BMW 5 Series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class – It’s a question that’s been regularly coming my way and I’m sure the barrage will only increase because this is a really, really difficult question. Fact: both these cars have dramatically moved the game on from their predecessors. The E, for instance, not only looks like a baby S-Class but feels like one and has made a huge step-up in terms of driver involvement even though India only gets the long wheelbase version. As for the 5, it has now made a dramatic leap towards ride comfort but not at the expense of trademark driver involvement. The old E would not stand a chance against the new 5 on any parameter, but the new one?
Trying to make sense of the conundrum, I spent the last week with the new 530d in the MSport trim, drawing massive crowds every time I remotely backed it up into tight spots using the key. Sure most owners will have drivers to manage parking chores but I can’t begin to tell you what a cool feature it is, as is gesture control to adjust audio volume and answer calls. As a tech-fest the 5 is the shizz. And it still is an absolute blast to bomb round your favourite set of twisties, now with the added benefit of near-E-Class levels of ride comfort. I even squinted at the tyres to check if run flats have been banished from the repository (they haven’t).
In a day I was sold on the 5 and so to keep things in perspective I asked for a new E-Class to refresh memories. And, you know what, the E steamrolls the 5 on luxury; the cabin space is just ridiculous!
Our comparison tests have always had winners but, at the expense of killing all suspense (and, worse, being labelled a sell-out), our 5 v E story doesn’t have a winner. These two cars have veered so far off on their own unique paths you cannot compare them. With the E, Mercedes have doubled down on luxury, pampering occupants – and even the driver! – to the extent that you wonder if the S-Class is in danger of being cannibalised. And the 5 continues to be the default choice for the enthusiast, the keen driver, the young at heart.
Actually E v 5 has become an easy question to answer. E for space, 5 for pace. You can’t go wrong with either.