W what makes you Mercedes really look like? Is it about size, performance, comfort and luxury? Certainly, but other ambitious premium manufacturers such as Audi, BMW or Jaguar also offer that. Is it the view of the star that makes you happy, is it the wide, comfortable seats, or is it the logic of intuitive operation? Can it be put into a scoring or is it completely irrational? With me on the search for that mysterious Mercedes feeling, three sedans from an era, 500 SEL, E 280 and C 220, are very similar, they belong to one family, and Mercedes chief designer Bruno Sacco gave them the appearance of a functional wind tunnel -Aesthetics: the massive and uncompromisingly constructed S-Class W 140, the grown-up first C-Class W 202, which has long since ceased to be a Baby Benz, and the E-Class W 210. It initially acquired a dubious reputation as a protagonist the four-eyed face that irritated many friends of the brand.
It was the 90s that also stood for controversial company policy in recent Stern history. The so-called model offensive was not appreciated by every friend of the brand, and certainly not the associated path to mass production of over a million cars per year. Rust and above all quality problems gnawed at the legendary reputation of solid workmanship. In Sindelfingen they even thoughtlessly saved the wax for shock absorber domes and axle mounts. In short, the Mercedes feeling of security, reliability and solidity was massively attacked by the red pen. Mercedes enthusiasts who are particularly loyal to the line were also bothered by the new equipment packages such as Classic, Elegance, Esprit or Avantgarde in the C- or E-Class, which sound far too much like Ghia, Berlina or Karat and which are associated with the plush and pomp of folk brands as connects Ford, Opel or VW.
Serious manufacturers leave it with sober letters and numbers, such as 260 E, period. Since those times, when the star began to turn the other way around, the predecessors W 126, W 201 and W 124 have apparently been canonized as the last real Mercedes in committed youngtimer circles. Even though they too have their weaknesses in old age. They also like to rust, the driver's seat cheeks are always frayed, their electric sunroofs always run in slow motion, and oil can never be left without when the engine is coldRefill with the help of a water pump pliers because the bayonet cover is simply stuck mercilessly. That is also part of the familiarity.
S-Class with a noble flair
The first car to be launched is the S-Class in the form of a 500 SEL, the traditional type designation aims at an early W 140 from 1993. The long version with a V8 seemed to me to be the most suitable benchmark for Mercedes virtues, even better than the capricious and almost a little decadent S 600. I decided to decline the Mercedes nomenclature from top to bottom, to feel exactly what is left of the unmistakable Mercedes feeling one step below.
Experience has shown that this sovereign, this dignified appearance occurs in an unmatched, highly compressed form in the S and SL model series. Performance, comfort, solidity and innovative technology, combined with stylish design avant-garde, that is what defines the sporty and prestigious Mercedes coronation since the mid-1950s. The big car in serious blue-black metallic costs 14,900 euros. I borrowed it from the Bavarian dealer Hagenbusch, the analog speedometer counter shows 200,971 kilometers, so not even a few. But the formidable S-Class presents itself as the year-old car, there are no scratches inside or outside, the black leather of the comfortable armchairs shows just as little signs of use as the leather-covered steering wheel or the selector lever gate. A sign of high quality and the best care for over 27 years. After all, we know that the burr walnut panels on the 140s often fade, the steering wheel and seats of the flagship get a greasy sheen over time, and the laminated rear window is milky at the corners.
I don't hesitate to take a seat in the front left. The only flaw I note is the electric seat adjustment that has not been ordered, I start the five-liter eight-cylinder and drive off. Tall Hendrik's sense of space is also overwhelming at the front and not just in the rear lounge. I feel lost behind the large airbag steering wheel that the E 280 Avantgarde and C 220 Elegance share in exactly the same form, which are already available for my later trips: an era, a family.
The casual power of the V8
The intricately constructed four-camshaft V8 whispers casually to itself, it always ensures pleasant background music while driving. Its many components seem to be interwoven in a harmonious carpet of sound, the 320 hp promises high dynamics of the solid two-tonner on demand via kickdown or at almost full throttle in gear positions two and three. I know the four-valve light-alloy engine very well from the 500 E, there it can tear up trees on demand, but you have to force yourself to do so, especially in the 500 SEL. This one offers the same performance and much, much more car for half the price of a 500 E. That goes through my head as I steer, think, accelerate and cruise around. Because I don't have to do more to make rapid progress, S-Class driving is like relaxation on the go, even without air suspension, the perfectly dampened chassis simply irons rough, brittle asphalt.
What about that mystical Mercedes feeling in the W 140? There is plenty of it, especially comfort, solidity, superior performance and valuable materials. The view of the cockpit with the full set of five round instruments is also reassuring; only the eleven occupied indicator lights in the 500 SEL should remain off while driving. I appreciate the two windscreen wipers, but I don't necessarily need the double glazing, it dampens the V8 staccato too much, which kicks in at 3,000 rpm. But despite all the love, a W 140 like this always remains a little aloof and at a distance from its driver. He's not the type to cuddle. He lacks the security typical of Mercedes.
He also gave us the badge grill. Since then, the star has grown unmotivated out of the middle of the bonnet, the once proud three-dimensional dummy radiator has degenerated into a flat, flat grill. And the doors seem to be too big and not beaded enough to fall into the lock with that dry sound of gunshots like the previous W 126. So, dear 140, that had to be said, I hope you don't pull your dipsticks offended a, I have forgiven you for this embarrassment, as well as the once perceived elephant-like oversize, which the decades modeled in a kind of cautious aesthetic erosion into calm, timeless elegance.
The stately E-Class
The E-Class, an E 280 Avantgarde, is already waiting with the engine running. Nevertheless, I take my time to let the pleasantly stately-looking and well-proportioned car work on me. The strange accessory wheels model Alutec Evo Pro 7 have of course to give way to the original five-hole rims. It is the luxurious avant-garde, I recognize it by the blue-tinted windows and the special color violan metallic, a dark blue with a slight purple tinge. My reconciliation phase with the W 210, which was once rejected because of its too cheeky, four-eyed face, has now been going on for several years. Now I like it very much when, like this avant-garde, it offers me an extra dose of luxury, a little bizarre shrillness and a six-cylinder that hangs on a five-speed automatic.
This one impresses with a number of properties that immediately give me that pleasantly familiar Mercedes feeling. It is spacious, solid and luxurious, the Avantgarde line counteracts the basic narrow-mindedness of this star-adorned archetype of the upper mid-range semi-detached house. I happily hog it, the driver's seat tightly surrounds me, here in the cheap 97er 210 for 1,300 euros I get the electric seat adjustment that I have longed for in the S-Class, even the steering wheel reacts silently as if by magic via a coin-like silhouette in the symbolic Switch miniature.
The fine ambience of bird's-eye maple and lingerie-like seat covers in 'Tiffany' fabric is unimpressed by just 156,470 kilometers in the digital display. The entire thick log book is in the glove compartment, which is also part of the typical Mercedes feeling for me. Stop Automobile provided me with this very individual E 280. Only the many rust marks in the lower area are common, typical for the model range and explain the ridiculous price. They don't harm my strong Mercedes feeling in this car. For me, yellow plastic lenses are more off-putting on my four eyes, also a 210 disease.
I release the foot parking brake, 'plop' makes the echo to this ritual typical of the Stern. Before I gently move the selector lever to 'D' through the inimitably functional zigzag backdrop of the five-speed automatic, my satisfied glance sweeps over the instruments and the center console, which is littered with small, rounded toggle switches. With the 210 at the latest, it becomes clear to me that the Mercedes feeling is built into it, the driver's feelings reflect it.
I accelerate, the E 280 gently starts moving, and I quickly make my way with the violet into the greenCountry road speed of 100 km /h. It feels good, the 204 hp V6 runs silky and smooth under the clearly sloping bonnet, it has a balancer shaft that takes away the vibrations caused by the construction of the unorthodox three-valve 90-degree engine with double ignition.
The V6 is popular in the E-Class
I admit, I have prejudices against the completely unworthy Mercedes V6 design, I cry after the in-line engine, the 2.8-liter double ocher with 24 Valves, constructed like textbooks and without any makeshift knitting, direct bucket tappets instead of roller rocker arms. Built two months earlier and 'my Violetta' still had the in-line engine, then the 1,300 euros would already be on the counter with Michael, the owner of Stop Automobile.
In the meantime, I don't think I can even notice the difference between a straight six and a critically eyed V6. The powerful, quiet and economical engine, together with the comfortable chassis, characterize the extremely pleasant travel characteristics of the W 210. Except for the more direct rack-and-pinion steering, the chassis with front damper strut and rear multi-link axle is the same as that of the S-Class. Apart from the rust, is there anything to criticize about the 210? Yes, the oil pressure gauge is missing. The needle that gently flips up when accelerating is important for the Mercedes feeling. He seems to whisper to you: 'Everything will be fine.'
Too little engine in the C 220
The first Mercedes without an oil pressure gauge was the C-Class, which the star fans thought at least as much as strange as the rear lights towering high into the side panels. The 25-year-old C 220 Elegance, third in the Mercedes family clan of the 90s, parks with the front facing the exit, which signals a certain spirit of enterprise. Sedattin Yalcin, a car dealer from Fürstenfeldbruck, made it available to me, the car costs 2,300 euros. In the same elegant shade of blue-black metallic, it looks once again like a miniature from the 140 S-Class. Technically, too, it is your scaled-down copy, the chassis corresponds to the type of house. There is always a W 202 with a multi-link axle andtraditional servo recirculating ball steering on the go. The engine compartment and chassis have the reserves and the format to accommodate a 306 hp V8 of the more compact M 113 model, as happened in the case of the unexpectedly brutal C 43 AMG.
In terms of temperament, the C 220 Elegance is of the mild kind with just 150 hp, it sweetened my supposed descent from the E 280 with leather upholstery, automatic transmission and sunroof, inside pleases me this almost complete equipment with a switch-studded instrument panel including a center console. A touch of luxury and the automatic, this time with four gears, are important for an intensely felt and sublime Mercedes feeling. This supports smooth gliding, keeps the speed level low and creates the serenity of the big car, even if it is not at all in the case of the C-Class.
The four-valve four-cylinder with its two overhead camshafts is legendary in terms of economy, I only needed 8.3 liters per 100 kilometers. But from above it has a sharp sound and its speed level appears to be quite high. In the 240 version with V6 engine, I would also attest the typical Mercedes feeling of the C-Class.