Last post on Jul 24, 2012 at 9:07 AM
You are in the Mercedes-Benz SL/SLK-Class
What is this discussion about?
Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Convertible
Mar 07, 2002 (10:29 am)
Mercedes leads, Lexus follows, it's always been that way it seems. Just line 'em up from 1990-2002, model to model, and you'll see who is following who. Lexus was BORN as a Mercedes clone (and a darn good one, too!) This is not to deny Lexus innovation of its own, nor its own deserved good reputation, but they have always dogged Mercedes, because they know where the blue chips are. Benz is the star, Lexus the understudy who hopes the star breaks her leg some night. (And she may, she may).
While I am tempted to beat every SC430 I see with a baseball bat, I have to say that it is one of the FIRST cars from Lexus that attempts to step out and take charge in styling and concept. For that I give them a thumbs up. Now try again.
#25 of 786 More M.B. Cost Cutting
Mar 07, 2002 (10:39 am)
The CLK may look good on the outside but the inside is pure ,downmarket, cheap looking materials and plastics a step above Chrysler junk especially in dull grey. The SC blows it away in materials and richness, fit/finish is tighter no doubt. Typical Lexus high quality.
The new SL500 continues this trend with cheap looking details a big no no in this price car. Center console doesn't even have leather console lining like the SC or the rich brushed metal HVAC stereo surround. Audi still has much nicer interiors than these new benzes of today. This all new car still uses an old SOHC engine design.
For this price give me an NSX anyday handbuilt, super high quality, much rarier bargain priced exotic. Mercedes also copies Lexus details as in the door hinges of the big CL Coupe are straight off the old SC coupes. One hellva durable design for a door hinge though. Don't think M.B. doesn't study Lexus as did Lexus M.B. for 8 years developing the 1st LS. Lexus also pioneered multiplex wiring which is the most reliable design in electrical systems.
Lexus will hit M.B. again with a big V-12 ultra sedan in a few years and all new high perforance models of the GS sedans with 4wd. The boys in Tokyo want to be number 1 and the boys in Stuttgart will surely feel the heat.
Mar 07, 2002 (11:41 am)
To really appreciate a Mercedes you need to saw it in half. No, I mean that seriously. So much about that car is not seen by the observer. Even if the Benz doesn't have the "brushed metal" stereo surround or the 1960s Chris Crafty wood trim, you can be sure Mercedes put the money in the chassis or in some facet of engineering that you will never see in a million miles of driving.
German cars have never been about obstentation. They are all business, sometimes even humorless in their obsession with function over form.
The history of both Lexus and Mercedes as we know them today actually goes back to Cadillac, of all places. Cadillac, in the 1950s, showed the world that one could mass-produce a quality car in enormous numbers. Mercedes took a hard look at this and basically blew Cadillac out of the luxury market. Then in 1990 Toyota took a hard look at Mercedes and made a brilliant transition into the luxury car market itself. I'm sure that the LS400 was not wanted German car makers wanted to see!
But that doesn't mean that either Cadillac or Lexus IS, therefore, a Mercedes. In some ways, either car can excel a Benz in certain areas, no doubt about it. GM and Lexus engineers are not stupid people.
But overall, in all the details, the Benz is still "engineered like no other car in the world" and no amount of pretty little details or avant garde styling is going to dethrone them.
Mercedes reputation is at the end of the wrench, not in the marketing department. The company still delivers on its promises, even if the days of silver-plated trim and rosewood tea tables are over for all automakers competing in mass-produced markets.
Mar 07, 2002 (12:27 pm)
"This all new car still uses an old SOHC engine design"
I think I know the one you mean. It uses three valves per cylinder, two spark plugs per cylinder and a magnesium intake manifold with two stage ressonance. Sounds like a pretty outdated design to me (right!).
I also like your thoughts on "rich brushed metal". You mean the stuff on the dash of my old '77 Trans Am, right? That is much richer than real wood.
Keep dreaming, MB remains the standard of the world.
Mar 07, 2002 (1:31 pm)
Just a FYI - ALL car companies study other car companies. It is endemic in the industry and the company that thinks it can develop top-of-class products on their own is usually the first to stumble. And while there will always be style, value or feature leaders and followers, everyone gets to the finish line in their own way, and innovates along the way. Hence you have Mercedes building some of amazing suspension mechanicals that Lexus could only dream about, and Lexus producing cars with gap tolerances that Mercedes is a decade away from duplicating. Each company innovates, all have their unique strengths, and innovation never, ever stops at body shell design or window sticker feature list.
I just wanted to inject this into the "so-and-so innovates and so-and-so clearly just copies" discussion.
Mar 07, 2002 (2:30 pm)
The historical record is there for all to see nonetheless. I'd be interested to know what distinct and readily identifiable engineering or styling feature Mercedes copied from Lexus. I can't think of any, but I don't know everything, so point it out please, year and model would be helpful.
PS: Nobody really has to do this. It's rhetorical. I'm just making the point that it would be hard to think of anything, whereas with Benz being copied the list is pretty long. Right off, I can think of the "little armchair" electric seat adjuster (law suits flew on that one) , the multilink rear suspension, the grillework, the trunk lid (just about everybody got that one!), the use of ohc V8s in luxury 4-doors, the "look" of the interior/console area, the middle sun visor (recent Audi rip-off of Benz idea) , the entire S series concept (which is what the first Lexi and Infinitis were).
I'm sure there's tons more. Even the ABS and ESP stability systems you find on many cars (their own versions) today were premeried on Mercedes-Benzes (1978 and 1995). ABS comes from the German "antiblockiersystem."
Mar 07, 2002 (2:44 pm)
Well, to fair, I remember the release of the LS, GS and SC fairly well, although I'm sure you remember them better, Shifty. I think anyone'd have to be blind to suggest that the LS wasn't, and isn't, a blatant attempt at copying Mercedes, but I never saw a real Mercedes connection with the GS or the original SC, which is why I found both of those very appealing on their own merits.
I'm not suggesting that they aren't using MB (and now BMW) as a benchmark, but at least those two examples had seemingly independent style.
As far as technical innovation goes, this not now, nor has it ever been a key to Japanese success. Refinement of other's technologies and the processes by which they are utilized, has been the MO.
Still, one can't say that at least, oh, Honda hasn't presented the world with some significant engineering, IMO.
#31 of 786 Current Market Rate for 2003 SL55
Mar 07, 2002 (2:52 pm)
I just talked with an associate in CA and we were discussing the new SL. He said his dealer told him that those with early allocation of the SL55 AMG are going to ask close to $US180,000 because this is what some people are offering for the car. I guess it really is a competitor for the Ferrari 360 in more ways than just performance. Mercedes is allowing these mark ups on new cars I guess.
Mar 07, 2002 (3:09 pm)
Mercedes can "discourage" markups but can't control them legally, is my understanding, since every dealer (except the factory "front" stores) are independent franchisees.
HONDA--Honda is the exception to the rule of the generalization that the Japanese copy and refine rather than innovate. I think the reason Honda is different is due to their vast motorcycle and substantial racing experience.
If Honda punched into the upper luxury market (unlikely) I'd lose sleep if I made cars in Germany.
#33 of 786 M.B. Quality Slippage
Mar 07, 2002 (3:24 pm)
"Keep dreaming, MB remains the standard of the world" Yeah ok I'll take your word for it. Till Lexus crashed their party.
You can compare the trim inside to anything you want knock yourself out, compare it to my old Nikon camera with brushed trim but it still reeks of higher quality ambience than anything Benz and has lots of fine wood to go along if that's what one wants.
One who arrogantly underestimates the Japanese automakers is one who pays the price just like the Big 2.5 Brass did and were squealing like little piglets after when marketshare went bye bye in the 80's. This is what the Germans did exactly in the late 80's.
When Benz takes Lexus's place as number 1 in quality surveys, dealer satisfaction and realibility than I'll bow down and say their number 1. Go to finestsedan.com and see all the cars tested.