New Mercedes E300e vs BMW 530e: practicality

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

BMW 530e 2021 rear seats

Space and practicality

Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

The standard panoramic glass roof that we mentioned earlier is great for letting light into the E300e’s interior, but it also robs front seat occupants of head room. You’d need to be at least six feet tall before your hair met the headlining, though. With nothing but a metal roof overhead, there’s far more air between scalp and ceiling in the 530e.

It’s nip and tuck when it comes to front leg room and width, while both have broad armrests and a good spread of cubbies. That includes somewhere to stash your mobile phone and keys between the seats, two cupholders big enough for the largest of lattes and decent door pockets on both. And regardless of which car you choose, there’s another giant cubby beneath the wide centre armrest – just what you need for life on the road.

Mercedes E300e 2021 rear seats

Separating our two contenders is much easier when it comes to rear seat space; the 530e has more leg room, while the E300e’s panoramic roof once again cuts into head room. Space for feet beneath the E300e’s front seats is rather tight, too. Neither is great for three adults sitting side by side, with big central floor humps to straddle and raised middle seats that reduce head room.

Despite advances in battery technology, you’ll still find boot space is reduced compared with conventional versions of the 5 Series and E-Class. In the 530e, the boot floor is at least usefully flat, albeit a bit higher than in regular models. The E300e, on the other hand, has a large hump beneath the carpet towards the back; this makes for an uneven cargo bay that can be awkward to load.

Despite its impractical shape, the E300e can actually swallow one more carry-on suitcase than the 530e (six versus five), and you get handy 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats as standard. You have to pay an extra £395 for folding rear seats in the 530e; they, too, split in a 40/20/40 arrangement.


Boot space

BMW 5 Series

BMW 530e 2021 boot

Boot 410 litres Suitcases 5


Mercedes E-Class

Mercedes E300e 2021 boot

Boot 370 litres Suitcases 6