Last post on Nov 10, 2009 at 6:48 PM
You are in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class
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Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Car Safety, Sedan
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#4888 of 7297 Mercedes Image/maintenance costs
Oct 23, 2001 (5:29 pm)
There is one simple difference between MB (and I'll admit, BMW/Audi...) and Lexus/Lexus wanna-bees: German cars are engineered from the ground up. The Japanese focus on churning out good cars at low cost by sharing platforms and other key components (or is there a Lexus factory somewhere that I don't know about?). Every class of German car is designed and built with a certain vision as to its performance and driving characteristics - and of course, cutting-edge safety/durability. Look at a 15-year old Lexus and a 15-year old MB, and you'll see which one isn't just a bunch of pretty sheet metal hung on a multi-purpose frame.
The C-Class is built outside Stuttgart and Bremen (I've seen them being made). There are apparently some being built in Brazil and S. Africa as well - just don't buy them. I can't believe that anyone is taking MB owners to task for buying a car 'for the name', considering that the 'luxury' Japanese brands were invented only as marketing tools for competing against the likes of MB outside Japan.
And as the former owner of a 1997 C230, I can say that I spent less on maintaining my MB ($300/year) than I did on my 1997 Subaru during the same period. So far, same luck with my 240, but I also know to keep my expectations realistic and understand that there is no such thing as the perfect car.
#4889 of 7297 Mercedes Image/maintenance costs by spndx
Oct 23, 2001 (6:59 pm)
While you toss in quite a few catch phrases (e.g., built from ground up) I don't think you are facing the reality of the automotive world. Can you honestly look at the C class and tell me it was built from the ground up when, in reality it shares so much of its engineering and design with the S.
It does not make sense in today's manufacturing techniques to design every model from scratch. Maybe in the past, this was done, but now even MB is facing this reality if they are to compete.
"Every class of German car is designed and built with a certain vision as to its performance and driving characteristics - and of course, cutting-edge safety/durability" Is this your original thought or have you been raised from birth by MB marketing reps. Lets face it, all modern manufacturers have a "vision" of the product. They consider market, cost, volume, etc. MB knows safety sells and they put R&D money into it. I am glad because then Lexus benefits from that, builds it into their cars, and does a better quality job "Churning them out" as you say. (I suppose all the MB factories - even Brazil & South Africa produce each C by hand with loving care? (No the C is shipped as a kit in a box to Brazil to be put together there). And, as to safety, I believe if you look at the crash test results Lexus does a fine job. What about the problems MB had with the (I believe) A class rolling over. I admit MB did a quality job of fixing this problem but it shows MB is not as perfect as your posts seem to imply.
There are more than "some" C being built outside Germany and the number is growing. (Go back and read the posts in this board as proof). If as you say "every class of German car is designed and built..." why would you suggest not buying one built in Brazil? Is this admitting that maybe, just maybe, MB production techniques might not be as perfect as your statement implies they are or does Brazil "churn out " cars?
You are correct that Lexus was marketing when it started (I stress was). Again, can you quote many independent surveys in the last few years showing MB Quality. The most recent that I am aware of has Lexus on top and MB in tenth position. So it may have started with marketing but my point is that they are delivering with the product. I can't help but feel MB is living on its past reputation and it is starting to show signs of wear.
And why keep repeating this thing about Lexus not being an individual car company like MB? I think the point is obvious (just like Ford and Jaguar) that it is just a matter of time before MB and Chrysler are doing the same thing (then you won't have any justification for spending more money for a car built with leas quality. MB may still be a great car but after my experience this year with both MB and Lexus there is no comparison. Lexus is a cheaper car (I can live with this). It is also a better built car (this is a fact I base on all quality surveys, personal experience and reading every single post on the C class after I put my deposit down).
I like MB cars. I fully expect to give the new E a serious consideration when it arrives. But, up until five months ago I simply assumed MB was a better car and a step up from Lexus. After my experience with the MB organization, a particular MB dealer, and the C class production and mechanical problems I will not just assume MB's superiority any longer. They have some serious problems relative to Lexus and the loss in market share is showing this.
As this is really an MB board, and you have all been very understanding letting me spout my Lexus perspective. I just can't help but feel MB needs to hear that MB owners know that the competition is getting pretty good and that maybe MB should be doing a better job.
#4890 of 7297 Interesting last few posts...MB's situation.
Oct 23, 2001 (10:25 pm)
It's a fact that Mercedes-Benz cars aren't what they used to be. I believe the main problem is their German production base. It simply costs more to build a car in Germany than anywhere else. Mercedes has cut costs and they still cost more, often thousands than the competition. So I'm not really seeing the benifit of their cost cutting on the S and new C Class cars when it comes to the "sticker price". I do see the downside when it comes to the structural integrity, and quality of materials, especially in the S and C Class cars. These were the two areas where Mercedes excelled over all else. Even GM admitted that Mercedes (300E) was the car to beat in solidity at the time. Lexus does benifit from being able to share costs across the board with their cars. Everytime someone buys a Corolla it benifits Lexus' cars in the long-run. No doubt. Mercedes doesn't have that luxury.
Now people say what about Chrysler. Well Mercedes and Chrysler have nothing to do with each other yet than being on paper under the same parent company so that point isn't valid. There isn't a Chrysler that shares Mercedes parts or a platform...yet. Mercedes made a decision after the 1992 S-Class wasn't recieved well all around the world. Certain members of the board wanted Mercedes to keep making the best car they could and let the price be dammed, but after the new over-the-top S didn't fly others wanted a change in policy. A much broader product range, and more importantly more competitive sticker prices and even more importantly...MORE SALES. Mercedes struggled to sell 60K car in 1993 here, last year they did over 200K. Quite a jump in 8 years. I personally would have like to have seen Mercedes just build the best car possible with just a little more reguard to price (i.e. cut out *some* of the over-the-top stuff)...but not building to a specific "price" as they are done today. For anyone not familiar with Mercedes there is an easy way to see the difference between these newer Benzes and an old-school Mercedes. Check out the current SL and a C or S Class on the dealer floor. There is quite a difference there. It pains me that Mercedes seems to be giving up what it did best. I'm waiting on the verdict of the new SL's build. If Mercedes compromises their most precious car like the rest, I don't know what else to say other than that they must not see a problem. Or they don't want to see it.
Another point. Mercedes for years had the first this and the first that. Safety, fuel injection, diesel technology, etc. However the competition has so diligently studied Mercedes' cars to the point where they've all caught up in most areas, but I still maintain that nobody has caught up in every area...not yet. So it's kinda up to Mercedes to re-invent themselves and whole "motorcar" theme so they can get back that luster they've had for so long. They still have that "feel" when driving them and I still think they lead the world in safety when it comes to real-world crashes, with only Volvo being on the same page. Crash test aren't *always* indicative of some of the freak accidents that can happen on your local interstate. Mercedes still strives to exceed governement crash regulations be leaps and bounds. Mercedes still tests their cars in more situations than anyone other than Volvo. A few years ago I got a chance to view a tape at the autoshow in the Mercedes VIP room. Some of crashes the new C-Class (at the time 1994) was put through would have broken other cars in half. I also want to mention Saab is also a safety leader too. Their testing regimen is downright wierd, but seemingly effective.
Mercedes' competition is right there with them, either they're realize this and take action or they'll be like others that have fallen from grace. Hopefully they'll wake up soon.
Oct 24, 2001 (6:18 am)
Interesting discussion. ....I think the $2500/year maintanence costs were quoted from me and I was refering to the last E-class I owned for the 3 years (30K-75K miles) prior to me selling it. In those 3 years I replaced the head gasket, front struts, rear shocks, all 4 brake discs, radiator and water pump, some electrical components, .... I know there's more, but it's like having a child. You forget the unplesent stuff or you'd never have a second. Our first MB was the "pre- C-class 190E. We averaged $1000 a year keeping it on the road. These numbers include scheduled and unscheduled maintanence. Currently the only MB we have is an older SL my wife uses as a daily driver. Suprising that after we restored it (for about $13K) it has been pretty much trouble free for 2 years. But we did spend about $6K on mechanical work 2 years ago to bring it back.
To keep my comments in perspective, the only really negative thing I have to say about MB is the reliability/maintanence issue. I love the cars, the way they handle, the feel of the ride, most of the various styles. I think the current E and the upcoming 2003 E-class are simply works of art. If money were no object, perhaps I wouldn't mind so much. But I just don't think any car, especially ones selling for $35-60K (for the C and E class) should require so much maintanence, especially when some manufactures can make a damn near bullet-proof car for $12K. ......Still, when I see someone drive past me in their E, I sometimes sigh to myself and think I may be back yet again.
#4892 of 7297 Shades of things to come???
Oct 24, 2001 (9:04 am)
This morning during my run, I cut through the MBUSA parking lot and saw a few "Euro-Spec" cars they have over here for evaluation. I have no idea if any are going to actually be imported for sale, never the less, here is a list of what I saw:
C270 TDI - This car looked like a fully contented C320 with what apparently is a 2.7-liter “Turbo Direct Injection” diesel engine. Sounds interesting.
E240 - Which by looking closely at it, seemed to be a slightly de-contented E320. By that I mean such things as the seat coverings being cloth instead of leather, no moon roof and so on.
Several Smart cars in various color combinations.
While I suspect that the first two would find a certain audience here in the U.S., I cannot understand the appeal of the Smart car.
Oct 24, 2001 (10:04 am)
Interesting discussion going on. One thing I havent seen mentioned here is the customer service the MB vs Lexus dealerships provide. I purchased a '00 E Class for my parents. Part of the wood grain was scratched at service A and the dealership agreed that it was their fault and they would replace it. That was over 8 months ago and after a dozen calls, their attitude is just as arrogant and careless as ever. They keep telling us the part will be here next wk, and have repeatedly not returned our calls.
Would you believe this dealership kept the car for 9 days for service A (mainly an oil change and no loaner was provided). The reason they kept it because they ordered the wrong color woodgrain part. But NO ONE from the dealership bothered to call us to let us know that and inform us to pick up the car.
I hope my experience with MB is unique and most dealers are better than this. Do I like the car? Yes. But I will NEVER again buy a MB product. In fact I have discouraged several people from buying it and instead go for Lexus. Go to the Lexus board and u get the impression they are extremely well treated. It is no surprise that Lexus is adhead in customer satisfaction and is surpassing MB sales. In 25 years of buying cars, MB service has been the absolute worst, and the only time in my life that I am writing to a company management with a complaint letter.
Oct 24, 2001 (11:19 am)
I've been away for a few days and just wanted to comment on a few things...
sddlw -- Last week you asked why I join in this board if I don't want to own a Mercedes right now. Well, I do get curious about "premium" cars and like to know what motivates people to buy. That's all. I don't intend to say anything bad about Mercedes since I like their cars, I just don't want one right now (I've ordered a new 2002 ES 300). Does that make sense?
ghays -- You mentioned how Mercedes are so much safer than Lexus models. I was in a Mercedes dealership about two years ago (a friend was looking at an E320), and the salesman kept raving how the car was so much safer than the GS 300. He happened to have the latest AutoWeek magazine on his desk, which I subscribe to. I told him to check the issue, because in it the government rated the GS a higher safety rating than the E.
Also, doesn't reliability = safety? My girlfriend's VW Passat died once on the highway at 60 mph for no reason and without warning. Then, after being fixed, it did it again on a local street. The fact that Lexuses are so reliable is in itself a safety feature.
spndx -- As for German cars being designed from the ground up, you'll find an awful lot of similar parts and features in an Audi as a VW. No different than Lexus/Toyota, Lincoln/Jaguar, etc. That's the way the automotive economy works and how it helps make manufacturers make better cars cheaper. Haven't Chrysler and Mercedes already said they will share certain parts and platforms in the future (when a new line of RWD Chryslers will be coming out)?
I know this doesn't all relate to the C-Class, but I do love hearing what people think of all these cars. There are no right or wrong opinions and that's what makes the car world fun.
Oct 24, 2001 (11:25 am)
Name that dealership, please. If it's in the DC area, I want to make sure I avoid it. Thanks.
#4896 of 7297 Not for US sale...
Oct 24, 2001 (11:51 am)
...if you lined up all of the engine and drivetrain combinations available to the rest of the world, but not to us, you could fill the parking lot with nothing else.
Yes, both the E and C are available with a range of common-rail turbo diesels that are simply marvelous, and simply unavailable to us as long as the US govt refuses to put the shoulder to Big Oil to force them to get the excess sulfur out of our motor fuel. What goes into diesel fuel tanks in this country is, if you'll pardon the word, crap...it is illegal in the EU. There are endless proposals on the table to get the level of sulfur down to where it is now [and has been for some time] in Europe, but the oil companies whine and complain and nothing substantive happens. Until it does, the diesel revolution that is under way in Europe will pass us by; these cars are fast, quiet, clean, and 30-50% more economical...but everyone thinks Americans are anti-diesel and don't care. We might start caring if another oil boycott breaks out...
I doubt we'll see anything like the current Smart here, but they have already done everything but actually commit to bringing us the next version of the A-Class, when it is redesigned in '04. The current A is a nice package, but flawed by the suspension compromises they had to jury-rig in order to take care of the moose-avoidance scandal. The result was a rocky ride and general lack of refinement that would not fly here with an MB badge - the new one should fix that problem. The latest iteration, the long-wheelbase A, actually comes pretty close to fulfilling the promise of the original design, but now they want to wait for the new car, which is probably wise.
Anyway, the list of what the rest of the world can buy from MB, that we cannot, be it engine combinations or interior treatments, is so long as to be mind-boggling. Part of this is to make sure that the carefully crafted "brand image" that has been debated here is not "tarnished"...why a cloth seat option in an E-Class would "tarnish" the brand is a question I can't answer, but it's an example of the way they think in Montvale.
Oct 24, 2001 (12:08 pm)
Actually, oil companies are working on *zero emissions* diesel. One of the folks on the M-Class mailing list works in the industry and he's shown me a few articles on it; it's actually pretty cheap to make. You just don't hear much about it in the media because they like bashing oil companies...