Date registered: Mar 2003
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Its not quite all Mercedes fault. People do not want an over-engineered car, anymore. They want a car packed with the most technology possible that can last for say, 5 - 10 years. After that, it can go to the boneyard. In fact, I don't blame Mercedes at all. The consumer demand I DO blame.
There is no comparison in any Mercedes made today to previous models. That's just not a fair comparison. Even the 221 is a piece of junk after time takes its toll. For instance, the dashboard is fully electronic, so if one bulb goes the entire unit is trash.
The transmission, 7-Gtronic (722.9x), is impossible to check the fluid level easily on since there is not just the lack of a dipstick, but also no dipstick tube to insert one into! There is also no TC drain plug.
No 5th alloy spare. Just tire goo.
No oil dipsticks, that is all read through the onboard computer.
No oil pressure gauge.
Its quite simple, these cars were not built to last. At least, not in the way a W115 220D would.
Combine all this with poor paint quality (orange peel), water based paint is quite susceptible to chipping (even nano-based paint). You can blame the EPA for this, and other material appearance issues.
The Maybach is likely the closest you'll come to the older S-Class in this respect.
I've owned and driven countless MB's new and old. I've seen and experienced them all. This Mercedes quality debate was brought about as early as 2002, and I was constantly flamed for disagreeing with Mercedes being of much higher quality in the past. Bringing their reputation back online for the 2003 MY with the 211. I was right, they were wrong. History repeats itself.
Currently Mercedes IS alluding to ridding themselves of Chrysler. When questioned directly on this issue DCX left it at "All Options are Open".
Zetsche has a lot on his plate. I hope he and Mercedes do well. Mercedes will never be what it once was. There is no demand for that type of car, anymore. And the EPA has put a crimp on manufacturing processes already.