Whether you’re buying or leasing a car, people’s priorities or criteria when looking for the ideal car vary from person to person: some motorists need the latest tech or Apple CarPlay as the bare minimum, whereas others still want the best performance and a rapid 0-60 time.
On top of that, a lot of thought goes into which make and model is right for you, and few badges have the kudos of BMW or Mercedes. But which is better? We’ll look at common car buying criteria and pit the two German heavyweights head-to-head to see if we can finally answer the question: BMW vs Mercedes: Which brand is better?
BMW or Mercedes: Model variety
Mercedes-Benz and BMW’s vast line-up offers something for everyone. On top of that, both manufacturers have started to push forward on their all-electric offering, with BMW’s i range and Mercedes EQ range offering a level of luxury performance that has only been hinted at in the EV market.
While these models certainly have an eye on future market share, that’s not to say that their more traditional range of vehicles have fallen by the wayside. Mercedes A-Class and BMW 1 Series remain two of the finest hatchbacks on the market, and further up the range the 5 Series and E-Class remain the pinnacle of the hatchback offering.
Where BMW certainly differentiates itself is through its extensive SUV offering. Designated under the X naming system, the X1 to X7 offer a variety of crossover, SUV and coupe-styled SUV’s to the market. Comparatively, Mercedes- SUV offering is under the G designation starting with the GLA crossover up to the colossal G-Class which can claim to be the most luxurious off-roader on the market.
Both models offer a curated choice in the performance market, with Mercedes AMG range offering the type of driving performance sports car enthusiasts desire while BMWs M models are certainly the more noticeable thanks in part to the distinctive logo.
BMW or Mercedes: Performance
As standard, both BMW and Mercedes offer exceptional performance across their entire range, with both manufacturers’ cars famous for offering a smooth drive, refinement and excellent fuel efficiency.
Engines start with the 1.5-litre petrol engine found in the 1 Series up to the V8 petrol offering 530hp found in the upcoming BMW X7. There are also the all-electric battery powered engines found in the i range which offer a variety of performance, range and charging times.
Similarly, the Mercedes engine range starts with the A180, a 1.3-litre petrol found in the A-Class all the way up to the 585hp G63 engine found in the G-Class.
BMW or Mercedes: Safety
BMW comes with plenty of safety kit as standard, including must haves such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning as well as speed limit assist and cruise control. Optional safety and assistance packs like Driving Assistant are charged extra. These often include features such as adaptive cruise control with stop/go functionality and rear-cross traffic warning but this varies from model to model.
As you would expect, Mercedes-Benz has a similar offering across its range. The GLB for example comes with multiple airbags, active lane-keeping assist, active brake assist, fatigue monitor, cruise control and more. The Driving Assistance package bolsters this with Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Braking Assist, Active Distance Assist, exit warning function and more.
Needless to say, both of the marquee German manufacturers regularly score highly when it comes to Euro NCAP safety tests.
BMW or Mercedes: Comfort and convenience
When it comes to interior layout, comfort, and convenience features, both BMW and Mercedes sit at the top. Looking at some of the newest models from the manufacturers, the BMW i7 is a lavish affair with comfort seats offering a wider surface than previous models as well as extensive electric adjustment, seat heating and lumbar support. The rear passenger compartment is particularly impressive, with a significantly improved reclining position offered and gap-free leg rest.
Looking at the Mercedes-Benz all-electric EQS, it aims offer a new dimension in aesthetics and luxury. This includes ambient lighting throughout the interior, high quality materials and decorative elements, and outstanding spaciousness for front and rear seat passengers. As an all-electric vehicle, extra emphasis is put on how quiet and comfortable it is.
BMW or Mercedes: Technology
With technology and driver-convenience features playing more and more importance when it comes to car buying criteria, if we look at BMW’s recent refresh of the 1 Series again tech takes pride of place throughout.
Characterised by BMW’s Live Cockpit Plus, this 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system offers built-in sat-nav and can be used via touchscreen or rotary dial on the centre console. BMW also offer two Tech Packs across the range: the first Tech Pack includes wireless charging and heads-up display while Tech Pack 2 replaces the regular infotainment screen with a 10.25-inch unit as well as gesture control and Harman Kardon stereo.
Mercedes-Benz on the other hand introduced their latest infotainment with the fourth-generation A-Class in 2018. The Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system has since been rolled out across the range and can be controlled via voice and touch input on the screen, touchpad in the centre console or control buttons on the steering wheel.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, MBUX is able to learn and adapt over time: this includes things like indirect commands such as ‘I feel cold’ to turn the heating on, predicting when you might like to navigate specific routes such as on the drive home from work, or even what radio station you’re likely to listen to in the morning.
BMW or Mercedes: Driving Experience
What a driver wants from their car obviously varies from person to person, but broad strokes BMW offers effortless drivability and performance across their entire range whereas Mercedes-Benz highest performing models tend to be consigned to their range of saloons and coupes.
While both models offer a fairly extensive range of sport models which emphasise performance, BMW’s M models are much more comprehensive than Mercedes AMG range and has become one of the most recognisable on the market.
BMW or Mercedes: New and used cars availability
While both BMW and Mercedes haven’t escaped unscathed from the semi-conductor chip shortage, availability of new models is pretty consistent with wait times currently around 20-24 weeks (including transit time) if ordering direct from the manufacturer.
BMW or Mercedes: Which is better?
If you are looking for attainable luxury, few cars can compete with BMW or Mercedes and both manufacturers are pretty neck and neck in comparison.
While we have given BMW the slight edge in this guide, ultimately the choice is yours: we think BMW offers a better driving experience and range of models to suit all tastes but at the same time Mercedes offers better driver comfort and technology. As such, it entirely depends on what you prioritise from your car as to which is better.