the Mercedes is wallowing about rather more, and losing ground.
Ride quality is important in this class of car, and BMW doesn’t always score top marks here. Lowering the scores in this instance were 19-inch wheels – they’re just too big and allow road imperfections through. So, stick with 18-inch wheels and, as in this case, add the £985 Variable Damper Control suspension, and you’ll be just floating along.
That’s all very well, adding nearly a grand’s worth of extras just to improve the ride, but even if you add the Air Body Control to the E-Class you’re still not going to get a ride as comfortable as in the BMW. And Air Body Control costs £1495.
Mercedes E 220 d SE
Engine: 2.0-litre diesel
Top speed: 149mph
Gov’t fuel economy: 72.4mpg
True MPG: 44.8mpg
CO2 emissions: 102g/km
These things matter to the occupants, the passengers possibly more so than the driver. Either car can take four in real comfort, although the BMW has the less generous rear legroom. But the BMW has a seriously classy cabin, made with top-notch materials. It also has the best infotainment system in the business, and a great 10.2-inch display.
The E-Class looks brilliant in the guise of the test car, with that giant digital display seemingly sweeping across at least half the dashboard. It works really well but you do pay for it. So that’s another £1495 for the Comand infotainment system and another £495 for the 12.3-inch cockpit. However, if you’re looking for an eye-catching cabin then the E-Class has a cabin to catch both your eyes.
We’re guessing that if you’re in the market for either of these vehicles, then you’re not paying for them yourself. Either car costs roughly the same over three years for a company car driver. The BMW costs a touch more to lease, and indeed to fill up with fuel.
The 5 Series would be the more expensive over three years, taking everything into account, although whether roughly £2700 over three years is a deal breaker is debatable.
Both cars come with reasonable levels of kit, but do note that the extras do mount up quite quickly in either car.
Overall, we’d give the E-Class a lot of points and kudos. It’s a great car, but, despite our cautioning against a foregone conclusion, it certainly couldn’t take on the new 5 Series.
But perhaps BMW has given itself a problem here. Yes, it beat the established competition of the Mercedes E-Class. But the new 5 Series is so good that in many ways you could seriously see it as a smaller, sharper, better-value 7 Series. And where does that leave the 7 Series?