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Mercedes versus BMW: comparison of future models

Christian Schulte
Mercedes versus BMW
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S in motorsport, Mercedes’s winning streak can almost scare you do. Regardless of whether it is Formula 1, DTM, ADAC GT Masters, Formula 3 European Championship or FIA GT World Cup - the star was number one everywhere in 2015. Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche surfs the wave of success in other ways too. Customers snatch the new SUV GLC out of his hands, and the S-Class was not only able to hold its own against the new BMW 7 Series in the first test, but even left it behind. The best or nothing, they say with a proud swollen chest in Stuttgart.

But doesn't pride come before the fall? In any case, at BMW in Munich, they clench their fists in their pockets. Motto: Just bring your new E-Class, we'll pay you home with the 5 Series. Time to take a look at the technical refinements with which the two newcomers in the upper middle class are entering the race in 2016.

Let's start with the E-Class, the new edition of which celebrated its premiere at the Detroit Auto Show. It grows by around five centimeters in length and has a 6.5 centimeter longer wheelbase. The width remains unchanged. The growth will primarily benefit the rear passengers, but the load volume of the trunk has also increased - to more than 500 liters in the T-model.

At the market launch in spring, there will initially be five engines to choose from: two diesels, the new four-cylinder OM 654 and a three-liter V6. There are also the well-known petrol engines, the E 200 with 184 hp and the E 400 as well as a three-liter V6 with 333 hp. The range is rounded off by the plug-in hybrid 350 e taken from the C-Class with a system output of 279 hp. More engines will follow in the course of the year. The E 63 AMG will start in autumn and the new in-line six-cylinder generation will finally start in 2017.

Top comfort and new ones Technology

Mercedes wants to score points against the competition with various new technologies. On the one hand, there is the new air suspension with two chambers at the front and three at the rear, which is supposed to provide even better suspension comfort.

The E-Class can not only offer comfort, but also sport. The spread of the individual modes that can be selected via the driving dynamics switch is significantly greater.The regular steel spring chassis is fitted with adaptive dampers as standard, but the driver cannot change their settings.

While driving comfort has always been a Mercedes domain, the new cockpit is intended to break through BMW's leading role in connectivity and operation. In return, Mercedes has given the E-Class a huge display that merges the instrument cluster and the radio /navigation unit. It can be configured individually and should also be intuitive to use thanks to the conveniently placed touchpads on the steering wheel. The surcharge should be about as high as it is today for the large Comand system (currently 3,487 euros).

BMW relies on gesture control

And what does BMW do? The new 5 Series, which will be presented at the end of 2016, will have a cockpit derived from the 7 Series, but designed to be much more driver-oriented, as well as the next generation of the tried and tested i-Drive. When it comes to the display, things aren't quite as big as Mercedes, but there are plenty of real-time services and gesture control in addition to an improved menu structure. It will be difficult for Mercedes, where gesture control is still not used, to catch up with the Munich team straight away.

On the engine side, there are practically no changes to the engine with the model change in the BMW, although the units will of course be revised. The modular principle remains, according to which four- and six-cylinder engines - whether diesel or gasoline - will have a single displacement of around 500 cubic centimeters. All engines have twin-power turbo technology with double variable camshaft control. The M5 could even be a six-cylinder with triturbo. We're talking about 600 hp.

The gears of the engines are still sorted by the proven eight-speed automatic converter from ZF, while Mercedes is replacing its in-house, seven-speed transmission with the nine-speed one. However, one can argue about the added value of further stages in converter machines. After the 7 Series in the 5 Series, BMW is introducing the plug-in hybrid.

Both will lose weight by around 100 kg, with both BMW and Mercedes achieving this with conventional means. In other words: Carbon as in the 7 Series is not used.

Both brands are making great strides in automated driving. In the future, both the 5-series and the E-Class should be able to independently follow the car driving ahead on the autobahn at speeds of up to 210 km /h. Mercedes goes a little further than BMW and enables automatic overtaking up to 130 km /h. In contrast to BMW, Daimler already uses navigation map data in addition to stereo cameras, radar and sensors to specify automated driving.

No design revolutions

Both BMW and Mercedes are currently showing a clear line in the design of their cars. The new 5 Series is clearly an evolution and looks a bit like a small one7 series. The same applies to the E-Class, which is similar to its big brother, the S-Class. With the facelift of the Mercedes flagship in 2017, a clearer distinction between the model series can be seen through the light graphics of the headlights. The E-Class will have one more LED daytime running light strip than the smaller C-Class, and the S-Class will have three more strips.

But the battle is not only fought in the upper middle class, but above all in SUV and in the increasingly varied compact class. BMW is taking action with the new edition of the Mini Countryman , which increases by 20 centimeters and with a trunk volume of 460 liters will in future offer more storage space than the successful Mercedes GLA. It will be available at the end of 2016 with three- and four-cylinder engines based on the new front-wheel and all-wheel drive architecture from BMW, on which the 2 Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer are also based. New in the range: The Mini will also be available as a plug-in hybrid in the future. The purely electric range should be 34 kilometers.

This architecture also serves as the basis for the new 2 Series Gran Coupé, although it will initially only come with all-wheel drive. Background: The design is cheaper than the rear-wheel and all-wheel drive architecture of the 3 and 5 Series. Like the CLA at Mercedes, the car is to be positioned slightly below the middle class. The coupé-like four-door Mercedes is also cheaper than a C-Class, and the second edition will not be available with rear-wheel drive, but only with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. But the wheelbase is growing significantly, which gives the car noticeably better proportions.

The first Mercedes model on the new front-wheel drive platform will be the next B-Class. The advantage of the architecture: It is significantly lighter and allows differences in wheelbases of up to 20 centimeters.

SUV in all classes

Probably the largest model based on this will be the new Mercedes GLB , an SUV with front-wheel and all-wheel drive and a length of around 4.60 meters, which is expected to fill the gap between the GLA (4.42 meters) and GLC (4.66 meters) from 2018. With its angular shape reminiscent of the G-model, the GLB should be an alternative, especially for young families. Like the C-Class from the CLA, the GLC will also clearly differ from the GLB in terms of a higher quality interior, more driving comfort and better noise insulation. With the decision in favor of the GLB, the plans for an extended B-Class have also come to an end. The affordable space saver from Mercedes will be an SUV - unlike BMW, where the Gran Tourer is a van.

However, BMW is working on a city SUV with the working title Urban Cross, its first design -Draft according to information from auto motor und sport was not approved by the board. The Urban Cross,actually an answer to the Audi Q2 , which will celebrate its premiere in 2016, should therefore be a little longer in coming. For this, the X2 , the coupé-like offshoot of the X1, into the breach.

Luxury SUVs and sports cars

A lot is happening with the large SUVs too. BMW attacks the GLS and brings with the status-oriented X7 an opponent that is primarily intended to win over customers in the US market. If you want, you can even order the ship, which is over five meters long, with a twelve-cylinder engine.

BMW continues to refuse a genuine super sports car, but they want to further expand the range of M and M Performance models from 2016. According to rumors, there is even an M-Performance version of a 7 Series with a twelve-cylinder engine. So not only will the brand duel continue to occupy us, but also that of the sports forges Mercedes-AMG and BMW M.

BMW bolder than Mercedes

Jens Katemann on the e-car strategy of Brands, one comment.

While Mercedes has been cooking on the back burner with electric cars so far, BMW has gone to the full with the i-offensive. But what happens next? BMW will upgrade the technology of the i8 and bring an open version. The i3 will get a new, more powerful battery for the 2017 facelift. For the old batteries, the Munich-based company has considered a second life as stationary storage, in which the intelligence for optimal cooperation between storage, electric car, house network, public electricity network and solar cells is already integrated on the roof. In addition, BMW is working on the i6, a more spacious i variant in the look of the i8, which should create a purely electric range of up to 500 km. Internally, however, it is said that there is still a need for discussion regarding the technical concept, so that a market launch before 2020 is not to be expected.

And what does Mercedes do? The next electric B-Class is to be built without Tesla help, and the new E-Smart will finally arrive in autumn 2016. Recently, an E version based on the GLC has also been on the engineers' to-do list - possibly with a stronger visual differentiation from the model with a combustion engine. BMW has a correct electric strategy, Mercedes on the other hand only lighthouse projects.


Mercedes can also expand thanks to a broad Selling model range (in future up to the pickup) in the sales figures of BMW. According to market observers from IHS Automotive, however, it is above all the new SUVs that will give Mercedes this plus. IHS assumes that Mercedes will sell more SUVs than BMW for the first time in 2016. InThe brands are differently successful in important world markets. Mercedes is stronger in Europe, Japan and America, while BMW is ahead in China. Despite all the rivalry: Great growth potential.

The empire strikes back

The star shines brighter than ever. Mercedes design chief Gorden Wagener has created an independent, very successful design language. The whole thing is paired with a multitude of correct strategic product decisions. The only small flop: the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake, which will no longer be available in the next generation.

Daimler is also catching up in terms of technology: operation and connectivity in the cars have long been considered the major weaknesses. Accordingly, we are eagerly awaiting what the Mercedes drivers can do with the huge new display.

Is that enough to drive BMW away? In some areas, such as design, there is currently a tendency at company headquarters, the legendary four-cylinder, to play it safe. In terms of technology, however, nobody can fool BMW so quickly. The brand is at least on par with the competition in all important issues and even goes further in some areas, such as gesture control. BMW is definitely more courageous than Mercedes when it comes to electric vehicles.

Nevertheless, Mercedes is a much tougher opponent than it was two to three years ago. Can the E-Class beat the 5 Series? The chances are not bad. Beyond 2016, at BMW, in my opinion, a lot will depend on the design language with which customers will be delighted in the future. It should start with the next 3-generation 2018 .


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