Interesting post -- if this paper comes to life I would certainly like to read it
Here is my personal opinion on Benz:
I personally have a high opinion of Benz for a lot of historical reasons, stemming back to the fact that they were the first German auto manufacturer and the legacy that they have put forth. They have always been a symbol of class and German engineering in my mind.
The symbol and car is internationally recognized immediately and many of the cars are timeless. Most people who aren't that familiar with Benz have a reaction even when they see a modest car that is a few years old.
However, there is a marked difference in the way these cars are made today and the way they used to be made. Take for instance my two cars -- my 300SD is a Panzer. The thing is a tank that rides smooth as hell, total minimal mechanical problems, parts built tough as hell, 250,000 miles on it.
My CLK320 has nowhere near the sturdiness, part life on average is less, maintenence costly and frequent, lots to know -- if I didn't work on my car and didn't want to learn as much as I could about it, I would never own this car. It takes a lot of money to pay professionals who charge exhorbant rates for their services. Parts are expensive on their own even.
Still there is something to be said about the comfort of the car and the doors still feel the way a car door should feel - unlike an Infinity that feels plastic and barely 5 lbs.
In terms of performance, I think the cars are generally fast enough - which is what I consider necessary for a car. However, I ride motorcycles - this means that I do not experience what you call "fast" in a car. Any car. And I have had a lot of people try to impress me and test that. It is simply not fun for me to drive fast in a cage - if you spend enough time on a bike, you will feel the same.
All in all Benz is about style, and sex appeal. It is the only car I really find attractive. I am not a big auto enthusiast at all. I see a bike and I find it very sexy - a car is a nice comfortable portable stereo, but sexualism is a stretch. I am of course in the minority here.
I'll keep up with this thread, and maybe I can develop more of my nonsense