ML320 BlueTec Blech: Healey Hates Daimler's Diesel

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
ml320 bluetec blech healey hates daimlers diesel

When USA Today carmudgeon James R. Healey pours hate on a vehicle, you just know it sucks. Healey’s evisceration of the oil-burning Bubba Benz ML320 BlueTec begins with a slam at the powerplant’s herky jerky acceleration, then mentions Merc’s obfuscation: “M-B, in fact, disputes about every gripe. The gripes are serious, so it’s appropriate to give them a word.” And that word is? California compliant. OK, so it’s two words, but at least it wasn’t the two I was expecting (fans of German management culture will know what I mean). Anyway, Healey lets rip in his own not-so-special way, chastising the diesel ML for mediocre mileage (19mpg), terrible ride (“surmounting a branch felt like a major dynamic event”), lagging brakes (“Push, push, push the brake pedal and just when you think something’s amiss, the brakes start to haul it down”), hard seats (“Not firm. Not stiff. Not you’ll-get-used-to-it Teutonic. Hard. Like a board, or slab of concrete”) and sub-par details (“climate control was too hot at 70 degrees, too chilly at 68”). Healey being Healey, the litany is followed by amorous amelioration. But not much. And not for long. “Fifty thousand bucks for an uncomfortable, not-so-classy machine that’s unpleasant and unsatisfying to drive. Wonder who signed off on that business plan?” Jimmy, are you saying that diesel dog won’t hunt? Uh-huh. “Overall: Nope.”

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  • RedStapler RedStapler on Nov 30, 2008

    +1 If they would offer a E-Class Wagon with AWD and the Diesel you would have plenty of interior room and snow capability without the fuel economy penalty. Of course not so much in the case of Mercedes, but with all the other SUV makers they would rather sell you an SUV for $10k more than an AWD wagon. I'm convinced that Toyota kept the production low on the AWD Matrix and never offered an AWD Corolla for just this reason.

  • Mirko Reinhardt Mirko Reinhardt on Nov 30, 2008

    @RedStapler : If they would offer a E-Class Wagon with AWD and the Diesel Wait, they don't? In Europe, you can get both 6-cylinder diesels in the E-Class wagon with 4matic.

  • Safe as milk Safe as milk on Nov 30, 2008
    Paul Niedermeyer : In Europe, diesel is taxed lower than gas; that explains some of the difference. Also, fuel is taxed so heavily in Europe, the actual difference of the wholesale commodity prices are largely masked. A few days ago, the global commodity (untaxed) price of unleaded was $1.08, diesel $1.87. There is a greater global imbalance of supply and demand with diesel. paul - don't forget that us diesel prices tend to go up in the winter because the home heating oil adds to the demand on diesel refining capacity.

  • Chuckgoolsbee Chuckgoolsbee on Nov 30, 2008

    Prices of commodities are variable over time given market conditions, taxation, supply, demand, etc. I can recall times when Diesel fuel was less than half the price of gasoline. Out in my barn where I make my own Diesel, it still is less than half the price of gasoline. People bought heavy trucks for commuting duty (and occasional weekend towing) pre-Iraq/Katrina when gasoline was cheap. Now they look like idiots. Diesel is expensive in the US now due to ULSD conversion, seasonal demand, etc... yet every time a Diesel vehicle is mentioned on TTAC everyone jumps on the current prices in the US and declares Diesel dead. I just drove home to NW Washington from central Oregon in a Jeep Liberty CRD, stuffed with 4 adults and 1 kid, all their luggage, and did that ~350 miles on half a tank of Diesel... ~29 MPG. The trip down was on home-brew, so it was almost free. How many gas-powered SUV's can pull off that trick? Answer: None. --chuck