Mercedes Build Quality - Donald
Clarkson really slammed the build quality of the latest Mercedes in the Sunday Times today ? and its dynamic qualities as well. This is in line with comments I have read from a number of sources, including HJ and others on this forum.

However I seem to remember the new C Class getting universal rave reviews when it was introduced not that long ago.

I have owned several new Mercs over the years and whilst the motoring hacks might have justifiably criticised some as boring, nobody was in any doubt that their build quality was outstanding. That above all was what set the marquee apart from other cars.

I find it difficult to believe that Mercedes would be stupid enough to risk their reputation by deliberately reducing quality to save costs as Clarkson suggests.

On retirement I intended to buy a C Class or perhaps the forthcoming new E Class to keep until I fell off my perch ? now I have doubts.

So my question. Have quality standards really fallen so quickly or is it one of these myths that is picked up and repeated and repeated? Has anyone got personal experience of newish Mercs?

Please don?t tell me what I should buy in lieu of a Merc. I assure you I won?t buy a Lada, Citroen or Freelander!
Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Roger Jones
Is it a case of diworsification, I wonder? The M-B range has deepened (towards the mass market) and broadened in recent years, and volume output has increased significantly. And then there's the corporate diworsification factor with the dubious acquisition of Chrysler. Add to that the possibility of an insidious cultural factor in terms of the employment of former East Germans, with all that they knew about building cars. Inadvertant remarks by staff at main dealers also rather confirm discomfort about build quality. I am glad I don't own a new one and I shall be watching very carefully before replacing mine with something newer.
Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Marc
BMWs still exhibit excellent build quality and That Is where I would be more inclined to invest my Cash !
Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Honest John
The explanation is that the original LHD launch and road test C Class were built in Germany. RHD C Class are built in South Africa.

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Chad R
I am (and always will be) a BMW fan. Now that that is out of the way.....

Mercedes have been "lowering" their quality since around 1995/6. I first noticed it on the facelifted E class and the newly introduced C Class. I have to say that IMO BMW's quality has been pretty much unchanged through the nineties though the plastics used in earlier cars "seemed" more durable. In time I'm sure that we'll know whether the current cars have that longevity.

Having said all that.....I think if you where to take a look at the current Audi range right from the A2 through to the flagship A8 it would be hard to find fault with the fit and finish and the overall quality.


P.S My '90 Model 535i Sport still looks and feels new, all the electrics still work inc seats and OBC etc, etc. - not bad for a everyday car and a 13 year old one at that..... though I love it to bits my Xantia will never be as good (even when brand new!)
Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Michael Scott
I don't like MB at all. I think that build quality is going down as they try to maintain profitability.

I bought a C200 P Reg with 50,000 miles a couple of years ago. It went well for 9 months or so until......with the car fully loaded with 3 kids driving to Venice for the summer holidays (with our friends and their kids in an old Mondeo behind us) after leaving Tooting at 5am the car decided it didn't fancy it at all and remained stuck in second gear (auto box). We got as far as Mitcham. I made the call that we should not try to drive to Venice in second gear and we turned around and headed home. Total misery.

The car took a week to fix under warranty - a new gearbox was fitted. Geyfords in Tooting did nothing to assist the ruined holiday - refused to provide a car. We used an Omega supplied by the insurers to (eventually) get to Venice. The Omega, although a bit flimsy as regards the interior, was great to drive and very smooth on the motorway.

I traded in the MD in the Autumn for a used 7 series which is fantastic. If I was buying new I would definitiely go for a BMW - I am biased but to me BMW is streets ahead of MB.

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - David W
This thread seems to be more damming evidence for a trend in MBs that is commented on more and more these days.

Shame as those with good memories will know I've fancied a monster miles mid 1990's MB TD Estate for a while now. Just waiting for their price to meet my budget, few years to go.

I wonder what is the latest I could safely buy to get that solid quality of my uncle's 1985 200 Series or a 1990 190E I look after?

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - humpy
In germany the taxi drivers all still do millions of kms in MBs not BMWs how does that work?? maybe it relates back to the earlier thread pointing out that RHD MBs aren't made in germany.
Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Dave
"that solid quality of my uncle's 1985 200 Series or a 1990 190E I look after?"

What you want is a Land Rover David. There may be someone on this BB who knows about them...
Land Rover promises. - David W
Thing is Dave he seems a bit unreliable. Lots and promising talk but will it ever be seen on the road?

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Donald
Thanks for the info about RHD C Class being built in SA, does the malaise only affect RHD cars made outside Germany.

I wonder if the Andy who lives in Germany has any info about new Mercs built in the Fatherland. The ADAC used to produce impressive reliability statistics on all cars.

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Simon Saxton

Whilst I do not pay much attention to Clarkson, I must admire that,unlike many other motoring journalists, he is not psychophantic towards the big manufacturers.If a car is dubious he will extol the fact !
I too can confirm that my personal experience reflects a significant downward turn in build & now, engineering quality.
I will need much persuasion to buy another.

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Julian Lindley

For goodness sake you build quality merchants, please would you provide the technical details to support your assertions rather than cover the subject in blancmange.

We would all like to benefit from your knowledge or experience, but in a balanced way. Predjudices and preconceptions are all too easy to exaggerate from half truths or throw away lines. Having said that, your claim may be correct, but flesh needs to be added to support your argument.

My MB C 200K, I am sure is far from perfect, but in order to benefit from enlightened contributors, the info supplied needs to be accurate and detailed.

To me, a fussy bugger, the car overall is a delight. My preoccupation at purchase was good overall engineering design, quality materials and product longevity. I usually keep my cars for 10 years.

Mr Clarkson is a clever man and raconteur, sound bites are his speciality. The trouble is that deciphering quality argument from Clarksons tongue in cheek is plain hard work.

I would welcome any info as to build quality of this MB, as long as it has some detail around it!


Re: Mercedes Build Quality - David W

You make a fair point. I only really repeat comments I've heard here with some distress, what if my "lottery win" car might not impress.

Ajit is onto something though. A huge amount of this is perception based on the most illogical subjective thoughts. The feel of trim that is of little importance to the overall running of a car can be very important.

I'll keep an open mind.

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Ajit Matthew
Mechanically, Mercedes have not compromised on quality.

Most of the issues centre around the "contact points" with the owner encounters like the plastics etc which are nowhere as good as they use to be.. Mercedes are quite aware of this and are in the process of correcting this. Witness the revised A class. The forthcoming E class hopes to be back on track as also the revised S Class. Re: M Class, less said the better, interiors were totally out sourced from Lear. Mercedes will probably crck the whip again over there.
Re: Mercedes Build Quality - alan

yes i have a 3 year old c240 no problems waht so ever only he samllest rattle in the dash boring but great !
Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Honest John
Will report on the latest E Class on 23rd/24th February.

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Randolph Lee
I was very impressed with the new type A class I hired in sept/october last year for 5 weeks and a few thousand miles It was brand new with just a few delevery miles on it when I drove it off from the London Bridge Base of

For a car in it's price range it was amazing re fit and finish and the plasics used inside would have been at home in a car of twice the price...
perhaps makers are finaly getting a handle on the whole plastics thing... I mean plastic is plastic what can the price dif. be (at the build level) between'cheap' plastic and 'expesive' plasic on something like a dashboard? £10? £20? Why does not everyone use the 'good' stuff?
Nantucket Island U.S.A.
Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Donald
Your point is spot on. When I raised this thread I asked:-

"is it one of these myths that is picked up and repeated and repeated? Has anyone got personal experience of newish Mercs?"

That said Clarkson was right about the Vectra!!!!!

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Julian Lindley
David W.

I've really searched hard on this MB of mine to find shoddy workmanship, poor component design or mediocre assembly. The interior, which I percieve generates the most build quality flak has had my particular attention.


I notice some plastic panelling at the rear and bottom of the B post is a rotten fit.

The rear seat squab mounting point plastic covers come off rather too easy.


The power steering is too light

The binacle display is fine but the data size is too small for bods like me who in recent years have been obliged to wear reading glasses. My long sight is A1 so glasses not worn for driving.

The handling on windy roads is magnificent, with little body roll, although I am happy to accept that a BMW 3 series could probably do even better. The MB - C is heavier than its 3 series contemporary and also taller. Detail design for quality mandatory crash test results, coupled with its extra weight have influenced the dynamics a tad.

Nothing else I feel stongly about, so would like to know other areas of criticsm.

Are you the bod who is rebuilding a Landrover? That should keep you busy! I had a college chum in days of yore, who had an early model with a cab similar in many ways to WW2 Bedford trucks. I liked the old thing, it had a real character. I trained in agricultural engineering in the 60's so have a natural empathy for them.

All the best

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - David W

Thanks for the quality audit. I really hope MB does keep that solid image we all associated with it for years and years.

Yes I'm the Land Rover bod. My signature on the Land Rover forum is "I will get it month. Might have to change that to next year.

Mine should have that all metal interior but has been much modified over the years and has a Series 3 dash with a real heater now.

I did pick up on your farming thing before, just the chap to call when the knotters go wrong on my Massey 20 baler then??

Re: Mercedes Build Quality - Honest John
Some details of the new W211 E Class are now posted in the news and car by car breakdown. It looks sensational from the side. I don't get to drive it until 21st/22nd February.
Re: Mercedes Build Quality - ROBIN
I dont think this is very topical,but it may be interesting,.
About ten years ago it was circumstancially easy for me to compare the current models of MB,BMW,Audi,and Volvo.
Dynamically no comment is possible,suffice to say that none of them rated a "WOW!",perhaps i drove the wrong ones.
Quality wise,it was very clear that Audi were superb and that BMW were improving fast,this was before the non -Cortina-esque 3 series of 1991,however,which I drove in early 4cyl configuration and considered the worst four I had driven for ages,gutless and rough.
I never could see the attraction of mercs,however many I drove ,they all felt inert and lifeless,with very tacky interiors which only appeared durable because they started off tacky and stayed that way.I was forced to drive a 190 with a six cylinder engine and no extras once.I found it impossible to believe that anyone would buy such an awful vehicle.It was like a london bus in trim,appearance and performance,although lacking the charisma,naturally.
I also owned,for a long time,although I certainly never intended to,a volvo estate.It had the most sensible estate car boot I have ever seen,if only I could find its like today.
It was unsupportably slow,handled like a truck,burnt petrol with dypsomaniac thirst and had trim as good as the Mercs,ie plastic,tacky,and no better than it ought to be.
Its only a personal opinion,and I have certainly not driven them all,but the following remains true,however I try and change it:
1) I've never driven a Jaguar I dont like.
2)I've liked most of the Audis I've driven.
3I've never driven a Merc or BMW that I've liked at all.
Perhaps,due to the adulation heaped upon them by the Once-Round-the-Block-and Write-the Road Test children that certain tabloid weekly and monthly motoring magazines feel obliged to employ,presumeably for cost reasons,I have expected too much.

Value my car