New Mercedes E300e vs BMW 530e: interiors

Serious opulence meets low running costs in this battle of the plug-in hybrid luxury saloons. But which is best?...

BMW 530e 2021 dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

You’ll find plenty of adjustment in both cars’ part-electric driver’s seats, including for lumbar support to stave off lower back pain, but the 530e’s steering wheel, seat and pedals line up more neatly for a superior driving position. You can add full electric seat adjustment in the 530e as part of a £1495 Comfort Pack, but you’ll have to jump up to the £2500 more expensive AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus to get it on the E300e.

Forward visibility can’t be faulted in either car, but seeing behind you isn’t as easy in the E300e, because its rear pillars are thicker. Both get front and rear parking sensors plus LED headlights as standard, with the 530e adding a rear-view camera. The E300e goes a couple of steps further with a 360deg camera and adaptive headlights that allow you to keep main beam on without dazzling other drivers.

Mercedes E300e 2021 dashboard

Both cars come with digital instrument panels, with the E300e’s being able to show a far greater array of information than the 530e’s. Both have sharp graphics that make them easy enough to read.

The E300e’s interior, with its conjoined 12.3in instrument and infotainment displays, fancy metal air vents and swooping wood-covered dashboard, holds more immediate showroom appeal than the comparatively sober and conventional 530e’s. However, while there are lots of squishy plastics, glitzy trims and a glossy black finish to the steering wheel spokes, the E300e just isn’t as well constructed. Its switches don’t work with the same precision and some of the trim panels tend to creak if you prod them.


Infotainment systems

BMW 5 Series

BMW 530e 2021 touchscreen

This, frankly, is the finest infotainment system available. The large, 12.3in screen is crisp and highly legible, while the menus are easy to wrap your head around. You can operate the system as a touchscreen – handy for punching in navigation instructions when you’re stationary – or you can twiddle a dial controller between the seats. That’s a much safer, easier and more precise method when you’re on the move. It’s packed full of features, too.


Mercedes E-Class

Mercedes E300e 2021 touchscreen

A 12.3in touchscreen is standard, and there are touchpads between the seats and on the steering wheel to provide an alternative means of control. They’re not as easy to use as the dial in the 530e, but if you can master the one on the wheel, you can operate the system while keeping both hands on the wheel. The system is as feature-packed as the 530e’s and the graphics are sharp, but the menus are slightly trickier to fathom.