The 2004 Lexus is Absolutely the best Car EVER Made!!!
I know!!! Beauty is in the eye of the
beholder!!! My objective is to write the most detailed informative
review of the LS and its history. When I got out of college I was
intrigued with the Japanese philosophy of Kaizan and I decided to work as a
Lexus salesman. At the time, in 1990, I was 21 and I believe I was
probably the youngest Lexus salesman on earth. It was then I
started my love affair with the Lexus LS. I must say that while I
understand that the Lexus brand is very successful, I personally have only
ever been interested in the LS Flagship series. The LS has quietly
revolutionized the automobile industry by setting a new benchmark for
design, quality an reliability.
Separating Fact From the
It still amazes me how many people want
to quickly discount the LS. I remember when I was a salesman having a
customer come in to the showroom and say, "I am sorry, but I can't believe
this car could be better than a Jaguar." I remember thinking to
myself. My primary objective in this article is to separate the fact
from the fiction.
J.D. Powers and
As of 2004, the LS is the highest ranked premium luxury car in initial
quality for the seventh year in a row according to J.D. Power and
Consumer Reports (November 2003) rated
the 2003 Lexus LS 430 number one is their Luxury Sedan analysis.
Consumer Reports tested and ranked in chronological order from best to
worst; Lexus LS430, Mercedes-Benz S430, Cadillac DeVille
DHS, Audi A8L, Jaguar XJ8 Vanden Plas, BMW 745Li, and
Lincoln Town Car Ultimate.
Consumer reports said "The Lexus
LS430 was not only the least expensive (the LS 430 they tested included the
Ultra Luxury package and was still the least expensive. The Ultra
Luxury model includes features that pamper passengers like heated, powered,
reclining rear seats with built-in massagers.) of the group but also scored
the highest and is the only car we can recommend." Keep in mind
Consumer Reports rated the 2003 Lexus LS 430 #1 and an "Excellent all-around
choice" (Keep in mind Consumer Reports tested a 2003 LS 430 and the all-new
2004 Lexus LS 430 completely blows away its 2003 predecessor.)
Consumer Reports also said they could not recommend the Mercedes due
Car and Driver Magazine
In the December 2004 edition, Car
and Driver magazine rated the 2004 LS 430 the Fist Place winner for
In the $70,000 Luxury Sedan
competition, Car and Driver rated the Mercedes-Benz S430 in Sixth Place,
the Volkswagen Phaeton in Fifth Place, The Audi A8L in fourth place, the
BMW 745i in third place, the Jaguar XJ8 in second place and the Lexus LS 430
in first place.
Car and Driver said "The Lexus
ride is unmatched in this group... Gorgeous interior details, whipped-cream
ride, silky shifts, rear-seat accouterments to dazzle the most demanding
potentate...The Verdict: The next step up from silk underwear...It's the
Lexus interior that keeps amazing. Are pleasure palaces this fine? The Ecru
leather is so soft ($1460). The seat is such a perfect shape, and amazingly,
it feels that way for every driver. The wood grain is so radiant, so
expressive, so intricate and self-illuminating . . . how often must you
change the batteries?
In February of 2002. Automobile Magazine Vol. 16 No.
11. Best luxury car over $40,000: I think it was
Automobile that said the LS 430 has enough wood in it to build a canoe!
Story about GM suing Toyata.-----
Christians insider report.
Mercedes warranty costs.
The quality of M-B cars are not what they used to be. Mercedes was a
"niche" marketer/car company. And it used to be run by engineers. Now they
are trying to appeal to the masses, and the bean counters have taken over.
If you want more insight, there's an article about poor quality at Mercedes
Having worked with Honda, Acura & Lexus and doing this job for over ten
years now, I was surprised at how many problems M-B cars have. At Lexus, and
even Honda & Acura, the quality was much higher. And when something out of
the ordinary did go wrong, the factory was more "flexible" on how I can
assist clients who were out of warranty. M-B has much higher warranty costs,
so they are less flexible when it comes to goodwill warranty repairs.
The cars themselves are still built very well (M-B is still tops when it
comes to safety, powertrain & "over"-engineering their cars), but there are
lots of "small" problems which add up to big problems for these clients,
especially if they paid $100K for a car and it has a laundry list of
problems with only 10,000 miles on the odometer.
Monday, June 03, 2002 3:38 PM
2004 is retro. exposed dual exhast white dash light
Best air cleaning system and how it
What if marshins came down to earth and
were trying to objectively figure out what the best care made is?
Bill Gates drives one. He can
have any car and he drives Lexus.
Flagship. Eji Toyoda and top
brass at Toyota drive this. There is not another Lexus model I would
Between 5 and 7 series. Between E300 and S500.
The truest definition of Luxury? When you would rather escape to your
life, than from it. --2004 Lexus LS 430 Broshure
Timeless, Real Luxury. Mercedes
makes sqeaky noieses.
LS 400 wine glass demonstration:
February 11, 2002
AMCI Declares Lexus LS 430 "Finest Luxury Sedan in America."
Comprehensive and independent study by nation's leading auto testing firm
includes exhaustive evaluation of five top luxury vehicles
February 11, 2002, Los Angeles, Calif. - For consumers looking for the
"finest" things in life, the nation's leading automotive testing company has
some news to consider when choosing an automobile. After completing a
rigorous 193-test study, Automotive Marketing Consultants Incorporated (AMCI)
has declared the Lexus LS 430 the "Finest Luxury Sedan in America."
"It was an extremely complicated testing program because we evaluated
everything that would be important to a potential buyer," said George
Doganis, AMCI's lead testing engineer. "The expectation is that luxury cars
have to be excellent in every aspect; having fine appointments isn't enough.
Luxury cars also have to excel in performance, utility and quality."
In fact, AMCI's three-phase testing program, which required more than one
year and over 4,000 man-hours to complete, is considered unparalleled in the
automotive industry. AMCI drives and evaluates more cars each year than the
federal government, car enthusiast magazines or any other American
The first phase consisted of an intense study of published materials and
internal AMCI research of all luxury sedans sold in America with V8 or V12
engines produced in quantities of 500 or more. The ten vehicles selected for
testing were: the 2000 Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph, 2000 Bentley Arnage Red
Label, 2001 Jaguar Vanden Plas Supercharged, 2001 Lexus LS 430, 2001
Mercedes Benz S600, 2001 BMW 750 iL, 2002 Infiniti Q45, 2001 Audi A8L, 2001
Lincoln Continental, and the 2001 Cadillac Seville STS.
In phase two, this field of ten was tested on a point system through a wide
array of evaluations, both on the road and in the research lab.
Results of the second phase narrowed the playing field to five luxury sedans
for phase three. The competition was tough, pitting the Audi A8L, BMW 750 iL,
Infiniti Q45, Mercedes Benz S600, and Lexus LS 430 against each other in a
total of 193 arduous tests arranged in seven different categories, including
Performance, Active Safety and Sportiness; Passive Safety and Advanced
Technology; Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH); Maintenance, Economy and
Warranty; Ergonomics, Roominess and Utility; Fit and Finish; and Luxury,
Comfort and Convenience Features.
"We entered this three-phase program with an absolute commitment to
impartial, objective and accurate testing, and we believe our protocol
reflects that," Doganis said. "In fact, AMCI measured only those things that
can be objectively measured. For areas such as leather, paint and wood
quality, that are subjective, we scoured the nation and brought in a panel
of top experts to add another layer of objectivity in our testing."
Among the independent findings:
- The LS 430 bested the BMW 750 iL in the tough 50-0 mph braking test on
wet pavement. The BMW took 95.3 feet to reach a stop from 50 mph, while
the LS 430 stopped more than three feet sooner.
- With a decibel reading of just 31.1 at idle in the front seat, the LS
430 was the quietest car in the competition, and the most tranquil vehicle
that AMCI has ever tested (for comparison, background sound in a typical
library is about 40 decibels).
- For fit and finish, Lexus' attention to detail stood out. For example,
the LS 430 has no exposed screw heads and fasteners in its cabin. The
Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph has 60.
The Lexus LS 430 scored well in every category and finished first in three
of seven test categories: 1) Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH), 2)
Ergonomics, Roominess and Utility, and 3) Fit and Finish.
Who is AMCI
AMCI uses extensive industry knowledge and its Comparative Vehicle
Assessment (CVA®) to help manufacturers better understand their vehicles and
those of the competition. After thoroughly exploring a vehicle's attributes,
and understanding where and how it excels, AMCI puts it through rigorous
testing for results that consumers can use in their purchasing decisions.
*Based on AMCI overall weighted evaluation of the 2001 LS
430 Ultra Luxury Selection versus all similarly equipped luxury sedans
available June 5, 2001. Vehicles tested were 2001 MYs except for the 2000
Bentley Arnage Red Label, 2000 Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph and 2002 Infiniti
Q45. †Testing included
all luxury sedans sold in America with
V8 or V12 engines produced in quantities of 500 or more.
included the Audi A8 L, BMW 750iL, Infiniti Q45, Lexus LS 430 and
Mercedes-Benz S600. ©2002 Lexus, a Division of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.,
Inc. Lexus reminds you to wear seatbelts, secure children in rear seat, obey
all speed laws and drive responsibly.
S IT POSSIBLE that popular opinions regarding the
icons of motoring luxury are, in fact,
If so, perhaps it is time to replace conventional
wisdom with regular wisdom. That’s what the experts
at Automotive Marketing Consultants Incorporated
(AMCI) did when they set out to determine "The
Finest Luxury Sedan in America"* once and for all.
AMCI is a respected, independent automotive
testing company that specializes in the analysis of
automobiles. They drive and evaluate more cars than
the federal government, car-enthusiast magazines or
any organization in the United States. The results of
their impartial evaluations are used by car companies
when making superiority claims like the ones you’re
accustomed to seeing in car commercials.
Contrary to what many believe, the restrictions
that govern advertising are stringent. These federal
guidelines require that advertisers definitively prove
and substantiate claims
before they make them.
So, how did AMCI conclusively determine the
identity of "The Finest Luxury Sedan in America"?
more pertinently, how did they dismiss all others?
In order to substantiate this claim to a point far
beyond mere conjecture, AMCI undertook their most
comprehensive and sophisticated study to date.
More significantly, though, this evaluation (like
all performed by AMCI) rejected prejudice, partiality
and favoritism and, instead, embraced the tangible,
measurable and, of course, provable evidence.
By way of example, to evaluate the wood, leather
and paint of the five vehicles that made the final
round, AMCI did something they have never done
before. They recruited three independent experts in
each of these fields to do the judging for them. They
also did the same for the Ergonomics category, thus
effectively setting a new standard in impartiality.
In truth, AMCI’s reputation for neutrality is so
revered that when the federal guidelines that govern
comparative automotive advertising were originally
established, they were asked to assist in the process.
Although the experts at AMCI drive a great deal,
they do not believe in shortcuts—of any kind.
Consequently, this comprehensive three-phase
evaluation took over a year and 4,000 man-hours to
complete. To appreciate just how thorough this study
really was, consider the scope of the driving tests:
Multiple test drivers repeated every test until each
achieved eighteen "perfect" runs in every car.
This would effectively eliminate any differences
in driving styles, and therefore could be used to draw
factual conclusions about each car’s capability, rather
than the individual driver’s. (And that, after all, is the
point of this exceptionally thorough evaluation.)
Phase one was a preliminary paper review of the
most luxurious sedans available in the United States.
The study imposed some basic criteria†
only the finest automobiles commonly available. Ten
were promoted to the second phase of evaluation,
Comparative Vehicle Assessment (CVA®)
An example of each was acquired and scrutinized
even further. After careful comparison, five of the ten
proved capable of competing for the title of "The
Finest Luxury Sedan in America." Consequently, they
proceeded to phase three, Certification Testing.‡
Next, AMCI sourced the most luxurious versions
available of each of the five from official franchised
dealers. Then they began the task of subjecting them
to one hundred and ninety-three dynamic, static and
luxury-feature trials in a total of seven categories.
A luxury sedan is not simply an ordinary sedan
with wood and leather thrown in for good measure.
It is a vehicle built to deliver an extraordinary driving
experience on every level imaginable. Accordingly,
when AMCI performed their in-depth analysis, they
reviewed these cars on every level imaginable.
Here are some of their astonishing discoveries:
As the headline of this advertisement suggests,
people have very strong opinions about automobile
brands. Certain brands are perceived as more refined
than others. Perhaps none exemplifies this quite like
Rolls-Royce. However, upon closer examination, the
validity of this perception must surely be called into
question. (And that’s exactly what we’re doing.)
Nothing illustrates this point as well as simply
counting all the exposed screw heads and fasteners
inside a Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph. At AMCI’s count
there are sixty. Which is sixty more than you will
find in "The Finest Luxury Sedan in America."
Chances are, if you considered the Rolls-Royce
a contender, the possibility that the finest sedan was a
Bentley crossed your mind. But like its matriarch, the
Rolls-Royce, the Bentley Arnage Red Label did not
have what was required to even make the final phase
of AMCI’s study. (Surprised?
We don’t blame you.)
Since these icons of refinement need no further
deliberation, what other brands come to mind?
Is it possible that the BMW 750iL actually has
the required pedigree?
After all, it certainly boasts
heritage. Unfortunately, in the 50–0 mph braking on
wet pavement evaluation, the BMW 750iL stopped
more than three feet after "The Finest Luxury Sedan
in America." And, more astonishingly, it didn’t claim
the victory in any test in the Performance category.
Perhaps you thought the Mercedes-Benz S600
could be considered as a serious contender?
And, truthfully, had this study aimed to identify
the finest German-made luxury sedan in America, it
would have triumphed. But regrettably (for them), the
"German-made" qualifier wasn’t one of the criteria.
And almost appropriately, the luxury sedan that
decisively conquered it was also the quietest in this
next evaluation. By achieving a decibel reading of 31.1
at idle, measured in the front seat, it became the most
silent vehicle AMCI has ever tested. (And they have
been doing this for twenty years.) If you’re wondering
what 31.1 decibels may sound like, your typical local
library comes in at an earsplitting 40 decibels.
And while AMCI’s researchers didn’t actually test
a library, they can give you a decibel reading for some
other environments. Thanks to the low measurement
in "The Finest Luxury Sedan in America," they began
attempting to record an even lower score. What they
discovered was rather astounding. You see, the truth
is, they found few places that were as tranquil.
Of the twelve interior-sound, ride-quality and
refinement evaluations, "The Finest Luxury Sedan in
America" came out ahead in most and quietly drove
off with the overall victory in this category.
On the subject of victory, "The Finest Luxury
Sedan in America" won the category that made use of
the independent wood, leather and paint specialists.
In the Ergonomics category "The Finest Luxury Sedan
in America" once again lived up to its reputation.
All told, "The Finest Luxury Sedan in America"
won many individual comparisons, three categories
outright and never finished lower than second in any
category. In other words, it proved that preconceived
notions of luxury should be replaced by the facts.
Finally, the results were all carefully analyzed
and AMCI’s experts declared that "The Finest Luxury
Sedan in America" is indeed the Lexus LS 430.
And that is not an opinion that you can choose
to disregard. It’s a fact they can prove. On the subject
of opinions, we trust we have changed yours. (Unless,
of course, you knew it was the Lexus all along.)
WHICH LUXURY SEDAN IS THE FINEST IN AMERICA?
THIS PAGE WILL CHANGE YOUR MIND.
FOR MORE DETAILS VISIT FINESTSEDAN.COM.
Focus on facts.
|Driving News by
Jack Nerad for Driving Today
Testing Concern Names
Lexus Top Luxury Car
Saturday, February 23, 2002
The nation's leading automotive testing
company has declared the Lexus LS 430 the "Finest Luxury Sedan in
America." After completing a rigorous 193-test study, Automotive
Marketing Consultants Incorporated (AMCI), a firm engaged in
authenticating auto manufacturer advertising claims, chose the
top-of-the-line Lexus over products from BMW, Mercedes-Benz,
Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and other top brands.
"It was an extremely complicated testing program because we evaluated
everything that would be important to a potential buyer," said George
Doganis, AMCI's lead testing engineer. "The expectation is that luxury
cars have to be excellent in every aspect; having fine appointments
isn't enough. Luxury cars also have to excel in performance, utility and
In fact, AMCI's three-phase testing program required more than one year
and over 4,000 man-hours to complete. The first phase consisted of an
intense study of published materials and internal AMCI research of all
luxury sedans sold in America with V8 or V12 engines produced in
quantities of 500 or more. The 10 vehicles selected for actual testing
were: the 2000 Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph, 2000 Bentley Arnage Red Label,
2001 Jaguar Vanden Plas Supercharged, 2001 Lexus LS 430, 2001 Mercedes
Benz S600, 2001 BMW 750 iL, 2002 Infiniti Q45, 2001 Audi A8L, 2001
Lincoln Continental, and the 2001 Cadillac Seville STS.
In phase two, the field of 10 was tested on a point system through a
wide array of evaluations, both on the road and in the research lab.
Results of the second phase narrowed the playing field to five luxury
sedans for phase three. The competition was tough, pitting the Audi A8L,
BMW 750 iL, Infiniti Q45, Mercedes Benz S600, and Lexus LS 430 against
each other in a total of 193 arduous tests arranged in seven different
categories, including Performance, Active Safety and Sportiness; Passive
Safety and Advanced Technology; Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH);
Maintenance, Economy and Warranty; Ergonomics, Roominess and Utility;
Fit and Finish; and Luxury, Comfort and Convenience Features.
The Lexus LS 430 scored well in every category and finished first in
three of seven test categories: Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH);
Ergonomics, Roominess and Utility (ERU); and Fit and Finish (F&F). For
fit and finish, Lexus' attention to detail stood out. For example, the
LS 430 has no exposed screw heads and fasteners in its cabin, while the
Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph has 60. With a decibel reading of just 31.1 at
idle in the front seat, the LS 430 was the quietest car in the
competition, and the most tranquil vehicle that AMCI has ever tested.
For comparison, background sound in a typical library is about 40
© Studio One
All stuff after this from:
|For the latest update from
March 24th 2003
||Ill-fitting: The doors on the passenger side stand away and rise
upwards over the roof
|The star does not shine anymore. Mercedes, once
synonym for top-quality slides into mediocrity with negligent finish
Three sedans of the absolute luxury class. Here it is
all about space, power and prestige. That at the end seen in a sober
light the S-Class stands on top of the victory rostrum it first of all
is due to its excellent engine.
In its best area it makes a mighty boob. And that is
hard: Just Mercedes, a byword for solidity and stable value currently
presents itself at the most as average as far as details in the interior
are concerned. Our S 400 CDI additionally surprised with considerable
finish flaws which were unknown so far from its predecessors from
W108/109 to W140. The current star of the Stuttgarters in the interior
turned into a unkind made designer product. High-quality ingredients?
Nothing doing. Instead: Cheap looking plastics wherever one reaches to.
Cup holder, ashtray, seat covers - all surfaces spray the charm of
average Japanese cars. But those in many cases are better put together.
In the at least DM 145.000 expensive S 400 CDI not straight leather
seams, shaky air vents and slovenly fitted doors testify of lacking care
at the production. Or lacking quality control.
|Prone: Plastic handle in the cover of the trunk
floor. No real hinge, easily breaks off. High-grade chrome handle of the
||Unkind: Cup holder with plastic tabs in the center
console. In the A8 by contrast lovingly constructed: Steel hinge, alu
||Cheap: Lower seat cover from sharp- edged hard
plastics, bad fitment. With the 7-Series by contrast solid, neatly
lined, rounded off (below)
||Slovenly: Ashtrays are broken after emptying,
difficult to be put into place again. Noble: Door
ashtrays in the 7-Series with metal insert (below)
|What upper class can look like demonstrate Audi and
BMW. The interstices fit more exact, the materials look more high-class.
Above all the car manufacturers from Ingolstadt document their love to
the detail in the upper class.
Exactly this is what Mercedes in the meantime has thrown
over board. Quantity instead of quality seems to be the most important
thing in Stuttgart, which in the meantime has seized all model lines.
But when a Passat looks more high-class than an S-Class, something is
going wrong in this country. At least the price structure. That Mercedes
over such sloppiness destroys its own myth is another story.
End of article written by Juergen von Gosen. All photos copyright
Translation and page headline by MBSPY.
|Still in 2003 DaimlerChrysler has severe quality
||Pictured on the left is the hood/fender
of the 100.000+ Euro CL 65 AMG.
For the article about the car
Photo copyright: DaimlerChrysler 2003
reports on February 24th 2002:
| BEHIND THE WHEEL / MERCEDES-BENZ C230
Luxury Limbo Rock: How Low Can Benz
By MICHELLE KREBS
MOVADO watches for the common man.
Tommy Hilfiger styles for every Tom, Dick
and Harry. What's next? Mercedes-Benz as
the people's car?
| From watches to clothes to automobiles,
purveyors of prestige goods are under
pressure to increase sales, and a quick way
to do that is to offer less expensive
products. Mercedes is taking this approach with its C230
sports coupe, a
small car — a hatchback, actually — with a base price of
Aimed at young buyers who could never have afforded a
before, the C230 is selling briskly. But after a week
driving one, I had to
wonder if the company will eventually pay a price for
venturing so far
downscale. Cheaper products may lift sales in the short
run, but they can
also chip away at the exclusivity and scarcity that are
hallmarks of high-end
"When a premium brand becomes available to the common
man, it casts
doubt on the legitimacy of the premium of the company's
other products and
diminishes their value," said John Wolkonowicz, a partner
in the Bulin Group,
a consulting firm in Northville, Mich. "As soon as a brand
tries to be
everything to everybody, it loses focus in the mind of the
In a recent study of premium auto brands, the Bulin
Group found "it gets very
dangerous" for a luxury nameplate to offer models for less
than $27,000, Mr.
Wolkonowicz said. For instance, BMW found that its core
turned off by the 318ti, a $20,000 four-cylinder hatchback
that it sold
alongside more expensive cars in the mid-1990's. BMW is
taking a different
approach with its new Mini, which starts around $17,000,
selling it through
distinct showrooms in separate franchises.
Nonetheless, other luxury carmakers are charging
down-market. Last year,
Jaguar introduced the X-Type, a midsize sedan aimed at
young buyers, with
a starting price of $30,000. The X-Type is based on the
Ford Mondeo sold
in Europe, and it wouldn't be a stretch to call it one of
the best Fords ever
built. But the car lacks the visceral look, smell and feel
that set Jaguars apart
from other cars. Sales have been disappointing, and the
company is already
offering cut- rate leases.
True, Mercedes is not Jaguar, and the three-pointed star
remains a powerful
symbol worldwide, adorning third world taxicabs, European
and presidential limousines alike, with little obvious
damage to the brand. But
while Europeans may not think less of Mercedes for selling
the tiny $20,000
A-Class, wealthy, status-obsessed Americans may not like
the idea of
$25,000 hatchbacks sharing showrooms with their $125,000
In this country, image counts, and the C230 coupe has not
received the royal
treatment. Automobile magazine dared to compare it with a
Hyundai XG 350. The Hyundai, made in South Korea, held its
The C230 springs from the C-Class sedan, which was
redesigned for the
2001 model year. But the coupe bears only a faint
resemblance to its classy
sibling, which is seven inches longer. The two share no
body panels, only
their outside mirrors.
No one will mistake the C230 for the slab- sided
Mercedes-Benzes of yore.
The curved rear end made me think of Renault. The car is
aerodynamic, with the profile of an egg on its side. Some
people clearly like
the look, but I found it bland, even homely.
There is no denying that the C230 shares the
painstaking engineering and
vaultlike construction of bigger Mercedes models. The
steering is precise, the
ride is comfortable and the handling is responsive. The
braking is among the
best in the class.
And the C230 has more safety features than any other
$25,000 car. All four
seat positions have three-point safety belts and head
restraints; there are dual
front air bags (with the BabySmart system that recognizes
when a child seat
is in use); side air bags in front and rear; and
inflatable side curtains that
protect occupants' heads. Also standard are antilock
brake assistance, for panic stops; and stability control,
to prevent skids.
But there is evidence inside the car of how Mercedes
achieved such a low
base price. Some of the materials, which are supposed to
seemed cheap. The fabric on the seats and doors of my
royal blue test car
— leather costs $1,400 extra — had a tacky geometric
pattern. The center
dash is covered in a silver-black material intended to
look like woven
aluminum. Mercedes has used touches of similar materials
before, but it
slathered the stuff in the C230.
The car has a back seat, but it is not roomy and the
rear windows do not
open. Since many buyers are likely to be single and
childless, that is probably
not a big deal. Mercedes has tried to make the C230 airy
by offering a
sunroof ($995) composed of two expansive glass panels, one
The engine is Mercedes's 2.3-liter, 4-cylinder
Kompressor (German for
supercharged). This power plant, which is also used in the
SLK roadster, is
not one of the company's finest. Although rated at 192
horsepower, it felt
sluggish in my test car, which had the optional ($1,300)
transmission. The shifts on the automatic, which allows
for manual gear
shifting, were abrupt. I did not drive a car equipped with
six-speed manual, but I do not have fond memories of other
Mercedes six-speeds. The company says this one has been
While the C230 handles very well, it has a heavy,
leaden quality that keeps it
from being much fun. While the company has billed this as
a car that resulted
from engineers' letting "their hair down," it left me with
a different impression:
that this is what middle-aged German engineers think is
youthful and fun.
They should be assigned to drive the Acura RSX, a
that delivers many more smiles for thousands of dollars
Still, the base price is the big attraction here,
though even a brief encounter
with the order form is likely to raise the toll, given
that many common
features are optional. The standard sound system, for
instance, is an AM/FM
radio with cassette player. You must pay extra for a CD
player, which seems
odd in a car aimed at a young, music-obsessed crowd. (At
least they get a
weather band on the radio.)
For years, Mercedes has cut costs in an effort to hold
the line on prices.
Materials that look and feel relatively cheap have been
showing up even in
expensive models like the S-Class sedan, but have been
especially notable in
the M-Class sport utility. At the same time, the revered
Mercedes brand has
been dropping in quality and durability rankings.
One such survey by TUV, a German auto-inspection and
association, which measured durability during the first
three years of
ownership, ranked half a dozen Toyotas ahead of the
Mercedes, the SLK. (It was No. 12.) Over all, the TUV
survey found that
Mercedes quality and customer satisfaction had been
falling since 1999, and
had dropped below the ranking of General Motors' Opel
In North America, Mercedes fell last year to 10th
place, from 6th, in a J. D.
Power & Associates study that measured dependability after
four to five
years of ownership. The study found 296 problems for every
vehicles, compared with 173 problems for Lexus, which has
first for seven years.
None of these issues — declining quality, budget
materials, possible brand
erosion — may matter much to those who buy the C230. But
risks for a company with a century-old reputation for
reports on February 4th 2002:
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, February 4, 2001, Page B1
Mercedes Brand Fares Badly In Survey of Auto
by Scott Miller and Karen Lundegaard
Staff Reporters of the WALL STREET JOURNAL
FRANKFURT -- Mercedes-Benz, famed for its engineering
prowess, is suddenly facing tough questions about the quality of its
cars, with several surveys showing that the stately German brand may now
trail some decidedly down-market competition.
A surprise blow to Mercedes's quality reputation came
last week when a normally secretive study of car quality in Europe was
leaked to a German trade publication. The report, conducted for the auto
makers themselves, showed Mercedes quality and customer satisfaction
falling since 1999 to levels below Opel, the German unit of General
Motors Corp. and a brand with one of the worst images in Europe. A
separate German survey ranked the German-built Ford Focus compact car
No. 1 in a study of durability during the first three years of a car's
life. The survey, conducted by TÜV, a German auto-inspection and
research association, put half a dozen Toyota models ahead of the first
Mercedes model -- the SLK, which came in 12th.
Mercedes's quality rankings in the U.S. have also
slipped, according to J.D. Power & Associates, an influential arbiter of
automotive-quality ratings. In a fall study of vehicle dependability,
the brand fell to 10th place in 2001 from sixth place the year earlier.
It now ranks behind such brands as Lincoln, Cadillac and Jaguar.
"My personal opinion is that a brand such as Mercedes
should be at the top. That's what people's expectations of the brand
are," said Tom Libby, director of industry analysis for J.D. Power, who
lowered Power's rating for Mercedes's overall product quality to "fair"
from "good" last week in a
presentation ahead of the National Automobile Dealers
Association convention in New Orleans.
The J.D. Power study, which surveyed some 156,000 car
owners, found that five-year-old Mercedes vehicles had 296 problems per
100 vehicles, compared with an average of 285 for autos of the same age
by other luxury makers and an overall industry average of 382. Drivers
were questioned about 137
potential problem areas in nine overall categories:
interior, exterior, transmission, engine, features/ controls,
ride/handling/braking, seats, sound system and
heating/ventilation/cooling. Mercedes showed the biggest declines in
transmission and features/controls.
The surveys are a blow for Mercedes and its parent
DaimlerChrysler AG. With its Chrysler Group unit in deep financial
trouble, DaimlerChrysler has relied on Mercedes as a cash cow. At the
same time, Chrysler is counting on Mercedes to help lift its own quality
by supplying key components like engines.
Donna Boland, Mercedes's U.S. spokeswoman, said the
company has been dealing with volume increases and more complex
technology. Since 1997, it has gone from four model lines to nine.
Still, she said, the company is committed to improving its quality
"Being Mercedes, quality is absolutely the highest
priority," Ms. Boland said. "It's what our brand is based on. We will
use every resource at our disposal to bring those numbers up."
Al Bedwell, research manager at J.D. Power-LMC in
Oxford, England, said Mercedes's quality issues are a byproduct of a
decision in the early 1990s to focus more on what consumers want, rather
than engineers, and to round out the company's product lineup with
smaller -- and cheaper -- cars such as
the A-Class. The moves served their purpose: World-wide
sales of Mercedes cars have doubled to more than one million a year
since 1993, and the company has turned in repeated record profits. But
it's also hurt the brand's overall quality ratings, which take into
account all of its models together.
The A-class, known as "baby Benz," for example, had
to be temporarily pulled from the market in 1998 when it flipped over
during crash avoidance tests.
Mercedes's sport-utility vehicle, the M-Class, was
also criticized for its interior (later revamped) and, in a Consumer
Reports used-car guide, for its reliability.
"It's becoming more evident that Mercedes-build
quality isn't as bulletproof as it used to be," Mr. Bedwell said. "At
the same time, the average-build quality across the industry is
increasing, closing the gap they once enjoyed."
The most recent slap at Mercedes quality came last
week, when a portion of the normally highly confidential New Car Buyer
Survey was leaked to a German auto trade publication. Such surveys of
European consumers aren't typically made public because of tight privacy
laws; the results are usually intended for market research or
manufacturers themselves. The NCBS, for instance, is conducted for auto
manufacturers by survey agencies in each geographical market. It is
arguably the most thorough ranking on the Continent, measuring quality
as well as general customer satisfaction.
According to the NCBS survey index, the number of
negative points per 1,000 Mercedes cars climbed from around 100 in 1999
to more than 110 last year. At the same time, the number of negative
points on Opel cars shrank from around 130 in 1999 to near 100 in 2001.
Mercedes and Opel verified the leaked portions of the
report, but didn't comment on specific faults. Johannes Reifenrath,
director of communications at Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in Stuttgart,
said a more detailed version of the survey showed Mercedes quality was
at least as high as Opel, but he
declined to provide any additional data.
Mr. Reifenrath said Mercedes has been working hard to
address the quality issues. "There are a lot of indications from our
plants that some of those models that have been criticized are
improving," he said.
Despite the surveys, Mercedes's reputation remains
solid. With U.S. consumers, it trails only Rolls Royce in quality
perceptions among auto makers, ahead of Bentley, Porsche, Lexus and
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, according to the EquiTrend study by Harris
Interactive. Lexus, meanwhile,
ranked at the top of the J.D. Power quality studies,
well ahead of its competitors. A Europe-wide survey conducted by German
magazine Auto Motor und Sport, a bible in the industry here, showed
Mercedes had the third most favorable brand image, following BMW in
first place and Porsche.
Indeed, some analysts say surveys such as J.D. Power
and the NCBS are looking at the wrong things. Quality rankings often
move up and down depending on the year, they say, and companies with
lots of new models, as Mercedes has had recently, tend to have more
defects. Longer-term surveys, they argue, show Mercedes quality holding
The company may soon face the toughest test of its
quality. Mercedes is preparing to launch the latest edition of its
E-Class line of full-size sedans -- for years a symbol of the brand.
Unlike the M-Class, which is made in the U.S., and the A-Class, a daring
venture downmarket, Mercedes will have no excuses if the E-Class hits a
End of article from WSJ
British car magazine Autocar writes in February 2001 in
a comparison test between Mercedes-Benz C200K, BMW 320i and Audi A4
about the Mercedes:
"...At rest the tables are turned quite drastically
on the Mercedes. Those quad-eyed good looks and plutocrat badge are
almost the sum total of its showroom appeal. The over-engineered Merc is
a thing of the past now, sadly. Hard, ill-fitting plastics meet rough
fabrics inside to make an interior that is barely more special than a
|Article by MBSPY
In terms of the MB quality gone downhill
DaimlerChrysler seems to have lost ground contact completely. Or how
should one judge about this sentence:
The Mercedes-Benz name is synonymous with
quality engineering the world over.
They wrote it in conjunction with the
introduction of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van in the USA and Canada
from June 2001 on under the Freightliner brand -
a top-level embarassment when you
consider Mr. Schrempp and his buddies did not do their emissions
homework resulting in the fact that the Sprinter has no federal LEV
rating certification in the five US states with California Air Resources
Board certification requirements (which are California, New York,
Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine). 2*
If this shall represent the current
Mercedes quality - we all still have in mind other disasters like the
A-Class failing the Moose-Test etc. pp., haven`t we? -
I can hear the competition
laugh out loud!
Freightliner Sprinter Mercedes Engineering
Average earnings per member of the boards per year:
((Figures in Euro: German car magazine "Auto Motor
und Sport", May 2001
DM and Dollar figures by MBSPY: Exchange rate Euro to DM
is fixed at Euro 1 = DM 1,95583,
Exchange rate Euro to US Dollar at Euro 1 = 0,8939
Dollar as of May 4th, EZB, Frankfurt, Germany))
For that lot of money MB buyers can expect the
members of the DC board do their jobs and care for MB quality.
In March 2002 German car magazine "Auto Motor und Sport"
interviews Mercedes chief Juergen Hubbert.
The interview was done by editors Bernd Ostmann and
Car maker from Stuttgart against the trend wants to
Mercedes-chief Juergen Hubbert about the myth
Maybach, continuing bad economical outlooks and the sharpening debate
about quality problems at Mercedes
Below is an excerpt translated word-by-word by MBSPY:
||But especially measured on its function of a
lifestyle-oriented family vehicle the Vaneo hardly meets the
||I do not understand your objection. What do you have
to complain about?
||The quality demand on the marque Mercedes according
to our tests is not met, for example with the interiour, the love for
detail with the build quality, with noise - and seating-comfort.
||The Vaneo is a commercial vehicle. You have to
compare it with the right vehicles from the competitors.
||There was some trouble about supposed quality faults
at Mercedes in the last weeks. Do you have a problem?
||No, not at all. Fact is that with the TUEV-report
about the fault-dwarfs we lie significantly in front of all competitors
from the premium class. When I read the statistics read as it is, the
SLK in this statistc as best Mercedes lies on twelfth position. Before
this background it is decisive no main competitor with any model is
placed under the first 50.
(Remark by MBSPY: Fault-dwarfs mean the cars with the lowest number
||But especially in the US-market, which is important
for you, at the time being reports about quality faults at Mercedes do
accumulate. Cited is the subsidiary of a US magazine which certifies
Opel a higher quality than Mercedes.
||In this case someone has tried to increase
circulation at our expense and even dubiously worked and dubiously
researched. A criterion which has only limited expressiveness for
quality was picked out from a study. In this study it is researched what
the customer experiences in the first 15 weeks after having purchased a
new car. It is about appearing faults, for example what he does not
like. Of course a Mercedes customer has a different demand on his car
than a Opel buyer. But this important fact did not interest anybody and
the way I see it was deliberately negated.
||Is the quality-theme generally a problem of
||Yes, with our customers and as well as also with us.
The customers pay much money for a model from Mercedes-Benz. As far as
that is concerned they are entitled to a high-quality car. Therefore we
constantly and with greatest priority devote us to this theme. But we
have always done that. I take criticism from any direction very serious,
but I will not allow that an unjustified problem is created from that.
||Do you fear the continuous bad news which Chrysler
produces hurt the image of Mercedes-Benz?
||I do not have this impression. I am sure every car
driver very well knows to distinguish between Mercedes-Benz and the
situation of Chrysler on the American market.
||Which influence has the enhanced arrival of
electronics especially in the upper class on thr quality discussion?
Here after all lie significant sources of errors.
||No question, this aspect is important. The influence
of the electronics is a factor. Mercedes-Benz is in the same quandary as
the other manufacturers: It is constantly demanded from us to enhance
secutity and intelligence of our products. When we meet this wish, the
exuberant influence of electronics is being flagellated.
End of interview excerpt from German car magazine "Auto
Motor und Sport"
In the same issue Bernd Stegemann, editor of the car
magazine writes about the new E-Class W211:
"The quality convinces. That again is another
Mercedes, like it has to be".
|And in the evaluation table of the car "Auto Motor
und Sport" says:
Body quality, functionality and high road safety
charcterize the new E-Class as well as the good handling.
Very good quality
And in the test "Auto Motor und Sport" writes:
"...Especially for the quality. The E 320 shows it with
a noticeable high body stiffness, fantastic detail quality and - one may
believe that without further proof - best possible crash behaviour,
which compared to the predecessor again was enhanced significantly.
But because quality also has much to do with optics,
deficits in this area were cleared by Mercedes. The interiour especially
in the tested Elegance line now absolutely gives this feeling of
high-quality which is adequate for a Mercedes. ..."
Translations by MBSPY
|And finally in the reader`s letters section this
letter from a German reader can be found:
The alarming result for Mercedes in your reader`s
activities image profile does really make you wonder? But not me. After
eight cars from Strichacht to the C-Class I´m increasingly dissatisfied
with the quality of finish and reliability. Example: Used C-Class bought
in October 2001 (20.900 km). Caused by defect on the airbag-system
in-time delivery was not possible. January 2002 (23.900 km) passenger
airbag faulty. Cost Euro 1207. Total time of use ten months. Caused by
the conditions of use of my car Daimler-Chrysler can offer no more
goodwill regulation. An airbag IST JA AUCH a in daily use highly
stressed part - but under customer service I actually do understand
MBSPY adds: Strichacht or /8 is the name for the
W114/115 middle-class series from 1968 until 1976.
reports on May 7th 2001:
DaimlerChrysler warranty costs rise
By Uta Harnischfeger in Frankfurt
Published: May 7 2001 19:58GMT |
Last Updated: May 7 2001 20:16GMT
DaimlerChrysler, the US-German carmaker, is suffering
from growing quality problems
at its Mercedes-Benz
luxury car unit that cost the
group about DM3.4bn (£1bn)
in warranty payments in 2000.
Warranty costs have risen
three-fold in two years.
The quality problems
coincide with the group's increasing
dependency on the German
luxury unit, as it struggles to restructure Chrysler and
Mercedes-Benz passenger cars
earned almost half of the group's E5.2bn (£3.2bn)
adjusted operating profit last
DaimlerChrysler declined to
comment on the cost figure, saying it was business-sensitive
information. But it said per-car
warranty costs had remained stable "on a comparative
basis". It added: "Competition
has intensified and there is a general trend to broaden
Warranty costs are those borne
by the carmaker to repair vehicles still under guarantee or
ex gratia. At about DM3.4bn, they
roughly equal Mercedes-Benz's development costs in
2000, a person familiar with the
company said. Mercedes-Benz spent DM2.3bn on
developing costs - excluding
research costs - and DM1bn on warranty and ex-gratia
payments in 1998.
Sales of Mercedes-Benz
passenger cars increased 14 per cent to 1.05m between 1998 and
2000. At the same time, two new
series were introduced, the A-Class subcompact and the
M-class sports-utility. People
familiar with the company say these have proved prone to
They mainly result from
growing pressures to shorten development times and save money in
the quality control process, the
DaimlerChrysler has set up
"quality circles" in all major divisions to tackle the issue. "There is
a flurry of activism with which
DaimlerChrysler is trying to get its quality problems under
rcontrol," said the insider. "You
can have thousands of perfect parts, but the art of building a
car still lies in its functioning
as a whole."
He added that DaimlerChrysler
had all but scrapped test-driving its new models in marathon
runs over tens of thousands of
Additional reporting by
Source URL as of May 7th 2001
reports ony May 8th 2001:
May 8, 2001
Mercedes-Benz warranty costs soar
May 8 - -
DaimlerChrysler is facing increased quality problems with its
car unit, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
resulted in nearly $1.5 billion in warranty payments in 2000 and
a threefold hike in
such costs in the past two years, the report said.
Part of the
problem, says a Financial Times source, is that Mercedes-Benz has
had multiple quality
issues with newer products, including the A-class
subcompact and the
According to the
source, many of the quality hiccups associated with
products result from growing pressures felt by the automaker to
times and cut quality control costs. For example,
stopped test driving its new models in multithousand-mile
marathon runs, the
for the German unit were roughly equal to development costs in
2000, the source
told the newspaper that as competition has intensified, it has
jumped aboard the
"trend to broaden warranty services." It maintains that costs
have remained stable
on a comparable basis.
Many thanks to Michael H. for pointing to the article!...Source
URL as of May 8th 2001
reports on May 8th 2001:
suffers quality woes'
Warranty costs surge as managers
cut development times
Last Update: 4:24 AM ET
May 8, 2001
FRANKFURT (FTMW) - DaimlerChrysler
(DE:710000: news, alerts) (DCX: news,
msgs, alerts) is plagued by growing
quality problems at its luxury car making
unit Mercedes-Benz that cost the group
€1.7 billion in warranty payments last
year, the Financial Times reported.
The stock dropped 1 percent to €56,
and was one of the biggest decliners in
Germany's benchmark DAX Index on
Tuesday. The shares have risen about
25 percent this year.
Warranty costs - the charges for
repairing vehicles still under guarantee - have
tripled in two years, the FT said,
citing people familiar with the Stuttgart-based
The problems at
Mercedes-Benz could not come at a worse time for DaimlerChrysler
chief executive Juergen
Schrempp, who is grappling with a wide-ranging revamp of
the ailing U.S. unit
Chrysler and loss-making Japanese affiliate Mitsubishi.
The world's fifth-biggest
carmaker, whose hulking Mercedes S-Class is the preserve of
German executives and politicians
alike, is more and more reliant on the luxury unit for
profits. Mercedes-Benz passenger
cars earned half the company's €5.2 billion of
adjusted operating profit last
DaimlerChrysler declined to
comment on the warranty cost figure, saying it was
the FT said. "Competition has intensified and there is a
general trend to broaden warranty
services," the company told the FT.
The newspaper reported that
the warranty costs were roughly equal to Mercedes-Benz's
development expenditure in 2000.
The overall increase in sales
of passenger cars and the introduction of the compact
A-Class and the M-Class sports
utility vehicle in the last two years have contributed to
the quality problems, the
For every M-Class sold, the
German company has to shell out almost €2,500 on
average for guarantee services,
the Financial Times Deutschland reported. That's a
record level for Mercedes-Benz,
it said. The tank-like M-Class sells for about €50,000.
Managers are under pressure to
cut development times and save money in the quality
control process, the FT reported.
The firm has set up "quality circles" in all major
divisions, such as development
and production, to tackle the problem, the paper said.
Taska Manzaroli is a reporter
for FTMarketWatch.com based in Berlin.
Source URL as of May 8th 2001
"The new SL 500 shows the body-perfection one expects
from Mercedes. One wishes such a high quality with all Mercedes series".
Bernd Stegemann, editor test & technics, German car magazine "Auto
Motor und Sport", October 2001 about the body of the SL R230
|In the article on page 32 in issue 23/2001 "Auto Motor und Sport"
"The eye wanders about the solid surrounding of wood
and leather, which not only because of the high-quality of these
materials but also because of the careful finish into the detail makes a
first-class impression. And that is Mercedes at its best, a quality feel
some series in the lower steps of the Mercedes-hierarchy lack in the
Translation by MBSPY
And in the judgement table in the article "ams" says:
Body very good quality