Last post on May 11, 2010 at 11:16 AM
You are in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class
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Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Sedan
#6085 of 6720 Re: love/hate [bigrobnh]
Feb 03, 2005 (2:09 pm)
Sorry about your problems BigRob. If I still worked for the MB-North America-CAC (Customer Assurance Center), which I left at the end of 1996, I would be able to walk over and give your message to someone that could do something about it. Unfortunately, the cast of characters there has changed so much that I don't know anybody who still works there.
Having said all of that, I doubt that it would have done any good anyway. I have periodically ranted about the attitude of upper management at MB-USA, whereby they believe that they know better than their customers what those customers need, want and desire. I find that just a tad arrogant. The best story surrounds the launch of the SLK; MB-USA wanted to make damn sure that it went off well, so they did all of their customer research and came to the conclusion (among many others) that the car should only be offered with an automatic transmission only (as usual).
At that point I was doing the alternating month thing, working one month in Montvale, and the next in Stuttgart, so I had a chance to drive a pre-production SLK with a 5-Speed transmission while in Germany. I liked it. When I got back to Montvale, I was looking over one of the cars that was to be used for the PR launch (more on that in a moment), and happened to comment, out loud to no one in particular, "Gee, it's too bad us Americans can't get a 5-Speed." I didn't realize the VP of the CAC was standing behind me apparently quite smug in his belief that I would be drooling all over "his" car. When he heard my comment he got quite angry and started shouting at me, "What the hell are you talking about? We spent millions to determine what options to offer on this car (I suspect that was an exaggeration, then again, maybe not), and the fact of the matter is, Mercedes customers don't drive sticks. Period. Besides, only an idiot would want to drive a car like this with a manual."
Being a bit of a hot head myself, my response was kind of predictable, "Well then I guess I'm and idiot." He gave me a very nasty look and stormed off. I found out later that he had put the word out that my contract was not to be renewed at the end of the year. Oh well.
Anyway, the designated Saturday for the big PR event for the SLK was a couple of days after our little exchange. The intention was to hold it outside so that there would be lots of photo-ops of the old SLs, their owners, and of course their big smiles when being shown the new SLK. Best laid plans of mice and men and all of that, it rained, big time. So, since all of the participants (both people and cars) were already there (some from great distance), the event was held inside the shop at the CAC. My in-town "office" was a loft above the main shop floor (where I got to see lots of cool stuff) and that gave me a birds-eye view of the proceedings. Long story short, almost every one of the old SLs were equipped with three pedals (all of them?), and to put it mildly, the owner group was less than enthused about the new automatic only SLK. During the Q&A, the previously mentioned VP was asked repeatedly about the "research" that led MB to think that the manual transmission was not desirable in the SLK. Sitting in my perch watching him grow more and more uncomfortable, all I could do was bite my lower lip to keep from laughing out loud. I lasted just the remainder of the year there, rumor has it that he didn't last much longer. Oh, and the SLK is now offered with a manual transmission.
#6086 of 6720 to anyone thinking of an E-Class
Feb 03, 2005 (2:57 pm)
my '98 e320 4matic has 218k miles. Typical maintenance issues, mostly minor. Larger ones were catalytic converter and ball joint. The car is still as solid as day one and I wouldn't hesitate to take it cross country. I expect to have it another 200k miles.
I recently needed to replace my wife's car (A totaled x-type). Lots of options, but she chose the e500 4matic. The worst thing about it was we already had one - no fun without some diversity. (Although I did try to talk her into a used Porsche. No deal.)
Her e500 was cheaper than two G35x's, which I would have needed by the time she has the mileage I have. If you can afford the price and the boredom of driving a car for 250k+ miles, the german taxi is actually an inexpensive car.
Feb 04, 2005 (5:54 am)
That is one of the more interesting stories I've ever read on Edmunds. I wonder if the managment at these German companies will ever realize that if they were a little more open minded about things they'd really sell a lot of cars.
From the reviews I've read about the SLK there must be a different team in place because not only does it have a manual trans, its a very good one at that. Even the fickle as hell British press loves the new SLK and its manual transmission. Now if MBUSA could just hit similar home runs with the products devoted to this market like the new ML and soon-to-be R-Class, they'd be on to something. Pre-1990 this arrogance tolerable and even arguably great for the company because they produced cars that matched the arrogance, unrivaled by anyone. There is no way they'll make it with such arrogance now because they cars don't and won't support it. Even Ferrari has had to come down off its perch and actually compete with former market losers like Aston-Martin and Lamborghini.
It seems Mercedes in general has learned their lessons about incorrect specifications and shoddy build quality if the new SLK and CLS are any indication. I still don't think that MBUSA and VWoA espcially has the full attention of their top management back in Germany
#6088 of 6720 Re: shipo [merc1]
Feb 04, 2005 (7:18 am)
I have a few other juicy ones that I've posted here from time to time. My stint with Mercedes was both a lot of fun and very frustrating. I am a systems developer by trade and a car nut by hobby, as such I was really into the car aspect of working at MBNA (as they called it back then, prior to a little spat with the bank of the same initials). The wierd thing (for me anyway) was the number of people who worked there who could care less about cars in general and Mercedes-Benz cars in particular, they were only there for the job. Grrrr! I am happy to report that the folks I worked with in Stuttgart were quite the opposite, they LOVED their cars.
Feb 05, 2005 (7:03 am)
Thanks for the uplifting story. As I said, I have no idea what Mercedes could do to fix the situation (other than close the dealership in Manchester and open a new one in Nashua).
It looks like there are an expanding number of choices to replace my 4matic when I can't take it anymore. M35x, GS300x, RL. There's always the A6 and I think I read the 5 series is coming in AWD. I don't trust the former and I don't like the appearance of the latter. You can even look at 300c and a Ford 500 (well, not really). There are quite a few choices in the mid sized AWD sedan category now.
I'm leaning toward the M35x and the RL, primarily because the dealers are local. I'd like the GS but that is also a Manchester dealership and involves the 50+ mile round trip. On top of that the GS does not have the 11K-12K mile service interval of the E320. That is the ONLY thing that has maintained my sanity.
Feb 05, 2005 (11:26 am)
Lastbenz, what an unfortunate story. If I had the same experience as you have, I would run and never look back.
Fortunately, both my E-class and ML-class have been really good. There have been more issues with the ML but both have performed superbly.
Shipo, what a wonderful story. I must have missed your previous ones as I didn't remember you working for MBNA. Keep the stories coming, they are very interesting!
I most likely trade the ML in this fall and might go with the new ML but it now does not offer a third seat. I might have to move up to the R-class suv. The Land Rover LR3 is another strong possiblity. If Lexus would update the LX430, that would be a strong contender.
Have a great day, Mark156
#6092 of 6720 Talk to the Press
Feb 10, 2005 (10:33 am)
A reporter would like to interview someone who recently bought a large sedan such as a Mercedes E-Class, Lexus LS 430, Mercury Crown Victoria or any large Cadillac or Lincoln.
Please send your daytime contact info to jfallonedmunds.com by Friday, February 11, 2005.
#6093 of 6720 Re: Used 30mi E320 or brand new Honda Accord [r1_97]
Feb 10, 2005 (3:03 pm)
Forgive this late reply to your commentary, but I am one of those God forsaken who gambled on MB being "bullet-proof" and indeed have transmission problems out of warranty with a '94 E320 sedan (~128k miles).
I loved the car when I saw it 2 yrs ago, and followed that lust in replacing an '89 E300 with ~180k miles.
I am soooo upset with Mercedes Benz for not building the tank I had expected this car to be. It was too much of a gamble at 46 and kids approaching college years.
SO, I leased a 2004 Honda Accord coupe as a low cost alternative to my E320 in July 2004. I cannot come to terms to even sell my E... it is still sitting in my drive way 7 months later! Its in working order only no reverse gear. I'm afraid to find out that I might only net ~$4000... a damn paralyzing experience.
Any suggestions of insights would be appreciated.
#6094 of 6720 Re: Used 30mi E320 or brand new Honda Accord [kenevans11]
Feb 15, 2005 (8:50 am)
No problen with late reply as I just returned here myself due to a hard drive (computer - not car) crash.
As for suggestions: Save your love,lust and other emotions for humans, not cars. A car without a reverse gear is NOT in working order. Think of your '94E as an beautiful, sexy but expensive mistress. Pay for your pleasure or get rid of it.