By on March 9, 2009

My experience running the 2005 One Lap of America (OLOA) in a Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16/ had left me more than a little cynical about the event. The fantasy of running the “modern-day Cannonball” had been eclipsed by frustration with the quasi-time-trial, horsepower-obsessed reality that is OLOA in the modern era. Still, the competitive disease from which both I and my co-driver Brian suffered meant that we wanted to “win” the thing before we left Brock’s Big Parade for the greener pastures of real wheel-to-wheel racing. Enter former radiologist and current Mercedes-Benz tuner, Satish Tummala, owner of Motorwerks in Detroit.

Satish proposed that we run a Kleemann-tuned diesel E320 in the event’s “Alternative Fuel” class. The only entrants listed in AltFuel were three TDI-powered Volkswagens. Awesome. With twice a TDI’s horsepower, we’d be bringing a gun to a knife fight. Within days of our fanfare-filled announcement that we would be contesting OLOA 2006 in a diesel Benz, the Volkswagens all removed their registrations. They could read the writing on the wall as well as we could. This meant that, as Alain de Cadenet might say, it would be “victory by default.”

Our 2005-model E320 CDI was, in many ways, a perfect example of why many long-term Mercedes loyalists have abandoned the brand. The interior was indifferently constructed from low-value materials. After just 30,000 miles and one year’s worth of use, there was more visible wear on the surfaces than there had been on my two-decade-old, 236,000-mile 190E. Throughout the car, there was a visible emphasis on style which simply is not present in pre-1995 Mercedes-Benzes, from the cheap-looking “floating needle” gauges to the wobbly chrome rings which controlled interior temperature and radio volume. Too much flash, not enough substance.

This fifty-thousand-dollar-plus car really didn’t look the part, inside or out; worse than that, it wasn’t up to the traditional standards of the brand. The following year’s E-class would rectify some of these issues, particularly with regards to materials quality. But that was no comfort to us as we crossed the country in seats that gently wobbled in their mountings with every expansion joint.

Fortunately for us, the engine made up for many of the car’s surface deficiencies. With a V8′s worth of shove from idle and a most un-diesel-like willingness to hustle all the way through the short rev range, the CDI was smooth and strong. This was the very last Mercedes-Benz sedan available with an inline six. It was a joy to pop the characteristic ninety-degree-opening Benz bonnet and see a real engine there instead of a cost-cutting, crash-conscious, cravenly cheap V-6.

Unfortunately, we found ourselves opening that bonnet time and time again. The Kleemann upgrades, which consisted of aggressive programming and additional fuel injection hardware, made plenty of extra power but caused the E320 to enter “limp-home” mode twice during our first few on-track events. As we passed through Pat Metheny’s hometown of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, we made the decision to return the big Benz back to stock, right there in the parking lot of a Speedway gas station.

With this accomplished, it was time to salvage some minor glory out of a default victory. Around VIR’s Full Course, the E320 was six seconds a lap faster than our 190E 2.3-16 had been the previous year, and “only” ten seconds a lap behind self-proclaimed stunt driver Ken Block in his mega-bucks Subaru STi. Around Putnam Park, I was able to put the smoky, slow-steering Benz ahead of a variety of BMWs, Corvettes, and the aforementioned Block-mobile, setting the front brakes on fire in the process.

There’s something both reassuring and terrifying about tracking a two-ton-plus diesel sedan. The sheer magnitude of the steering motion required to make the car turn, slide, and recover approaches community-theater levels of exaggeration, the brake pedal presents a different level of fade and feel in every turn, and the infamous M-B ESP intervenes at precisely the wrong moments, “dyno mode” or no. By the end of the event, the car felt tired, plain and simple, although the diesel never faltered once freed of its aftermarket junk.

Secure in the knowledge that we could not lose this event, my co-driver and I proceeded to engage in an unfortunate bit of hoonage that ended up with me being dragged behind a driverless E320 as it headed for a very well-occupied paddock. After a long discussion with an enormous security guard holding an even larger pistol, we decided to skip the rest of the event, bandage up my feet, and get our trophies in the mail. Pro tip: don’t “hang out” of the car while doing parking-lot donuts, okay? Lesson. Learned.

To this day, I regret selling my 190E 2.3-16, but we walked away from this E320 without a second thought. It simply wasn’t a very good car, and more unforgivably than that, it wasn’t much of a Mercedes. Let’s hope that the new E-class proves itself more worthy of the three-pointed star; it could hardly prove to be less.

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44 Comments on “Used Review: 2005 Mercedes E320 CDI...”


  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    For “much of a Mercedes,” in case one needs reminding, here are some very detailed pic’s of a 220E Sportline from 1994 …
    Mercedes porn in a “regular” car. >Every cubic centimeter has been superbly engineered here:

    http://www.finn.no/finn/viewimage?finnkode=16496664&reference=4/164/966/64_-559621675.jpg&adheading=Mercedes-Benz+E-Klasse+E+220+T+-+SPORTLINE+-+ASD+Stasjonsvogn+1994%2C+113640+km.%2C+kr.+169.000%2C+-&adTypeId=20&areaId=3140

  • avatar
    JJ

    Mercedes really lost it’s way in the 90s and thankfully they have had (are having) to pay for with BMW and Audi being much more competitive with them than say, before 1994.
    Right now, I’d take any BMW over its Mercedes counterpart and the same goes for almost any Audi, too.

    Mercedes just got too convinced that the badge would sell the cars no matter what, and while that holds true to a certain extend (still seen with those useless AMG cars today), there is a fine line that when crossed makes your brand worth a whole lot less all of a sudden and then you’re screwed.

    I hope someone at BMW will realize this before they have a fleet of 1/3/5GTs rolling around with crappy interiors.

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    This is so sad. What is the fan of traditional German cars to do? Mercedes are at least trying to get back to the ways of old.

    BMW, on the other hand, is hell-bent on building ugly cars with computer-driven dashboards. Even the departure of Mr. Bungle himself has not yielded any results, with his successor promising us yet more flame surfaced monstrosities to come. At the same time they will invent more niches after the success of the X6. What’s next – a three door 7 series with only one seat in the back?

    That leaves the lover of Germanic precision with Audi, who does not do rear wheel drive. You can choose have front wheel drive, but you can have that in a VW for quite a lot less. The only difference between a Golf and an A3 is a nicer interior.

    Audi will also sell you an overweight and overpriced Quattro version of whatever grabs your fancy. Living in a part of the world where it snows once in a decade, that does not float my boat.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    For the most part I agree that MB lost their way and are fighting back, but not on every front. I had to drive a new C300 while my wife’s SLK was in the shop, and that car was a complete heap of shit. Outside it looked nice, but somewhat generic. The grill and headlights are the nicest part of the car, the rest might as well be a Jetta, IMO. The interior looked and felt cheap, with parts that fit poorly and leather that didn’t look or feel like the real deal. The car barely had 5,000 miles on the ODO and the sunroof wasn’t working right, the radio knob felt like it might fall off, and the driver’s seat already had noticeable wear. All in all, the car left a very poor impression, and did not seem like the quality that I used to associate with Mercedes. I think maybe Mercedes should quit trying to build to a price and just build the cars they used to. M-B should be high quality luxury with no compromise. Not an entry level C Class that’s no better than a car that costs 10 grand less with any other badge on it.

  • avatar
    Tummy

    We have an 2004 E500 4Matic and none of the seat wobble you mentioned. There are some cheap plastic controls, especially the temp control, but nothing too terrible. It’s still way better than the interior in our Infiniti FX and Honda. Everything feels very solid. No problems with the car and it’s great for comfortable drives.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    Aaaaah, the beauty of the W211 diesel powered E Class…

    My dad had one as a company car for a while (just after it came out in 2003). It will probably forever mark the least reliable vehicle my family ever ran, beating even the Audi A4, from 1995, and comfortably lunging ahead of all second hand cars my father used to run in the 80s, where his annual mileage made buying new a prohibitive excercise. Even cars one was always advised to poke with a very long pole at best, such as a Renault 30, a Mazda 929 (as opposed to the US, those things had quite a bad reputation in Europe and spares were expensive and hard to come by), a Ford Sierra, all gave the Merc a run for the money in terms of reliability.

    To be honest, it was the first time in any of our lives that a new car broke down and had to be towed away before it reached 3000 miles. In 2.5 years of ownership and 50k miles the car had the whole braking system replaced (after a friendly warning at 130mph that the brakes do not work and the car needs to be switched off immediately – before any comments, it was on an empty German Autobahn, where speeds such as that are legal, as well as perfectly safe), the front suspension had to go, the Command system was replaced 4 times, without it ever working fully, the car went through three batteries, even though it was driven all the time and primarily on long distance drives, the turbocharger went pop, the fuel hose snapped, leaving a very unappealing engine room full of diesel fuel / fumes, the air sensor for the engine went on several occasions, always crippling the car, etc.

    Just to add to the understanding of the situation, my old man’s got over 2.5 million miles behind him and does know how to have a car serviced and always in peak condition. It’s only that for this car this meant the amount of time on the road almost equalled the amount of time in the garage :(

  • avatar

    Ironically “Farmer’s Trust” from Pat Metheny came up on my random iTunes playlist right as you mentioned his name. Spooky!

    Did you run any REAL “alt-fuel” in your “alt-fuel” entry Jack?

    I’ve actually been casually searching for an old 300CD, the old 2-door version of the legendary W124, preferably a turbo-Diesel. I’d never consider an 90s Benz, Diesel or not.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    NickR

    Kristjan Ambroz, we should compare notes sometime and see which was worse, your dad’s car or my 95 C-Class. I am quite confident I could still pull off a win.

    It’s refreshing to see an automotive journalist call Mercedes on it’s crappy product. Most of them dote on Mercedes products and ignore the fact that you’d be hard pressed to find a less reliable marque in the North American market.

  • avatar

    @BMWnut keep the faith… Bangle’s only been gone a month or so – it is possible that sanity will once again reign in Munich. I considered the purchase of my ’07 335i a minor crime visually (still do), but I don’t have to look at it beyond the Chevrolet dashboard (non-iDrive equipped) while I am driving. But the driving is still very much BMW on the street and on the track.

    The latest abortion called Z4 is not a hope-filled promise, I admit, but the 3-er coupe is a much better rendition of the traditional shape and the M3 in both sedan and coupe lost its godawful chrome mustache on the nostrils. Small progress…

  • avatar

    FWIW, the refresh was with the 2007.

    Drove one of these a few years ago. Great torque, awful suspension. So floaty and vague, I can’t imagine tracking one. Does the extra weight of the diesel upset the balance of the car so much?

    TrueDelta might have reliability stats for this model year of the E-Class in May. The 2008 has been about average so far.

    http://www.truedelta.com/car-reliability.php?stage=pt&bd=Mercedes-Benz&mc=186&email=Guest

  • avatar
    McDoughnut

    My Dad had a 1958 220SE – with the big sunroof that folded up according style right above the back seat passengers knees – it was huge.

    Not only did it have the legendary MB reliability but you could fix it too. I learned everything about how a car works from that car (and a 72 VW Bug).

    With a grill full of 100Km badges, we’d stop off at the local dealer once a month for parts. The parts guys knew dad all too well – as they never anything in stock. All good fun until one day in the late 80′s a sales manager came up to us while waiting for parts and said that we had to move the car as having it parked in front of the dealership “was not appreciated”.

    After getting home Dad promptly typed out a letter back to the Germany and the mothership (auf Deutsch, of course) along with a picture of his 220SE’s grill.

    About a month later we received a tersely worded reply:

    Herr Doctor….this was unfortunate (German for apology)…..you are welcome to park your car anywhere you like….

    Next trip to the dealer parts dept we parked out front and were greeted by the owner himself who gave us the grand tour of the place while the parts guys ran around like banshees trying to get whatever o-ring or ball joint was needed for the weekend maintenance project.

    Later, we found out that the blowback from Dad’s letter came directly from Germany and just short of life threatening as far as the local dealership was concerned.

    Several years later after the car succumbed to rust the MB dealer begged to take it in on trade (so he could stop stocking so many old 220SE parts) and Dad picked up a 94 300E which he still has today.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Ahhhh, memories of my W123 (1980 300D). 240,000 miles when I ditched her, and it still felt like it was carved from one solid piece of metal.

    (Really, REALLY slow moving metal, mind you…)

  • avatar
    Areitu

    I had the chance to drive an E350 last year, and while I was very impressed with the powertrain and suspension, I didn’t appreciate the road noise and the cheap plastics in the interior. It was $30,000 nice, but not $52,000 nice.

  • avatar
    shoes

    I must come to the defense of this vehicle. I owned a 2005 E320 CDI and it was one of the best cars I have ever owned. Much of Mercedes lamented quality issues peaked in 2003 and once electronics suppliers were swapped in the 2004 model year, things steadily improved, so 2005 was a decent vintage. The inline six clearly was the highlight of this car and I averaged 34 mpg over the 30,000 miles I owned it. I had zero warranty issues or defects over that same period. I loved the torquey throttle and smooth power delivery. I found the car comfortable over long distances and regret that I don’t own one today.

    Having said this, there were a couple of major flaws with the design. First, those electronic brakes were impossible to modulate and second, the air suspension was unavailable for the diesel powered cars so the ride quality was state of the art for 1970 and a little too crusty for a proported luxury car.

  • avatar
    ctoan

    Being young and poor as I am, I fear I’ll never get to own a “real” Mercedes-Benz in properly-maintained glory before they all rot away. That’s the problem with coasting on image: the young and impressionable don’t see a long heritage of quality, they see a piece of crap, and let me tell you, there’s nothing the young and impressionable love more than saying that the emperor has no clothes. Now, these people certainly aren’t buying new or even used MBs, and while it’s way too much to ask that MB try to make themselves desirable amongst this market, they can cement the idea in people’s heads of relentless quality, and that’ll last. 20 years later, and guess who wants a comfortable highway cruiser?

  • avatar
    Tummy

    Areitu : lucky for us a certified used 2007 E350 with pretty low miles can be had for less than 30k. 25k for a 06, 20k for an 05. I’ve read that quality after the 2006 facelift has really improved. Resale value on E-Class has been plummeting lately due to the model change, lots of lease returns and crappy economy.

    I would much rather spend $25-30k on a used E class than the same amount of money on a Toyota Camry, Accord, or other appliance.

  • avatar
    Thinx

    I know about a dozen people who own various versions of the W211 series of E-class sedans, most of them of the 2004/2005 vintage.

    While I agree about the cheaper surface materials, none of the first hand reports I have heard have reported reliability and/or build quality issues. Less than thrilled with the dealer/service aspects, but that is a different matter.

    They don’t feel as rock-solid as the W124 I recall from my childhood, of course – but I have not heard any horror stories either. It is possible that quality “control” – especially around parts suppliers – rather than base quality itself was poor, which made the whole thing a russian roulette, but my limited sample set seems to be doing okay.

  • avatar
    Schm

    Oh, the legendary W211 CDI. My father has one that he bought on my advice. Yes, some of the plastics are rubbish. Yes, there are some serious features that it’s lacking (xenons, sat radio, etc) but it’s a nice car. The interior is out-of date though. I believe that the new W212 interior is light-years ahead however.

    We have a MY2006 car, and haven’t had any serious (or semi-serious) problems with almost 50k. And that I6 is sweet and gets fantastic gas mileage. The general rule of thumb is that the newer MY you get, the better MB’s reliability becomes (I.E. 03-04 much riskier than 07-08)

    Also, yeah the steering is vague. It’s not a track car, more of an Autobahn cruiser.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    shoes: The inline six clearly was the highlight of this car

    Schm: And that I6 is sweet

    The 320 CDI engine is a V6, not an inline/I6, as have all MB sixes for about twenty years now.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Paul Niedermeyer :

    The 320 CDI engine is a V6, not an inline/I6, as have all MB sixes for about twenty years now.

    Actually that’s incorrect.

    Mercedes used a 3.2 liter inline six in cars like the W210 series E320 and R129 300SL/SL320 until 1997.

    And the Mercedes diesel in the American-market E300 diesel/turbodiesel also was an inline six until 1999.

  • avatar
    Schm

    Um, I’m pretty sure that the pre-facelift W211 CDIs have the I6 OM642 (I believe this is correct) I6′s. The post-facelift model has the OM642 V6, and Bluetec was implemented in 08, and the Urea system in 09. I hope this link works.

    06- http://carad.ebayimg.com/i16/03/a/000/79/ee/1fe0_4.JPG

    07-http://photos.ebizautos.com/used-2007-mercedes~benz-e~class-e320-8178-3882290-25-640.jpg

  • avatar

    @Paul:

    I was under the hood of the E320 quite a bit. Believe me, all the cylinders were in a line.

    The new Bluetec is a V6, I think.

  • avatar

    I’m with Shoemaker, my time with mi madre’s 2006 CDI has been pleasant enough. The chrome accented wood, roll top console lid, stitched console, padded everything in this car has fared better Jack’s tester…even for its age, its all standard fare for this genre. The only interior I have a beef with in this class/price is the Caddy STS.

    That said, just like most new cars, the seats are junk compared to the older iterations. And the puking tranny fluid on cold days (warranty item) really scared the heck outta me.

    Still its a good car. Won’t miss it when the lease runs out, and it needs a Sport and/or AMG package to really blow me away. But most E-class buyers probably love its ride/handling combination.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    “I’ve actually been casually searching for an old 300CD, the old 2-door version of the legendary W124, preferably a turbo-Diesel. I’d never consider an 90s Benz, Diesel or not.”
    This would be a W123 not a W124… the coupe didn’t get a diesel in the US.

    Justin Berkowitz :
    March 9th, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Paul Niedermeyer :

    The 320 CDI engine is a V6, not an inline/I6, as have all MB sixes for about twenty years now.

    Actually that’s incorrect.

    Mercedes used a 3.2 liter inline six in cars like the W210 series E320 and R129 300SL/SL320 until 1997.

    And the Mercedes diesel in the American-market E300 diesel/turbodiesel also was an inline six until 1999.

    You are both incorrect on this… the MY05-06 W211 E320 CDI is a inline 6 turbo-diesel. The MY 07-09 Bluetec is the new V6 turbo-diesel.

    I have driven both the 06 and 07 diesels, and neither was as well built as my W124 E300D was… but, they were both WAY quieter, got better fuel economy, and were WAY faster. If I had to choose I would probably want an 06 because I believe the engine is probably a bit more reliable based on the proven designs… but the conventional brake systems on the 07 and newer W211 are SO much better then the electronic versions in the 03-06 models.

    I have a friend that has an MY03 E500. It has been less than reliable… lots of trim, electronic, and Airmatic shock issues.

  • avatar
    JJ

    The new E is batshit UGLY btw.

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Reading the comments is very telling.

    “… not terrible…” and “… won’t miss it…” are the theme.

    Not Terrible is fine for a Kia. Not a $55,000 car that is supposed to represent the standard of the world. Shame on you, Benz.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    There was another issue I forgot to mention – there was rust on the car after 2.5 years and IIRC there were plenty of rust stories coming out of Germany – not as bad as the W210 but definitely not befitting a modern car. The saddest moment came when we went to pick up my dad’s Lexus GS450h – the replacement for the W211. I spent about 750 miles driving the Lexus, when we came to the departure airport and then switched to the W211 for the short remaining ride home. It was truly sad – like coming into a tractor. It idd not feel as horrible in isolation but when compared to the competitors it was just woefully inadequate. Similar but slightly different story with the BMW 535d and 550i that my old man tried before settling for the GS. Those were quite a lot of fun to drive, the 35d was miles ahead in the engine compartment when compared to the Merc but had seats even worse than the Benz and even those were sub par, coming from years in a Volvo.

    I guess there will be no MB products in our household for at least 10 years as a result of that experience. Possibly never.

  • avatar

    JJ sez:
    I hope someone at BMW will realize this before they have a fleet of 1/3/5GTs rolling around with crappy interiors.

    Clearly not. Look at the e46 and e90. Everyone complained about Bangle and the exteriors. The real crime took place when the very functional interior was cheapened and made a lot less functional. The cup holder off the dash is a botch, switchgear and vents all went downmarket, and the interior is just not as well assembled as the e46. Same for the 5 series.

    I worry that the e46 is the W123 of BMW

  • avatar

    @speedlaw You are absolutely right on with your comment. I owned an E46 325i and now have an E90 335i and the quality of the interior on the 335i neither offers the ergonomic “quality” nor the design quality of its predecessor. BMW has gone away from the driver-centric interior of earlier models to one which is very bland and frankly ugly with the addition of the i-Drive wart in the center of the stack. I share speedlaw’s concern that the E46 is the W123 of BMW, yet am encouraged that Chris Bangle has moved on to ruin someone else’s product.

    As to MB, with the sole exception of the CLS, their designers seem to be working hard to make each model more ugly than the corresponding model from BMW. It is tragic that the nose-heavy Audi models are now the shining stars of automotive design from Germany.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    Edgett,

    you are aware that the E46 was a Bangle design as well, right? And that the E90 was by von Hooydonk and not Bangle? :)

  • avatar

    Kristjan -

    Chris Bangle may have influenced the design of the E46, but the BMW board had not yet been given his koolaid suggesting that flame surfacing and childish cut lines were appropriate to a premium sports sedan. And I do worry about the fact that von Hooydonk is still lurking in the background, as he is a protoge of Bangle’s. Neither hold a candle to Henrik Fisker or Wilhelm Hofmeister.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    While I am by no means a fan of Bangle designs, I can see how the man brought a welcome dose of change to BMW, which at the time he arrived, suffered from Jaguar syndrome – endless minor variations on the same baic theme – the 1600 sedan.

    He did many things for which he needs to be lauded – such as more or less single handedly persuading the BMW management, and by extension that of all competing premium manufacturers that cupholders are a good idea. If you drive often and long distances, and use any German car (or that of most other non-US or primarily US focused manufacturers) you need to be grateful to the man. His acomplishment was pure genious and went along the lines of taking the BMW management to the newly opened US production facility (Spartanburg, IIRC). They were obviously chauffeured around in the then current 7 series and he made sure to provide all of them with drinks. Which they then prodeeded to hold in their hands for several hours, since there was no other place in the car to put them ;) A decision was made the same evening to equip all the future BMWs with cupholders.

    In my opinion he also cleaned up BMW interiors and for the first time made at least some of them appealing to me. I generally never consider BMWs (it seems to be hereditary), because the ergonomics never work for me – the seat either needs to be put all the way to he floor, or I bang my head against the ceiling, and to top it all off, all BMWs prior to his first 7 series have seats, which I find intensely uncomfortable.

    I agree the 3 series and 5 series are pretty tragic when it comes to interior appeal but in my opinion they are no worse than their predecessors, either. At least the current ones are no longer full of tiny butons, which are all the same and cannot be operated by touch alone, like in some other cars, where interior ergonomics receive a higher priority.

    I also feel the E65 7 series was the first competitor to the S-Class, which at least visually out-S-Classed it (I know it sounds horrible but bear with e). After the Schlachtschiff W140, which was widely criticised for its arogance MB made the successor a lot more timid. In many ways it made sense for BMW to demonstrate with the E65 that God is a Bavarian, or if you have it, flaunt it for the less Germanic ones amongst its customers. This potentially also explains the much higher success of the E65 in the Middle East, the US and Asia than any previous iteration of the car. It was likely better in tune with the times, as is the new one, at least compared to MB. It also seems to me to be much more of a spiritual successor of the Barickengel BMWs of early postwar years, than of the big BMWs after the E23.

    When it comes to Fisker, I very much like some of the Aston Martin work he did but find that the man only knows how to draw one single shape, and that’s it. Bangle, on the other hand seems much more creative, and versatile to me.

    On the other hand, I do tend to like manyof the down-Bangled cars much better, too, when compared to the ones, where he was given full reign :)

  • avatar

    Kristjan -

    So let’s raise a toast to Chris Bangle for doing to BMW what Lee Iacocca did for Chrysler in their first mini-vans. And I’ll agree with you on the Bangle “7″ series; it is a beautiful shape marred slightly by the trunk design, but it definitely had more “presence” than an equivalent S-class. I happen to disagree with respect to specifically the dashboard of later-model BMW’s when compared to their predecessors. The E24 6-Series, however was simply beautiful and very driver-centric.

    BMW’s obsession with the elimination of buttons is counter to what is being done with the cars; more complexity either equals more buttons, or some godawful mess like I-Drive with its multi-layered menus.

    Note that Fisker also did the Z8, surely one of the most beautifil BMW designs ever created…

  • avatar
    sparklesswonder

    Jack, I’m confused, you modified a second hand car that apparently, by your statement “there was more visible wear on the surfaces than there had been on my two-decade-old, 236,000-mile 190E.” had already run a hard first life, and then blame the brand for having the thing go into “limp mode home” after you beat on it? Obviously it was the car’s fault, for certain, you have convinced me of that.

    I’m also perplexed by your comparison of the cheap build quality of the E when you compare it directly to a 190 (not exactly the pillar of elegance and design to begin with, and those blue blooded Merc faithfuls you mention so lovingly, hated the damned thing ferociously for cheapening the marque), this alone causes me to wonder if your predetermined verdict of the E was already weighted against the rallying cry that all ‘modern’ Mercedes are crap so that you could excite the fanfare bash of the brand and have them all puppets upon your coattails in a celebratory circlejerk of armchair experts whom have never even owned a Merc. This sort of depravity is also known as the “Bangle” effect and causes for much chest beating and feces slinging. It is always sure to please a crowd.

    I’ve lived with diesel Mercs for most of my life and must say that the current E (the CDI in particular) is every bit a merc as the ones my family has kept in the past (aside from the orange dials and covered shift gate). If it worries you that this doesn’t feel as a $50kusd saloon should, I suggest you try feeling out the offerings by Nissan/Infiniti or BMW, I’m sure those high scale appointments should suffice your distinguished tastes, and iDrive would be a perfect match to you, not quite sorted out though still well smug with itself. As for your story, hell, I can’t even figure out if you won the damn race you were going on about. Is there another page to this article that I’m missing?

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    ANother comment on diesel Mercs – often being in Germany and using cabs a lot, one thing stands out. In the unlikely event that you get a W124, the interior still looks reasonable. The newer ones (the post facelift W211s being the worst) show plastic peeling off, the buttons for opening windows being worn down to practically transparent, etc. Sure, those are the cars that get the harshest treatment but it’s a shock to see that. VW is actually similar in that the new Tourans, which seem quite popular as cabs in some places, wear particularly badly. A positive surprise on the other hand were the Opel Zafiras – the plastics don’t feel as good as the VW items initially but seem to be much more durable.

  • avatar
    wsn

    Tummy :
    March 9th, 2009 at 8:12 am

    We have an 2004 E500 4Matic and none of the seat wobble you mentioned. There are some cheap plastic controls, especially the temp control, but nothing too terrible. It’s still way better than the interior in our Infiniti FX and Honda. Everything feels very solid. No problems with the car and it’s great for comfortable drives.

    The cost of an E500 4Matic is double that of an FX, and almost triple of Honda Accord.

    At that price range, try LS460 or Q45. When compared with those two, the MB E500 is not only cramped inside, but also a tad lower in refinement.

  • avatar
    davey49

    Kristjan Ambroz- you have the answer right there. Crappy feeling hard plastic is more durable than “soft touch” rubberized stuff.

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    Possibly :) Although not all of the earlier MB plastic was exactly crappy feeling and it proved to be much more durable than the plastic used these days.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Always happy to hear about Pat Metheny! Did you know that his dad owned a car dealership in Lee’s Summit. Pat’s first bands rehearsed in the service areas, inspiring the name of his early album, “American Garage.” Which is still the title of the online discussion forum at his site.

  • avatar
    dca

    Does anyone know, if the facelifted W211 adressed any shortcomings in the materials used inside the car?

  • avatar
    Kristjan Ambroz

    Well, judging from the state of the facelifted W211 cabs I use quite often while in Germany, I’d say no.

    And in spite of pinching Audi’s head of interior design some years ago, in this respect Mercedes still seems to have a long way to go…

  • avatar
    mr. black

    Mr. Baruth,
    Even after your scathing review, I still am considering the purchase of a 2005 E320 CDI. This is mainly due to the lack of diesel vehicles available for sale in the USA, and because prices are edging toward $20k. But, I will now have to do a very extensive test drive before I make a decision. I have one question, what other modifications were made to your CDI, other than the kleeman box? I see you have E500 wheels, did you lower the suspension and upgrade the brakes? Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond.

    Possible CDI buyer

  • avatar
    motorcaster

    Elitist comment about Mercedes are mostly made out of jealousy. They did the work and they have the goods… They are not always perfect but they get get damn close when you get a good one… I have a w 210 1998 e300 turbodiesel that has 375,000 on it and have not had a peep out of the transmission or the motor.. Yes it leaks a little oil but what do you expect.. It’s been crashed twice but it is still straight on reliable for 50,000 K per year and I think it will remain that way for some years to come as long as the oil and transmission are serviced properly… My eye is on the CDI as well.. I wish they had made more in the states… and there is a bunch of plastic in all cars… If you can buy them after the major depreciation that new buyers are willing to absorb you have a safe reliable car that will serve you well in the e class and above… in my humble opinion….. :)

  • avatar
    troutdreams

    I bought my 2005 E320 CDI with 4,100 miles from the dealer. Said it was a demo car (purchased it in 2005).
    I can say without the slightest bit of exaggeration it’s been the most defective/repair prone car I’ve ever owned. There’s just been too many problems to list, and they started almost immediately. But being a patient, optimistic (and yes foolish) person I’ve just had them repaired one by one over the years, thinking “this has to be the last one for a while”. And this now 7 year old car only has 50,800 miles on it. Right now one of the issues I’m dealing with are electrical. Had to take it to the dealer who couldn’t find the ghost but did notice the battery for my brakes (wtf?) were dead and that could be the cause for some of the mishaps such as reverse lights stuck on or the turn signals not working.
    And on top of these little quirks, my turbo doesn’t work when I need it (such as pulling out into traffic), the shifts between 1st and 2nd gear is about as smooth as a 16 year old learning to drive a manual, the keyless door locks work 5% of the time, etc… I have 1998 Ford Expedition with 285,000 miles that’s kept around for a two vehicle. It’s had maybe 1/8 of the problems this Benz has delivered.
    After driving a 2012 E320 loaner the dealership provided and noticing all the ridiculous little features that nobody needs, I kept thinking all this crap is going to break soon. Right now, what I want is a vehicle that works most of the time. No features. Just windows, head lights, maybe AC.


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