The new BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-class have been pitted together in an exclusive head-to-head test in this week's Autocar magazine.
For 23 years, every iteration of the 5-series that has gone up against the E-class has come out on top, but this time tester Andrew Frankel was confident the Five faced the hardest fight of its life.
The current E-class is at the top of the game, having pasted the outgoing 5-series in a previous test, and dusted the Jaguar XF.
The test pits the 3.0-litre diesel engined Merc - the best on offer, we think - against the 530d, historically the best of the bunch.
Exterior and interior styling
Both cars look disappointing, notes Frankel. The Mercedes is odd, the BMW just bland and unimaginative.
Inside the 530d BMW has made useful progress, and whether its cabin is preferable to its rival's depends on your priorities. Certainly it works much better: its switchgear is more lucidly arranged, its dials are clearer, the new iDrive controller clearly superior to Mercedes' rival Command system.
What the BMW interior lacks is a sense of occasion. Less coherent it may be, but the way the E-class deploys its wood and leather and subtle but extensive use of chrome has a class missing from the BMW.
The real news is how close the BMW now comes to offering E-class interior space; the E-class's advantage on leg room has been much reduced. The Five is fractionally smaller all round, but for the first time it can seat four large adults in comfort.