Mercedes or BMW? This may sound like a straightforward question with a pretty clear answer. However, it’s not that simple, especially when comparing two carmakers from Germany. Of course, we’re talking about two of the most influential brands in automotive history here.
Indeed, Mercedes kickstarted a transportation revolution with Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler having practically invented the automobile. Meanwhile, BMW started by making airplane engines in Munich during WW1. Over the years, the two companies created their own definitions of the automobile with luxury and comfort on one side vs. driving dynamics and sophistication on the other. However, both share outstanding engineering; trust me, I was convinced after working on my W124 using a Mercedes-Benz repair manual — Merc’s engineers were super thorough when designing every single part in that car!
Still, to truly understand what each brand has to offer, we need to delve much deeper into their car models, design, performance, interior, and overall maintenance.
On that note, let’s dive right in!
Interestingly, you can easily decipher the audience each brand focuses on with just a quick glance at their motto.
For instance, Mercedes-Benz caters to a wide range of customers, producing hatchbacks, compact crossovers, SUVs, EVs, premium sedans, executive sedans, performance cars, luxury vehicles, and commercial trucks and vans. Its most important offerings include the A-Class, B-Class, C-Class, E-Class,G-Class, S-Class, EQ electric vehicles, and Maybach models.
The brand clearly emphasizes on delivering the best possible vehicle for the stylish executive, looking for a contemporary and timeless design philosophy. After all, the Stuttgart manufacturer strives to offer ‘The Best or Nothing.’
On the other hand, BMW also has plenty of vehicles on-hand with crossovers, performance vehicles, sedans, coupes, SUVs, hybrids, and luxury vehicles. Some of the essential models in its lineup include the 3-series, 4-series, 5-series, 6-series, 7-series, X-Series SUVs, and M Performance models.
The Munich-based automaker focuses on driving character, practicality, and ergonomics. Particular design characteristics include muscular body lines, lowered stance, twin-pod LED headlamps, and the (in)famous kidney grilles. It is the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ after all.
Put simply, the choice boils down to Elegance vs. Sportiness.
In terms of performance, both brands offer several speed-oriented vehicles configured by their respective tuning branches.
Mercedes-Benz houses a handful of sporty models under its AMG Performance wing, such as the A-Class (A45S), C-Class (C43, C63), E-Class (E63), G-Class (GLE, GLC, G63), etc. While these models all come with mechanical upgrades over their standard counterparts, they all retain the fancy equipment and conveniences of the base vehicles. If you fancy going all-out sport and track-focused, Mercedes even offers supercars such as the Neon Green AMG GTR, Black Series, and super exclusive AMG One.
Meanwhile, BMW offers specific M-performance models and M versions of its standard lineup. The M variants inject an extra dose of driving dynamics through tuned engines, stiffer suspension, tighter steering, and sharper brakes over its regular models, including the 1-series, 2-series, 3-series (Mi-320d), 4-series (M-440i), X-Series (X6M), just to name a few. M-Performance cars, such as the M2, M3, M4, M5 CSL, M6, and M8, are built for day-to-day use along with weekend runs and occasional track days (if you’re brave enough). Common traits include a responsive powertrain, a communicative chassis (steering, brakes, and body), and some aero enhancements.
While both brands offer a wide selection of performance vehicles, BMW is traditionally renowned for providing a superior driving package.
Both German powerhouses offer a sophisticated interior loaded to the brim with the latest tech and safety features.
Mercedes tends more towards the executive audience, offering the best-in-segment materials and features. Cabins are usually draped with a single- or two-tone leather, as well as suede on the seats, dashboard, and door trims.
Furthermore, most new models feature the hi-tech MBUX touchscreen connectivity suite with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support and proprietary Merc amenities. The software is quite advanced, but can also be confusing to use at times. Fortunately, you won’t be needing a Mercedes-Benz repair book for software updates — everything is handled over-the-air in the brand’s latest vehicles.
Safety-wise, Merc vehicles are generally 5-star rated and come standard with the latest safety tech such as ABS, traction control, airbags, seatbelt pre-tensioners, Isofix child seat mounts, and Driver Assistance tech.
BMW cabins are generally more driver-oriented with ergonomic buttons and controls, for a streamlined operation without fiddling with excessive touch controls. The design, too, is rather contemporary and utilitarian, with a decent presence of premium materials. BMW’s iDrive system is not as flashy as the Merc’s but is easier to use on the go, thanks to the rotary controller.
Moreover, it offers a standard connectivity suite, navigation, entertainment, and Beamer-spec toggles. Still, like its counterpart, BMW also fitted its lineup with the standard safety tech and 5-star build.
One of the most important, yet often overlooked aspects of buying a car, involves ownership expenses, including insurance, maintenance, spare part replacements, and other miscellaneous factors that arise while the vehicle is running.
German cars carry a brand value since they are generally thought to be more robust and reliable. However, while this sentiment was true to some extent until the early 1990s and 2000s, other manufacturers have since caught on, and the same can’t be said today.
Moreover, BMW and Mercedes charge a premium compared to their rivals, with every model starting from $40k and going well above the $120k mark for some top-tier models. Unfortunately, service and replacement parts are also more expensive than other players, with Merc being the more expensive to maintain, courtesy of several electronics-related issues in mid-range and flagship models.
No need to mention that, with so much complexity involved in making modern-day vehicles, it is vital to get hold of an up-to-date Mercedes repair guide to diagnose many such issues and keep ownership costs on the lower side. Not so sure where to start? Take a look at eManualOnline — they’ve got repair manuals for any Mercs or Beamer out there.
To sum it all up, you can’t really go wrong with either Mercedes-Benz or BMW. When it comes to these mighty Germans, you’ve just entered the club of automotive excellence.
With Mercedes, you can expect a vast range of vehicles built with great attention to detail and equipped with a bunch of luxury features. Moreover, each model is packed with technology and a style statement in itself.
With BMW, you can expect a car lineup that will certainly put a smile on your face. Ergonomic design, sporty driving dynamics, and versatility are just some facets of owning one.
However, while any BMW or Mercedes-Benz model will certainly bring a smile to your face, it can also be hard on your budget. I am solving that issue (mostly) by using a Mercedes auto repair manual and doing some of the repairs myself. That might not work for you, though, especially if you don’t have the experience. Still, if you are looking to drive one of the best cars out there, learning some of the basics could be very well worth the time
My last piece of advice — choose a car that fits your needs and desires, not a logo.