Mercedes E300 Hybrid vs BMW 520d ED

14 Jan, 2013 10:30am

Has Mercedes made the first fully convincing diesel hybrid with the E-Class? We test it against the BMW 5 Series to find out

Diesel hybrids are still in their infancy, and the previous two we tried failed to deliver on their promise of stunning fuel efficiency and strong performance. Both were from Peugeot, and both were let down by jerky automatic gearboxes, a poor ride and disappointing economy. But surely a company with the engineering might of Mercedes can finally make this combination of powerful diesel and small battery work?

The new E300 Hybrid is aimed squarely at company buyers, and the addition of a lithium-ion battery and electric motor to the drivetrain has turned the E-Class into the cleanest big executive saloon on the market. The boot and spacious interior are both unaffected because the battery is stored beneath the rear seats, and it comes generously equipped to help compensate for a price tag that runs dangerously close to £40,000.

Standing in its way is our current class champ: the BMW 520d EfficientDynamics. The 5 Series is less efficient than the E300 on paper, but it’s cheaper so still competitive in terms of efficiency and, crucially, company car tax bills. After crunching the numbers and racking up the miles, which eco-friendly exec will secure the win?


Mercedes has succeeded where others have failed by producing a hybrid model that is not only relevant to the UK market, but also works effectively.

Previous petrol hybrids from BMW and Audi have delivered high performance, but poor fuel returns. Yet the E300 easily outmuscled its conventional rival at the track and was also far more efficient at the pumps. However, while the drivetrain is an impressive feat of engineering, the rest of the E-Class is showing its age – and the drab interior and anonymous design mean the revised model can’t arrive soon enough. If these were our only gripes the E300 would be in with a shout in this encounter, but two main flaws prevent it from securing first place.

Lowering the suspension for better aerodynamics has spoiled the ride comfort – not an acceptable compromise for any big exec. The other problem is cost. While the Merc is cheaper to run as a company or private car, the gap isn’t big enough to offset its higher price and steeper depreciation. The BMW is sharper to drive and will offer better value for most buyers, so it remains our efficiency champ by a narrow margin. The classy and spacious interior and bigger boot help it seal victory despite its lack of pace at the track. However, BMW should keep looking over its shoulder, because hybrids are improving all the time.

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If your going to award a car a victory, at least test it!!

That bmw in the picture is clearly a 520d M Sport... not a 520d ED.

Mercedes has succeeded where others have failed by producing a hybrid model that is not only relevant to the UK market, but also works effectively.

Obviously not heard of the Volvo V60 D5 plug in Hybrid, even more relevant especially as it has the ability to be FWD, RWD or AWD if required.

You boys (AE) really need to catch up on a little homework! The ONLY things that matter [financially], are LEASE/CONTRACT HIRE costs, running costs and P11D values.
Residual values?? Who are you trying to kid? They are of NO concern to a company. Company car drivers are given a budget (or, in some cases, a car list) with which they like to spend as close, as is humanly possible, to within the figures given. The Merc has cheaper running costs, less CO2's and less company car tax and you say it loses!

NO Manager/Director would consider these two cars together. If a potential E300 driver chose the 520ED
it would be seen as a 'Step Down' and he would be percieved to be, justifiably, personally de-valued. An E300 buyer would look at the best 5-series he could get for the same [lease] money. That would be something in the region of a 525D SE at £36,945 (plus a few of options). However, if what you say is true about the BMW's better residuals, then he could afford something a lot better - 530d M-Sport Auto at £44,010 perhaps?

Lets compare facts on these two cars instead.

For the record, I suspect that a 520ED would compete much more closely with an E220CDi Auto.
The boys at Bracknell must throw a helluva Christmas party!!!

I read the article. I don't think it was appropriate for Auto Express to compare these two cars. The Merc easily beats this Beemer in every area including price.
The Merc is 10g cleaner despite its auto box. Its way more powerful and faster in all gears. It returns 7mpg better than the Beemer in Auto Express tests.
Auto Express should have compared this Merc with similarly priced 525d M Sport. The only criteria for choosing these two cars seems to have been emissions.

As a company car the E300 is a no brainier in terms of company tax. However if you need to tow any sort of trailer it is not capable of it as has zero towing ability. Shame would have bought one.