BMW 535i and Mercedes E350 CGI in the test

Hans-Dieter Seufert
BMW 535i and Mercedes E350 CGI in the test
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W o they are, is above. Of course, the board of directors and the supervisory board also reside in seventh heaven or the Mercedes S-class, but the real makers drive the BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-class. Especially with the most powerful six-cylinder petrol engines, they are the classics of upper management, the calling cards for seriousness, willingness to perform and success even in the private sphere. A stylish and tasteful decision, although there are definitely attractive alternatives: Around 50 years of experience in this demanding segment cannot easily be trumped.

In the test, it is noticeable: the 5 Series closes the space on the E-Class on

And certainly not overlooked. After years of controversially discussed design language, BMW has returned to a clearer line. The BMW 5 Series immediately looks dynamic and typical of the brand, catching up with the BMW 7 Series in both style and dimensions. In terms of length (plus six centimeters) and wheelbase (plus eight), it has even increased significantly more than the Mercedes E-Class during the model change and thus eliminated a previous disadvantage - the limited space available.

Purely externally the Mercedes shows more applied design gags like the rear fenders, which play with the proud company history. The interior also looks as down-to-earth and solid as an oak desk, and the automatic selector lever sits on the steering column as it was in the 1950s. When brown shades mix in, as with the test car, it becomes abundantly clear: This is not a car for the young at heart. They feel more comfortable in the modern, cooler designed BMW cockpit.

The Mercedes E350 has the larger trunk and offers more payload

It has nothing to do with functionality. The operating ergonomics, once a classic Mercedes stronghold, has reached a similarly high level in the latest i-Drive generation from BMW. There is ample space in both of them, and not least the quality of the materials and workmanship clearly shows the owner where all the money is. The BMW 5 Series scores with somewhat more generous interior dimensions and a more comfortable rear seat bench, the Mercedes with the larger trunk and more payload. In the end, the body details are almost identical. This field is not where one premium competitor can beat the other.

The BMW 5 Series feels like it is in the testand Mercedes E-Class look different

But maybe the driving characteristics? The BMW enters the test with numerous expensive technical extras: adaptive chassis with shock absorber control, speed-dependent active steering, steering rear axle. The Mercedes believes it can compare with the standard chassis. Anyone who looks at the measured values ​​of the vehicle dynamics tests will say: It is. But although the differences are marginal, the two feel very different.

The BMW 5 Series is sportier in the test than the Mercedes E-Class

The BMW proves this for a car Size and weight a surprisingly sporty and nimble handling. He likes curves and he doesn't just want to go around them, he wants to whiz through them. The BMW 5 Series is the right choice for active drivers who enjoy driving and who like to deal with their car. You will welcome the extremely spontaneous response of the steering, which appears a bit nervous when driving straight ahead, as part of the dynamics - as well as the options for individual tuning. Sport, normal or comfort are available. In sport mode, the engine's responsiveness is downright biting, and the eight-speed automatic shows with constant gear changes how many gear ratios are available. In normal or comfort, this calms down noticeably, although the comfort position does not make you happy all round.

BMW was able to almost close the comfort gap to Mercedes

This makes the BMW look clear on bad roads Undamped, there are swaying vertical movements that have little to do with comfort, but with protesting stomachs of the rear passengers. Overall, the normal position proves to be the best compromise with which the BMW 5 Series shows that it has succeeded in largely closing the comfort gap to the Mercedes in the latest generation.

The Mercedes E-Class shines in the test with high driving comfort

With this, the driver has to trust what the manufacturer has found to be the best possible set-up. And that's good. The Mercedes E-Class is nowhere near as sporty and dynamic as the BMW 5 Series. Your steering, which is significantly more indirect, reacts precisely, but comparatively slowly. Anyone who can live with it is compensated with a highly balanced suspension comfort.

And because it all works without having to set the program of your choice, it becomes clear: The Mercedes is a car that leaves its driver alone in the best sense of the word . This also applies to the drive. In conjunction with the standard seven-speed automatic transmission, the 3.5-liter V6 ensures good performance, is cultivated and consumes reasonably little gasoline. End of the announcement. In comparison to this technically unexciting V6, Bayerische Motoren Werke pulls out all the stops. The row construction is a specialty. Then there are the throttle-free Valvetronic andTurbocharging. No longer with two turbos as in the past, but now with only one, which has two channels on the exhaust side (twin scroll).

The BMW six-cylinder offers much more torque than the Mercedes V6

The new turbocharger aims less at the highest possible performance - 306 hp are no sensation for a three-liter turbo - than at the best pulling power. The BMW 535i develops considerably more torque than the Mercedes E 350 CGI, and it does so even at a lower speed. An engine, as it should be for a BMW, with passion, a treat for technology freaks. The response is so good that you don't even want to believe the turbo at first. It revs up in a flash, vibration-free and with that specific BMW sound that only completely hypothermic people would describe as noise.

In the test, the BMW 5 Series scores with engine pleasure

Real engine pleasure, underlined by the extremely gently and quickly reacting eight-speed automatic. The fact that the BMW 535i also consumed 0.3 liters /100 km less in the test only underlines its superiority in this discipline. Ultimately, it is this drive and the driving dynamics that give the BMW its point lead. That doesn't have to bother the Mercedes driver. Because the following applies to both competitors: They embody the classic virtues of both brands in almost perfect form.

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