BMW and Mercedes-Benz are two of the most popular luxury car brands on the market and each offers its own impressive lineup of vehicles.
They’ve both got a long history behind them and a reputation for producing high-quality cars – but which one is right for you?
Mercedes has its roots back in 1886 with the invention of the internal combustion engine. After being one of the first to produce a petrol-powered vehicle, Karl Benz went on to produce the first four-wheel petrol car in 1891.
Benz then started ‘Benz & Cie’ in 1900 and became the largest automaker in the world.
A merger that took place following the First World War would see the manufacturer become ‘Mercedes-Benz’ – the brand we know today.
BMW came around a little later, launching in 1916 as a manufacturer of aircraft engines. It wasn’t until 1928 that the brand become an automobile manufacturer.
The first vehicles that BMW manufactured were a product of its purchase of Fahrzeugfabrik Eisnach, rebadging its Dixi cars as BMWs before expanding further into sports and luxury vehicles throughout the 1930s.
Today, both BMW and Mercedes make much more advanced cars than they were building back at their beginnings. You can now choose from a range of premium cars in trims that upgrade the features for each model.
The entry-level trim in most BMW models is the SE. With features like a 6.5-inch colour infotainment display, rear parking sensors and cruise control, depending on the model you choose, these definitely won’t feel like basic models.
The Sport trim is a level up from the SE and will usually mean extra sporty styling for your car. It can also include larger alloys with upgraded styling and an upgraded suspension.
Depending on the car, you can upgrade to the xLine trim for features like digital driver display, adaptive suspension and all-around parking sensors. This can also include larger alloys, metal-effect body trims and a larger fuel tank.
Often the favourite in the lineup, the BMW M Sport trims get all the bells and whistles. Added features include ‘M’ branding around the car, a more intricate front grille, M Sport tyres and wheels, and full leather sports seats.
The exact features that come with each BMW trim will depend on the model.
You can see which features are included with our used models by taking a look at the vehicle description.
Most models in the Mercedes-Benz lineup start at the entry-level SE trim. Standard equipment can include 16-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, heated front seats and keyless start.
The next one up in the range is usually the Sport model, with larger 17-inch alloy wheels, sportier styling and an upgraded steering wheel, with plenty of chrome touches throughout the car.
The Sport Executive Edition uses the Sport base and further upgrades it. Depending on the model, this can include a larger MBUX touchscreen set-up that’s just over 10 inches and includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. You can get even larger 18-inch alloys too, along with privacy glass and extra parking aids.
We then move on to the AMG range, starting with the AMG Line Executive Edition. This gets you that eye-catching AMG styling and larger alloys, plus a 64-colour ambient lighting package and a sport steering wheel.
After that, the AMG Line Premium Edition offers a 10.25-inch digital driver display and keyless go, making it a great choice for tech-lovers.
The top-range model is usually the AMG Line Premium Plus Edition. This offers a panoramic glass sunroof, Multibeam LED headlight technology and upgraded safety features.
The exact features you get will depend on the model you choose, but you can see the specs of our used vehicles by taking a look at the model descriptions.
When it comes to comparing BMW and Mercedes cars for reliability, it’s a pretty close call.
On the safety front, both manufacturers offer a great range of safety tech as standard and opportunities to upgrade this.
Euro NCAP has awarded many a five-star rating to BMW and Merc models, so you know you’ll be as safe as possible.
If you take a look at the reviews and consumer reliability surveys, it seems that BMW might just be inching ahead.
Even though both brands score well, BMW does get higher ratings across the board and has a reputation for a fewer number of faults.
When it comes to reliability, with either of these manufacturers you know you’ll have a dependable car with whichever you choose.
It’s also worth noting that the upkeep for premium brands can be more expensive as the parts will likely be priced higher and you may want to take your car to a specialist. It’s a good idea to factor this into your running costs.
Verdict: BMW vs. Mercedes: which should you buy?
It’s pretty hard to choose between BMW and Mercedes, as both have some seriously impressive models that will cater to many different tastes.
The Mercedes lineup is a flashy one, full of slick vehicles that offer impressive engines. The interiors are comfortable and sophisticated, and they score well for safety and reliability too.
BMW models also do well, but they do score higher for reliability in most reviews and surveys. They also offer a menacing look that many motorists are a fan of, but that will differ based on personal taste.
You might opt for a BMW just for that slight increase in reliability and the performance-focused engines.