Lifetime Premium Member
Date registered: Mar 2013
Vehicle: 2008 ML320CDI 4Matic, 161K miles; 1983 380SL (die Rostlaube), 238K miles
Location: Fairmont, Minnesota, USA
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Quoted: 381 Post(s)
German car first impressions
After having the Mercedes for a couple of weeks, and a couple of other German loaners while it was in getting some work done, I have a few first impressions. Before I test-drove the E320, I'd never driven a German car, let alone owned one.
The Mercedes comes across as smooth and refined. There's plenty of power and handling there, but it's all aimed at hiding its capabilities from the casual observer. Want to pass someone on the highway? Step on it, you go faster. Tight curve? No sweat, just point the car into it, accelerate out of it. It does what you ask of it, no sturm und drang - for that matter, no sturm oder drang, either. This is the first car I've ever owned that I'd feel comfortable taking out onto the Autobahn. (And German friends tell me that it'd be fine in the left lane, even speed-limited at 125 MPH as all American Mercedeses are.)
The first loaner was a 2001 Audi A6 Quattro 2.8. It seems much more like a workman's car to the Mercedes's executive refinement. It gets the job done, but you know when you're asking it to work. Competent enough, but didn't feel all that special to me.
The other loaner was a 1997 BMW 740i. The impression it gave me was "the ultimate driving machine, and we're going to make damned sure you know it!". I have never before had acceleration bounce my head off the headrest, but stomping on the gas in this car did it: it downshifted once immediately, then the power came on, and right as the power truly hit, it downshifted again. That made for a hard shift and a surge of power like I've never felt before. Definitely a "wow" moment. The flip side of that is that everything about it seemed designed to say "look what a wonderful car this is to drive!". The one attribute that came as a real surprise was that the steering was quite heavy at any speed. Not enough to make you wonder if the power steering pump had quit, but heavier than any other car I've driven with it.
Of the three, I prefer the Mercedes approach, myself. Good thing that's what I bought.