Nothing makes driving such an experience as a Mercedes. I've tried Beemers, Audis (which are better than Beemers) and one Porsche (which was a lemon unfortunately) but for the overall package of comfort, performance, style / looks, and kudos, nothing beats the three-pointed star. I hasten to add that not all Mercs fit this bill and they're not all trouble free (show me an automobile that is) but you couldn't part me from my CL, the ultimate machine. My 190E is the most enjoyable car project I've ever worked on (the car is like a tank, but in a friendly, approachable sort of way), and my SL makes the summers worth waiting for. My problem is that I don't sell cars I like, consequently the driveway ends up pretty busy!!!
In the UK we are fortunate in having other luxury car makers such as Aston Martin, Lotus and TVR, but while they all excel in certain areas, none offers the complete package in the way that a Mercedes-Benz does.
Japanese cars are gaining popularity in the UK, but it's primarily for reasons of reliability and certainly not looks (although Lexus do produce some attractive vehicles). MB need to work on their reliability.
It's a personal taste thing obviously. Most drivers aspire to a quality car at some point in their "careers" - and everybody has their own idea of what constitutes that car for them. All I will say however is - you can have the keys to my Benzes when you pry 'em from my cold, dead hands...
2002 (C215) CL500 (Batmobile), Obsidian Black, 60k miles
2000 (S210) E320 Wagon, Alexandrite Green, 140k miles
1990 (C126) 420 SEC (Bruce), Astral Silver, 112k miles
1978 (R107) 350 SL (Boabby), Signal Red w/ silver hardtop, 115k miles
2004 (W209) CLK270 CDI, 32k miles
2000 (W210) E240, 70k miles
1997 (C140) CL500, 134k miles
1991 (W201) 190E 2.6 Sportline, 133k miles