Category Archives: Mercedes-Benz

2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Coupe (874)

Overview: 

This week we’re looking at the 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Coupe. Beautiful only begins to express my feeling about this car. This one is easy to fall in love with. I’ve owned a couple of top of the line Mercedes cars over the years and so when I drove this E550-C it brought back fond memories. They are truly special automobiles. I tested an E320 Wagon throughout Germany and northern Italy, Austria and Switzerland. They are always a joy to drive.

This very sporty 2 plus two smaller folks in the back coupe is to me perfect for a young exec on the prowl. It is very exciting and faster than snot on a hot day. And yes the test car was red. Beautiful and a target for added taxes on the rich.

E Class originated from Einspritzmotor or fuel injected engine, if you’re interested.

General Info: 

Parts are from Germany and it is assembled in Germany. Class is Sub Compact. Cars from Mercedes – C-Class, CL, CLS, E-Class, E-Wagon, G-Class, GL, GLK, M-Class, M-Hybrid, R-Class, S-Class, S-Hybrid, SL-Class, SLK, SLS & Sprinter.

Opinion:

This is a follow up to the State’s rebuttal of my comments about Government addiction to oil.

I am amazed at how out of touch they are with the general public. They are off in their own little world of ‘make believe’. Make believe everything is ok and make believe they are needed. Clearly they are not. The song “I get along without you very well” pops into my mind and I think of simpler days when people made things happen and the Government pretty much stayed the hell out of the way. The pioneer spirit was alive and well before the Nanny State morphed into this monster of stupid government bureaucrats who think they really matter. They do however, in that they contribute nothing and the MATTERS. It matters to our society because government is a huge burden we can ill afford. It’s a social machine gone amuck.

So to Ms. Kathleen M’s query that if $.07 per gallon goes to oil company profit and $.55 goes to Government taxes then where does the rest of the price of a gallon of gas go?

Well, to begin with I think the profit is approximately 7% to the Oil Companies, and the tax in California is $.66 / gallon not $.55. Be that as it may Ms. M., the difference is called “Cost of Sales”. The price of a barrel of oil, refinery costs, advertising, rent, and most importantly Salaries and Wages among other expenses like ‘taxes! All of that cost is what fuels our economy, and by the way, the taxes, included in those expenses, is what makes government jobs possible to begin with.

Recommended reading: 

Michelle Malkin’s “Culture of Corruption”, and another book I found illuminating is Catherine Drinker Bowen’s “Miracle at Philadelphia”, the story of the Constitutional Convention, May to September 1787. Wouldn’t it be great if our schools would resume teaching Economics in school, and while they’re at it how about Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.

Handling & Performance:

This E550 will get your heart pumping. 0-60 mph in a heart trobbing 5.0 seconds – Wow! Top speed 130 mph (Electronically limited). I wonder if that is the case on the Autobahn’s of Germany. I understand the speed laws are changing there anyway, which is sad, because that was great fun to experience those speeds on a highway.

Styling:

Stunning.

Fit and Finish:

Impressive!

Cost:

$55K base and $65 with the premium package.

Conveniences and comfort:

Sumptuous.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you can afford the price of admission, this is an E-Ride.

Recognized Competition:

Mercedes-Benz E-Class $55,000, Acura RL $47,000, Audi A5 $36,000, Audi A6 $45,000, Audi S5 $54,000, Audi S6 $76,000, BMW 3 Series $35,000, BMW 5 Series $45,000, Cadillac DTS $47,000, Cadillac STS $47,000, Chrysler 300 $27,000, Huyndai Equus $58,000, Hyundai Genesis $34,000, Hyundai Genesis Coupe $22,000, Infiniti G Coupe $37,000, Infiniti M $48,000, Jaguar XF Series $53,000, Lexus GS $47,000, Lexus GS 450h $59,000, Saab 9-5 $39,000, Volvo S80 $37,000.

Good News:

Gorgeous, smooth, fun to drive, extreme comfort and security with great features standard.

Bad News:

Are you kidding me…

Standard Equipment:

5.5 liter 382 hp V8 engine, 7 speed auto transmission, power speed sensitive steering, dynamic handling suspension with CV damping system, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, 8-speaker sound system with in-dash 6-disc DVD/CD changer and memory slot, hands free Bluetooth interface, central controller with 7” display, power tilt-sliding sunroof, leather interior with wood dtim, multifunction leather steering wheel, 14-way power front seats, 4-way tilt & telescoping steering column, power mirrors, climate control, electronic cruise control, power windows, rain sensing intermittent wipers, split folding rear seats, interior ambient lighting, front and side airbags, front side curtain and pelvic and driver knee airbags, ISCFIX anchor a& tether system, electronic stability program, Pre-Safe protective system, attention assist driver drowsiness monitor, roll over sensor, anti-theft system with engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitor & remote keyless entry.

Gas Stats:

$3.69/ Gal avg. July 1, 2011

www.fueleconomy.gov

for more information.

15 City and 23 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $55,450.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com
Copyright © 2011 – An Automotive Love Affair

2005 Mercedes Benz C-320 Sedan (517)

Overview:

This week I tested the 2005 Mercedes Benz C-320 Sedan. There isn’t anything exactly like the Mercedes Benz. They just feel that “Certain Way” that gives you, well, “…that certainnnn smilllle”. Can’t you just hear the melody as Johnny Mathis sings the song?

Anyway, Mercedes has always been a step above the rest of the best. All Mercedes have that solid, well put together feel that is a trademark characteristic of the brand. Others that are “Smooth talkers” include Lexus and Infiniti. But the Japanese luxury cars have a different silky smooth feel. The Japanese luxury brands are more dainty – if you know what I mean? Mercedes and other German luxury cars like the Audi and BMW are more substantial or robust in feel and handling, and I guess they take on the character of the people of the country where they are built.

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – Germany

Class: – Compact

Cars: – C-Class, C-Class wagon, CLK, E-Class, E-Class wagon, G-Class, M-Class, S-Class, SL-            Class and SLK.

Handling & Performance:

The C-320 sedan is classed as a Compact, and as you’d expect it is easy to maneuver ant thus a great around town car. It is built low to the ground and hugs those corners so it is really fun to drive. And it is no slouch at 215 horsepower. It comes standard with a manual transmission and but I would prefer the automatic. On the road it is confident but for long trips I would opt for the S-Class.

Styling:

Uniquely Mercedes. Unmistakable.

Fit and Finish:

Certainly in the top 10% of all cars on the road.

Cost:

You can’t expect the car to be in the top 10% without corresponding pricing. Mercedes have never been classified as cheap or to some, even considered well priced. Fairly priced, yes, but not cheap. In fact, on this MSRP of $37,350, you will have to add $6,010 if you want Split fold down rear seat, Navigation system, 6-disc in dash CD player, and the sunroof package. I can live without any of the options.

Conveniences:

Actually this C-320 has an adequate compliment of standard equipment. I don’t consider the sunroof a needed option and the single disc CD player is ok by me. I think the rain sensor is neat but I can tell when it begins to rain – I have a keen sense of the obvious. Ok so I know it’s cool to have intermittent wipers with a mind of their own, but the way traffic is these days you need something to do while parked on the freeway. As to the navigation system, I’ve tested all of them from virtually every manufacturer and find them also unnecessary and expensive to boot. Yes, I know there are some who can benefit from the technology. They’re great in rental cars away from home and my daughter is in sales, on the road all day long visiting new potential customers. But even that will become unnecessary when she knows the territory. So you will have to consider whether the cost of about $2,200 is worth it.

Consumer Recommendation:

Look closely at the Volvo S60, which may well be the best competitor of the bunch below. Me, I love the Cadillac CTS. It just has a different kind of class and makes a different statement. Kind of like why I’ve owned several motorcycles, two of which were Harleys. Somehow the CTS revisits the Rebel in our souls.

The Competition:

Mercedes Benz C-Class $26-52,000, Cadillac CTS $32-49,000, Lexus ES 330 $32,000, Volvo S60 $27-37,000, (Following are 2004 priced models): BMW-Series $28-44,000, Lincoln LS $32-43,000, Audi A4 $26-44,000, Saab 9-3 $26-43,000, Infiniti G35 $28-33,000, Jaguar X-Type $29-34,000, Acura TL $33-35,000.

Good News:

Fast, fun, comfortable, smooth ride.

Bad News:

A little pricey for a compact, not as good on fuel economy as it could be.

Standard Equipment:

3.2 liter V6 215 hp engine, 6-speed manual trans, climate control, digital sound system with CD player, 10-way power front seats with 3 memory settings, power tilt and telescopic column, cruise control, power windows with express up and down, auto headlights, trip computer, dual front and side airbags, antitheft alarm with engine immobilizer, ESP – Electronic Stability Program and power assist 4-wheel ABS disc brakes.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 26 Highway MPG

Pricing:

MSRP $37,350.

2003 Mercedes Benz ML500 (453)

Overview:

This week I tested the 2003 Mercedes Benz ML500 Sport Utility. I didn’t have the occasion to play golf during the time I had the car, but I’ve got to tell you the snob appeal just went up a couple of points.

Now you can use the Mercedes Communications package (usually meant for emergencies), to make Tee Times on more than 300 golf courses through its Concierge Service. Well, excuuuuse meeeee. One-upsmanship, eh!

The M-Class Mercedes is available in the ML350, ML500 or the ML55 AMG trims. The modular engines are built entirely of aluminum, which seems to be a reemerging trend for many components using aluminum and other lightweight composites in the manufacture of many cars today.

The ride is stiff and much harder than I expected from a Mercedes. Naturally a softer ride is more comfortable but it also means that handling won’t be as good.

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – USA

Class: – Special Purpose / SUV

Cars: – C Class & Wagon, CL Class, CLK, E Class & Wagon, G Class, M, Class, S Class, SL                  Class & SLK.

Handling & Performance:

The all-wheel drive system is innovative in that it does not use locking differentials to maintain continuous traction. It uses the 4-ETS+ system already used in the make\’s other all-wheel drive vehicles: it includes an electronic system that uses the ABS sensors to control individual wheel rotation and that distributes power to the differential whose wheels have the most traction. For off-road driving, the ML is equipped with a dashboard button that activates a shorter axle ratio.

The height is almost 72 inches, as compared with 62 inches for the Audi, high and a wide 76 inches. Lexus chimes in at about 66 inches high. The Olds comes is the tallest at 74.5 inches but it is among the widest at 75.4 inches wide.

The high center of gravity gives this ML500 a feeling of cornering. I wasn’t happy with the jerky gas pedal and it was constantly annoying.

Styling:

My youthful years and early appreciation of the automobile began at a time when styles were pretty outlandish. Rear fender fins reached to the sky and bulges, scoops, fender skirts and way out anything you can imagine adorned the cars in the 1950’s and 1960’s. But that helped you distinguish one car make from the other. Today cars seem to blend into one another in a cookie cutter fashion with a few exceptions. Land Rover marches to a different drummer and continues to embrace the square box design.

Fit and Finish:

First class as is the case with all Mercedes products.

Conveniences:

Mercedes provides a third headrest for the rear seating area but the bad news is that it blocks the rear view for the driver.

Cost:

Pricing is at the upper end of the range for this class vehicle. SUV’s generally are high profit products. I have driven them all and if the name Mercedes is not a must for your family, the Olds Bravada and the Merc Mountaineer deliver a great option for less money.

Consumer Recommendation:

You’ll want to look closely at the competition because the price difference may not be justified outside of the badge of distinction.

The Competition:

Acura MDX $36-42,000, Audi Allroad Quattro $40-41,000, BMW X5 $39-67,000, Infiniti QX4 $35-36,000, Land Rover Discovery $34-40,000, Lexus RX 330 $35-36,000, Mercury Mountaineer $29-37,000, Oldsmobile Bravada $33-35,000.

Good News:

Powerful, good resale, high snob appeal.

Bad News:

Poor gas performance, narrow door openings, jerky gas pedal and rough ride.

Standard Equipment:

5.0 liter 288 horsepower V8 engine, 5-speed automatic trans, 4-wheel traction control with downhill system, climate control, leather with Burl Walnut Wood trim, power windows with express up and down control, leather heated front seats, cruise control, remote central locking, reading lights, 4 12 volt outlets, 5 folding cup holders, stereo with cassette, GPS navigation system with DVD, 220 lb roof rack, trip computer with compass, Tele Aid calling communications system, front and side air bags, front and rear side window bags, child seat anchors, 4-wheel abs disc brakes, front and rear fog lights, anti theft system.

Gas Stats:

14 City and 17 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $45,350.

2003 Mercedes Benz C 320 Coupe (451)

Overview:

This week I tested the entry-level 2003 C Class, C 320 coupe. Someone asked me recently as people often do, “What car do you think is the Best”?

You know, that is a very difficult question. Sure I can easily respond, Ferrari, or Lamborghini of which I’ve owned and driven various models. But there are too many variables that go into the answer. Forget money or application of the car for your need and the answer gets easier. But that isn’t the real world, even in Hollywood or other places where lots of fast lane folks make quick money and spend it faster.

At the end of the day if I wanted an all around wonderful handling car that makes me feel secure and safe, instills confidence that it will run well for a long time, provide some prestige and pride of ownership I always come back to Mercedes. I’ve owned two of them and felt it provided an image of success.

Of course I was young and impressionable and agreed with the world’s view of success. Not true I’m happy to say. When daughter Jenny told me she wanted a bigger and better house because, as she said, “I feel bad when friends visit our little house”. I suggested that if she felt that way she needs new friends. You shouldn’t feel you are being judged on what you have, but rather for who you are. Where you live and what I drive shouldn’t be the benchmark of how successful you are or what a good person you are.

My friend Winston (not Churchell) says when we make it you’ll be riding in the Bentley. Somehow that speaks volumes on how important cars have become to defining our persona. Sad, eh?

General Info:

Parts – n/a

Assembly – Germany

Class: – Compact

Cars: – C Class & Wagon, CL Class, CLK, E Class & Wagon, G Class, M, Class, S Class, SL Class & SLK.

Handling & Performance:

The C 320 resembles the parent but is still a scaled down version for entry into the world of Mercedes-Benz. Remember the Porsche 914? It was an attempt at making Porsche affordable. I think Mercedes has done a better job with a less expensive version. The Porsche 924 that followed wasn’t much better.

On another note I was a bit annoyed by the function of the gas pedal. You apply the gas and there is a pause before the engine gets the message.

Styling:

Mercedes. What else needs to be said? Its design is distinctive and classy even on a miniature scale of this youthfully designed entry level Benz. Then there is a wide and complete progression of the Mercedes line. You can now enter the brand with relative affordability.

Fit and Finish:

Pretty representative of the breed.

Conveniences:

The hatchback is good, if you like hatchbacks, but the rear window does not have a wiper, and that is NOT good. I can’t imagine how they missed the need for that.

Cost:

You enter the MBZ world for about $28,000 and work your way up to over $125,000. Or you can buy 11 or12 Kia Spectra’s for the same money. Boy, that gives a whole other meaning to automotive transportation.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you will stretch, financially, for one of these and buy a junk for your spouse, you may want to consider two less expensive cars like the Kia Spectra.

The Competition: Hatchbacks

Mercedes-Benz C 320 $28,020, Honda Civic Si $19,000, Honda Insight $19-21,000, Hyundai Accent $10-11,000, Toyota Celica $17-22,000, Hyundai Elantra $13-14,000, Volkswagen New Beetle $15-18,000.

Good News:

Nice youthful styling, powerful, quality safety and design features.

Bad News:

No rear window wiper, odd controls for cruise & radio, difficult seat adjustment and funky gas pedal.

Standard Equipment:

3.2 liter 215 hp V6 engine, 6-speed manual trans, climate control, cloth upholstery, leather tilt and telescopic steering wheel with multi function controls and shift knob, cruise control, cassette radio, 3-way adjustable front seats, power windows, auto headlights, trip computer, 24 hour roadside assistance program, dual front and side airbags, antitheft alarm with engine immobilizer & anti tow, ESP Electronic Stability Program and anti slip regulation, 4-wheel power assist disc brake system. Options: Special paint, leather upgrade, 5-speed auto trans.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 25 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP plus options $31,440.

2002 Mercedes Benz C230 Sport Coupe (409)

Overview:

This week I did a second test drive on the 2002 Mercedes Benz C230 2-door sport coupe a year later. We drove up the California central valley to Southern Oregon. I’ve never done a second test review on a car, but a year later I thought I would give this car a shake down cruise. After all, it promises so much and I wanted to know if it was worth its salt. I couldn’t think of a better test for this “Small” car with so much promise. All the questions I had that I didn’t really test the first time around I suspect you might want to know the answers too. Was it comfortable or did you feel cramped driving non-stop for 11 hours? Did it get good gas mileage? How did it handle? Did it have enough power to pull the hills? Was it so small you felt intimidated by those 18-wheelers and buses?

The amazing thing is that for a mere 7 inches shorter than the C230 Sedan you lose almost nothing and pick up about a $5,000 savings over the Sedan. Let’s see, that’s about $2,500 per door and a few inches. And after answering all the questions I’m convinced this is going to be a real big seller for Mercedes. Young and old alike have to love this car. This test included toting three adults and two children (one in a car seat). Not one complaint.

I never thought I’d see a Benz that is so affordable. They have always been out of reach for most of us. And it really is a Mercedes although it is referred to many in the industry as the “Baby Benz”. Well this Baby has my support.

Handling & Performance:

This rear wheel drive coupe is solid, corners great and is super on the highway, in the city and on the farm.

Styling:

Older readers will remember that a car with the front end lowered was a style originated in the late 1950’s and it was referred to as being “on a Rake”. Perhaps it had more to do with a fad change to lowering the rear end that remained popular until the late 1960’s and spotty even to today. The first car I put on a Rake was a 1950 Olds 88 two-door hard top coupe. The technique was to torch the springs in the front and jump on the bumper until the car was at just the right angle. Hopefully you jumped evenly or the car would List a little to port or starboard. Well, today, most cars come from the factory with that “Back to the future” design styling. Which reminds me I have a High School Reunion coming up. I wonder if everyone has aged. I know I haven’t. I feel the same as I did then.

I like the smartly designed glass section below the rear spoiler effect on this C230, which is also an adaptation of an old technique on some Italian exotics over 30 years ago. This gives added rear view vision that is helpful especially while parking.

Fit and Finish:

German quality is almost as good as the Japanese. Just kidding, but when people try harder, they usually do a better job in any field. The Japanese have traditionally had a great work ethic. Likewise, Europeans have historically been the artisans and craftsmen of the world.

Cost:

Surely one of the best buys on the market today.

Consumer Recommendation:

If you are in the market for a car under $25,000 and are either real young or you no longer have a need for a big family sedan, this is the hot ticket. Don’t miss out on an affordable version of Mercedes engineering.

Manufacturer Recommendation:

Don’t raise the price when these things start selling. Keep your focus on the fact you want to invite younger people to the world of Mercedes Benz.

The Competition: * (in order of ranking)

 (1) Audi A4 $24-31,000, (2) Mercedes Benz C230 $24,950, (2) Volvo S40 $24-27,000, (3) Acura TL $28-33,000, (4) Infiniti I30 $30-32,000, (5) Lexus IS 300 $29-31,000, (6) Saab 9-3 $26-45,000, (7) BMW 3-Series $27-42,000, (8) Lincoln LS $33-39,000 (9) Audi S4 39,000, (10) Jaguar S-Type $43-49,000,  (12) BMW M3 $45-53,000.

* – Ranking is based on cost, cu ft, number of features, warranty and gas mileage.

Good News:

Well priced, good gas performance, Mercedes engineering.

Bad News:

Still none that matters.

Standard Equipment:

2.3 liter 192 horsepower supercharged engine, 6-speed manual transmission, dual zone climate control, leather steering wheel with leather shift knob, split fold down rear seat, cloth upholstery, smart key, cruise control, 8-way manual front seats, manual tilt and telescopic steering wheel, power windows, auto headlights with twilight sensor, heated power auto-dimming driver mirror, trip computer, 4 year 50,000 mile warranty, dual front and side airbags, baby smart seat recognition system, anti-theft and immobilizer, electronic stability program, anti-slip regulation and 4-wheel ABS power disc brakes.
Gas Stats:
19 City and 29 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $24,950.

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@atthewheel.com

2001 Mercedes Benz E320 Wagon (344)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the Mercedes Benz E320 Wagon and I really hated to give it back. Does that tell you anything? Yes, I liked it a lot but it wasn’t without a few flaws. First, I liked the cargo area cover they had designed to lift out of the way when you open the tailgate.

Good idea, but I just couldn’t get used to pulling it back down before I closed the gate. Then when I looked into the rear view mirror next time it was invariably after getting on the highway, or freeway and your visibility is zero out the back window. Then you’d have to pull over go around and pull it out of the way.

I also was ticked because the rubber cover on the emergency brake peddle fell off a few times. You just have to wonder what else is falling off that you can’t see.

On the other hand, I loved most of the things they do for the mature drivers, like the fully automatic window controls so you can put the windows up or down with the flick on a button. I always wanted to tell other designers that I’m a big boy and can be trusted to know when and when not to use that feature. Most try to protect me from myself, as they must expect I’ll get my extremities caught in the closing window.

Handling & Performance:

Of course Mercedes Benz is simply the greatest car in the world to drive and I can’t say enough, and for that matter I can’t say too many good things. This is such a smart car and the ESP – stability program will really impress you too.

Some folks rave about the “TipTronic”, or Touch Shift feature to shift but I find it nearly useless. But just the great handling characteristics of this car make it a dream come true for those who love to drive. This will hug the curves like I hug my wife. “G” Force!

Styling:

Mercedes has never been more beautifully designed, and all models follow the same look and feel so whatever your price range you get that great Benz look.

They’ve designed in a single windshield wiper that works great. So why cant every car take a lesson from MB?

Fit and Finish:

Of course Mercedes cars are built with outstanding attention to detail, and the components are the finest. But even the best sometimes fail and so I didn’t get too excited when the outside temperature reading was 140 degrees.

Conveniences:

Usually they provide the best and this was no exception even if it didn’t have the rain sensing windshield wipers and the air-conditioned seats.

Cost:

Very pricey. In fact the options on this model, including a Glass Sunroof, special paint and special order items brought the price to over $55 grand.

Recommendation:

This is a great family car and it has most of the conveniences of an SUV, except for the off road capability, and that is almost never needed or used. It is estimated that more than 75% of the SUV’s never get off road, so if you don’t need that, consider a Van or a Station Wagon. Although I love Mercedes automobiles, I think I’d opt for the Volvo for the cost savings.

The Competition:

Audi A6 Avant $37,350, BMW 5-Series Sport Wagon $37,200-53,480, Saab 9-5 Wagon $34,695,40,875, Volvo V70 $29,450-34,950.

Good News:

It’s a Mercedes Benz, good gas performance, and a history of quality.

Bad News:

Pricey, touch shift is an almost useless appendage.

Standard Equipment:

3.2 liter V6 engine, 5-speed touch shift auto trans, speed sensitive steering, dual zone climate control, 10-way electric front seats, multi function steering wheel, 8-speaker sound system with weather band, cassette, leather upholstery, burl walnut trim, electric adjustable steering column, power windows, tele/aid emergency calling, dual front air bags and side front and rear air bags, baby-smart child seat recognition system, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, antitheft alarm with engine immobolizer and anti tow, ESP (Electronic Stability Program).

Gas Stats:

20 City and 28 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $47,850.

2001 Mercedes Benz C320 (336)

Overview:

This week we’re looking at the Mercedes Benz C320 5-passenger Sedan, and if you haven’t guessed from past reviews about Mercedes Benz automobiles or reference to them, these are my favorite cars perhaps in the world. In the weeks to follow I will be talking about other Mercedes Benz models including the ML430 and the E320 Wagon.

Yes, I get a thrill driving Ferrari and other very unique and special cars, but you pay for the difference in big bucks. You have to ask yourself, do I really need the added engineering and special touches simply to go from one place to another? Should driving “BE” the journey, or should the destination be more important. Do you need to impress people or are you a self-assured person who needs no icon of who you are, beside “Who you Are”?

Well, at the end of the day, we pick out a car we think we’ll look good in, and one that makes us feel good about ourselves. We hear so often “You are what you drive”. That’s poppycock and advertising hype to make us spend more on a car that we can afford. If we bought what we need we would spend 25% of the cost of this C320. And more importantly we have changing needs and for the price of one Mercedes we could just about have one of each type of car, truck, van, SUV and motorcycle for the same money. Go figure.

For me however, and only after driving nearly every car imaginable, I’d most likely pick the Mercedes Benz line of cars for my personal passenger car for some right and wrong reasons.

Handling & Performance:

Bellisimo – Simply the best of the best. Just take one for a ride through the mountains. They hug the road and truly love of the curves as much as I do.

Styling:

In my view, it is second to none, but I have a love affair with Ferrari because they are beautifully classy cars. Cars like this say, “you’ve arrived”. And we all know the world perceives you differently based on the car you drive, because people truly think “You are what you drive”.

Fit and Finish:

Without question this is the finest manufactured car in the world. Sorry Rolls Royce. And although I love the class of a Ferrari, Italian cars are not known for trouble free driving. I remember my Fiat (Fix it again Tony). Jaguar and other British made cars are easily as bad. But don’t get me wrong, BMW and Audi have terrible quality histories, and they’re both German made.

Conveniences:

There are no cars that do more to pamper you. From moisture sensing windshield wipers to air-conditioned seats in some models. Mercedes will pleasantly surprise you at every turn.

Cost:

Expensive, but not bad for all you get, and much more affordable than you’d expect. And if you really want to look cool but don\’t have the dough, lease it in today\’s world with an attitude that you should \”Fly now, Pay later\”.

Recommendation:

Drive a Mercedes Benz so you can judge other cars based on that driving experience. This is the “Cadillac of the 21st Century” and the standard by which all cars must be measured. Sorry Cadillac, but Mercedes has unquestionably eclipsed the “Standard of Excellence” which was Cadillac for the 20th Century.

The Competition:

Acura TL $28,880-33,230,Audi A4 $24,540-30,990, BMW 3-Series $26,990-42,400, Cadillac Catera $31,305, Infiniti I30 $29,465-31,540, Jaguar X-Type $29,950, Lexus IS 300 $30,805, Lincoln LS $32,090-36,120, Volvo S40 $23,500-27,350.

Good News:

Best of the best in most categories.

Bad News:

Expensive to buy.

Standard Equipment:

3.2 liter 215 horsepower V6 engine, 5-speed automatic trans, dual zone climate control, leather seating, wood trim, leather steering wheel and shift knob, SmartKey, cruise control, digital sound system with weather band and cassette, 12 way electric front seats, multifunction steering wheel with tilt and telescopic adjustment, power windows, auto headlights, trip computer, emergency calling communications system, dual front and side air bags, antitheft system, ESP – electronic stability program, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, rain sensing intermittent wiper system, glass sunroof.

Gas Stats:

19 City and 26 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP – $39,560

2000 MERCEDES S500 (260)

Overview:

Price

Joe 

Hey Joe:The last time I drove the S500 (previously the W140) I was blown away by such incredible confidence and overall behavior. Other than the squared off looks I wondered how could they make it any better? Well the 2000 S500 is better. Well Mr. Cobb:It’s hard to debate perfection, but this S500 is far from perfect, even if I agree it is a better car than most. Perhaps it’s the best that money will buy. But when I pay the price of the Space Shuttle for a car, you’d think they could make it easier for me to operate.
Today’s S-Class looks less foreboding. It looks smaller and certainly friendlier, yet open the doors and you can lounge in a den like interior. It is truly striking. Seats are nice, with every position imaginable at your fingertips including a “massaging” air bladder system and seat coolers! You’ve heard of seat heaters but cooling the seat is a new one on me. Works fairly well by drawing air through the cushion.  I like the new styling too and had positive comments from others about its smaller look with a roomy feel. And although the interior is “den” like, I didn’t like the seats as much as you did. The seat bottom protrudes awkwardly and hits the back of my legs, which is annoying.  Speaking of being on the hot seat, I too liked the seat cooler. Bet you could use that in your Indy racecar.

Price                          Technical:

Joe                                   Technical:

I got out the manuals and found that Mercedes has been hard at work trimming up their flagship from its last iteration. I felt it was too big. But the 2000 version is both smaller and larger. It\’s shorter by 2.1 inches, with a lower roofline of 1 inch. The crafty Mercedes folks actually increased the rear legroom by two inches and even have an optional reclining rear seat package.Scanning the specifications takes an engineering degree. There’s traction control, ESP (electronic stability program), a cute acronym for a yaw stabilizer (senses yaw, or turning around a center point not in concert with where you are trying to go) and corrects for it. By applying individual brakes front or rear, and reducing power when needed, the S500 will help all of us continue traveling in our intended direction. Adaptive shock absorbers continually monitor the ride and can adjust a corner individually.Befitting a car of the S500’s stature, Brembo calipers are used for braking. They are the calipers of choice in the endurance-racing world. They have also included a braking sequence by which the system can sense the speed a person activates the brake pedal. This applies maximum available power boost to reduce overall stopping distance by eliminating the natural tendency of humans not to brake hard enough or soon enough in tight situations. It is neigh impossible to ruffle the S500’s feathers and that gives more control to the driver when they need to avoid something in a hurry. Technically I trust your judgment and since I don’t have an engineering degree I won’t argue those points. I’m a little curious that a professional race driver like you would consider those engineered control features are for both of us. I agree that “I”need the help, but I’ve seen you and other pros drive and hardly consider “you” needing the car to control your behavior behind the wheel.
Price                 Features & Design: Joe                    Features & Design:

Driving position is good with an overwhelming array of buttons, switches and gadgets at your fingertips.

 

 

Right on Price – there is an overwhelming array of buttons, switches and gadgets. I agree, but why do I need them? I have never been more frustrated by the complexity of all those gadgets. I like computers but this is ridiculous. It takes a 12-year-old child to figure it all out. Trouble is 12 year olds aren’t likely to shell out $80 grand for this car. So why didn’t Mercedes use some of their engineering talent to make this stuff usable? Most adults still watch the VCR flash 12:00 rather than try to figure out how to set the time.
Center of the dash, just north of the console where the perfect shifter lives is the “Command” cockpit management and data system. This thing is basically a LCD 5” color TV, connected to a navigation system, radio, cassette, and optional voice activated cell phone and CD-changer. All of this is hooked together by some high tech fiber optics that accomplishes two things. Great speed without electrical interference and less weight. And that 5” TV screen – a disaster. I’ve operated several navigation systems and all were “user friendly” but this thing busts my chops. And the integration with the radio complicates things even further. It takes an act of congress to change from AM to FM. Whoever designed that system should be taken out and shot. Woops, I hope the folks at Mercedes don’t read this. They don’t still… no, I\’m sure they don’t.
Mercedes have been flat busting their tails to build cars that are more affordable. The 2000 S500 is a full 765 pounds lighter than the previous year, and even when coupled with a less peak power 5 liter V-8 it is still considerably quicker and more nimble. Part of the weight savings is from the fiber optics, elimination of double paned windows, and the air suspension system. Certainly a case where less is more. I appreciate their effort to be more affordable and I love to drive fast and I have to admit this S500 delivers performance … for a price.
Price                               Pricing: Joe                                 Pricing:
I can assure you I haven’t mentioned all the interesting things that make up the S500, but the bottom line is this car is a marvel and considering last year’s comparable S500 would set you back almost ninety grand.  This year’s model, an undeniably better automobile, starts at seventy eight thousand, or a saving of ten grand! Alright, nifty and marvelous, but even though the price came down significantly, this class of car is priced more like trains, planes and houses. I can get a simpler electronic system in seven Saturn’s for the price of one S500. Go figure why we’d pay so much to drive to work. But then the cost of the S500 is much less than one of your racecars you use “at work”. And you can’t even take yours to the supermarket. I DO feel much safer on the autobahn in a Mercedes even without Michelins, so in that sense it’s worth every cent.
Price                         Performance: Joe                            Performance:
The perfect shifter I mentioned above is a better version of at least a half dozen iterations of the “slap” shifter, tip shift, Tip Tronic, etc. Most of them still incorporate a serpentine PRND321 slot and a gate off to the side. Mercedes brings it all together with a strait and simple PRND slot so if you feel you need some other gear, just slap the lever left or right to shift down or up. No extra gates, no fumbling or trying to find the hole. What a delight! The “Perfect Shifter”, as you call it, that you just have to slap right or left is a great design. That is the simplest “TipTronic” I’ve seen. But whatever it’s called, I couldn’t find a use for it. Call me lazy but automatics these days shift so well “Slap Stick” is only good for a laugh. As to the sound system that I use all the time, it is anything but simple, and that iasn’t funny at all. The transmission designer should have designed the command center.
 In the end, and for now, until I drive something better I have to say the 2000 S500 is perhaps the finest car in the world. Nothing has been left untouched in the 2000 model, all with a higher degree of refinement than ever before, making this without a doubt one of engineering’s finest hours. My hat is way off to Mercedes who have gone the extra mile! I\’m speechless Price. In the final analysis you gotta call a spade a spade and this is truly my most favorite car to drive.

 

Good News:

 

I was confident with its overall behavior, liked the den like interior, seat coolers and the perfect shifter. Great new styling and  more affordable. Great stabilizing electronics are the cat’s meow that helps all drivers. The car is a marvel and perhaps the finest car in the world

I too like the handling of Mercedes and was thrilled to drive one in Germany\’s autobahn\’s. Ditto on styling, stability engineering and that great \”Slap Stick\”.

 

Bad News:

 

Need an engineering degree to operate gadgetry. Pricey –  priced more like the Space Shuttle. Frustratingly difficult array of buttons, switches and gadgets.

 

Point/CounterPoint Conclusion:

The S500 may be the best “and” the worst at the same time. It\’s perhaps the best engineered car in the world with the worst user unfriendly gadgets in the world. But at the end of the day, and considering everything it appears that we surely agree that the Mercedes S500 deserves two checkered flags.

The Competition:

Audi A8 $57,400 – $65,000, Bentley Arnage $203,800, BMW 7-Series $62,400 – 124,400, Jaguar XJ Sedan $55,200 – $67,450, Lexus LS $53,80, Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph $216,400.

Standard Equipment:

S Class comes in two models, the S430 and S500. Both come with dual front airbags that deploy at different rates based on the speed of the collision; front and rear side airbags; head protection curtains; Automatic Slip Control (ASR); Electronic Stability Program (ESP); an anti-lock brake system (ABS); and Brake Assist, which applies full braking during a panic stop. Powering the S430 is a 4.3-liter V8 engine producing 275 horsepower, while the S500 gets a 5.0-liter 302-horsepower V8. The S-Class touts a long list of standard equipment, including dual-zone automatic climate control, power windows and door locks, a GPS navigation system, the TeleAid communication system, leather seats, eucalyptus wood trim, and a Bose ten-speaker sound system. The S500 upgrades with \”glove-soft\” Nappa leather seats, burl walnut trim, xenon high-intensity headlights and headlight washers.

Gas Stats:

16 City and 23 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $77,850

1999 Mercedes C-230 Kompressor (259)

Overview:

This Mercedes-Benz C-230 Kompressor 5-passenger sedan is pretty impressive for the money. Price range: $31,200 – $53,000. And if you were wondering what Kompressor stands for, it means it is Supercharged. You’ll recall Supercharged differs from Turbocharged in the manner in which the added thrust is provided.

Superchargers are belt driven and Turbo’s are exhaust driven. For 1999 Mercedes-Benz added more power to the C-Class by taking the supercharged engine from the SLK and putting it in the C230.

Remember when Porsche came out with an affordable car and called it the 914? Well, there was quite a backlash and people thought it more of a glorified VW than a Porsche. Well, it seems whatever Mercedes Benz does, the car is still unmistakably a Mercedes. They come with that wonderful feel of being the best there is in the driving experience. I fall in love every time I get the request to test drive one of these wonderful automobiles. Tuxedo is optional.

Brother John wouldn’t agree since his car of choice is Ferrari. In his mostly foreign auto repair shop he drove them all and worked on Mercedes as well. But his love affair was with his Black Daytona Ferrari, 12 cylinder performance to the max, $150,000 commuter. Hell, a tune up was about $3,000. I wonder if that included spark plugs? In any case a little rich for my blood. I loved to drive it and they have a way of getting your heart started. A relationship without strings. Sometimes even two seats are more than you need. That’s when you get the Harley Davidson out of the garage and go solo. Sorry John, I believe that if any cars achieve overall perfection it has to be those from Mercedes Benz.

History: Mercedes-Benz had its beginnings in 1886 when Karl Benz was granted a patent for the world\’s first motor car. In 1901, Daimler acquired the rights to the name Mercedes. In 1926, Daimler and Benz merged, and since 1989 Mercedes-Benz has been in charge of all motor vehicle business within the Daimler-Benz group. Mercedes-Benz models are now sold in over 170 countries, with approximately 380 dealerships in North America alone.

Although the C-Class is the entry-level sedan it’s a midsize car and as equipped I put it in the luxury category. The C-Class replaced the 190 trim beginning in 1993. The numeric part of a Mercedes-Benz model name reflects the car\’s engine displacement in liters. In this case the C230 refers to it being a C-Class with a 2.3 liter engine. When I was first married our dream car was the 190 SL sports car. But times changed and the dream was cut short by the arrival of children, which meant practical became the new keyword. Dreams are great aren’t they?

And speaking of children, it’s comforting to know that all Mercedes-Benz models now feature a sensor that deactivates the passenger airbag if weight in the passenger seat is less than 26 pounds—a safety feature designed to protect small children in suburbia and poodles in Beverly Hills.

The 1999 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is available in three trims: C230 Kompressor, C280 and C43 4-door sedans.

The Competition:

Acura TL $27,950, Audi A4 $23,790 – $30,040, BMW 3-Series $26,990 – $33,990, BMW M3 $39,700 – $45,900, Cadillac Catera $34,180, Chrysler LHS $28,950, Infiniti I30 $28,900 – $31,200, Lexus ES 300 $30,905, Mazda Millenia $26,745 – $31,245, Mitsubishi Diamante $27,199, Saab 9-3 $25,900 – $43,995, Volvo S70 $27,385 – $33,520.

Good News:

Mercedes safety, meticulous quality, great styling, superb handling, outstanding performance with the supercharger, Unmistakably Mercedes-Benz

Bad News:

Cramped rear seating, entry and exit not built for big people, controls are not as intuitive as many in its class.

Standard Equipment:

Supercharged 2.3-liter 185-horsepower 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed auto trans, air conditioning, 10-way power front seats, remote keyless system, stereo with cassette, leather, Burl Walnut trim, power windows, cruise control, auto-dimming mirrors, dual front and side airbags, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, passenger seat occupancy sensor and baby smart sensor, cruise control and anti-slip system.

Gas Stats:

21 City and 29 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $31,200, and the model I tested added a glass sunroof, special paint full sport package CD changer, phone, rain sensor Xenon headlights for a total of $37,180.

1999 Mercedes E55 AMG (249)

Overview:

Awesome – and the story would end there except this Mercedes Benz E 55 was so much fun to drive I have to share the feeling with you. With a price range of $42,400 – $69,100 for the E-Class you can have the joy of driving perhaps the best-engineered car in the world today. This E 55 is at the top of the class in price and performance. It is, in a word, awesome.

I drove an E 420 through much of Europe and the autobahns gave me a sense of how well cars need to be designed for such demanding conditions. I test on the track from time to time, but I\’m not a professional race driver. Neither are the drivers on the autobahns of Germany. But they routinely drive 200 km / hr., or about 120 mph. And to do that, drivers must be good. I’ve said it before – European drivers are truly the best in the world. They display disciplined etiquette, perhaps because of the danger involved at high speed while we in the US hear to often that American drivers display \”road rage\”. Personally, I believe that results from the cultural diversity we find on our highways. We have accomplished drivers and others on the road with them who just learned to drive last week when they arrived from some ox cart country. The disparity in skill is frustrating to all concerned. That disparity of driving skill doesn’t happen in Europe, because a license to drive is taken seriously and thus much more difficult to fulfil the requirements.

Anyway, thanks to Mercedes for the thrill. I also had the good fortune to drive this car in the rain and thus learning about other examples of great engineering. I really like the single windshield wiper design. It gives a single clean and clear swipe of the glass that eliminates the overlap marks left by traditional wiper systems. And more importantly the advanced system electronically measures the amount of rain on the windshield and automatically adjusts the speed. Wow, it’s true that the only thing money won’t buy is poverty. Are they good or what? Another even more important safety feature is the Electronic Stability Program (ESP). This truly is phenomenal. It assists the driver when they oversteer and are in danger of losing control. It will alter braking and power to keep you going in the direction you point the car. Amazing. I pushed the limits going into turns and found the car has a mind of its own. If you get stupid, it senses that and takes control to keep you from crashing.

The 1999 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is available in five trims: E300 Turbodiesel, E320, E320 4-Matic, E430, and the limited edition E55. I, like most Americans, can’t warm up to the diesel versions. It also detracts from the elegance of Mercedes and they should dump that or make it an option people can forget about. And the E 55 with the big V8 was more fun than should be allowed. Truly a natural high and cheaper than drugs.

The Competition:

Acura RL $41,900 Audi A6 $33,750 – $35,400 BMW 5-Series $38,900 – $53,900 Cadillac Seville $43,355 – $48,050 Infiniti Q45 $48,200 – $49,900 Jaguar XJ Sedan $55,200 – $67,450 Lexus GS 300/400 $37,305 – $45,505 Lincoln Continental $38,525 Saab 9-5 $31,025 – $37,450 Volvo S80 $35,820 – $40,385.

Good News:

Unmistakably Mercedes-Benz with a modern look, good fuel efficiency for the great performance, aerodynamic – if it had wings it would fly, top quality in all the world, outstanding handling and performance, roomy comfort.

Bad News:

If there is any, it isn’t significant. But if I had to get picky it would be that the cruise control lever is too close to the turn indicator lever and I confuse the two.

Standard Equipment:

5.5 liter AMG Twin spark 349 horsepower V8, 5-speed auto trans, dual climate control, front heated 3 position memory seats, remote keyless entry, black and silver leather, maple trim, power windows, tilt & tele steering column, moonroof, rear sun shade, dual front and side airbags, 4-wheel power antilocking disc brakes, anti theft alarm system, Electronic Stability Program (ESP).

Gas Stats:

16 City and 23 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $69,100