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 Fiction

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 Associates

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 Associates.

Consumer Reports

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 "Below-average reliability."

Car and Driver Magazine

In the December 2004 edition, Car and Driver magazine rated the 2004 LS 430 the Fist Place winner for luxury cars. 

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? 

Automobile Magazine

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.

Lexus Service

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 at HYPERLINK:

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 speed gauge.

air cleaner.


Best air cleaning system and how it works

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.,1284,1304,00.html

Flagship.  Eji Toyoda and top brass at Toyota drive this.  There is not another Lexus model I would own.

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 organization.

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. Certification Testing 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, wrong?

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"? Or,

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 criteriato distinguish

only the finest automobiles commonly available. Ten

were promoted to the second phase of evaluation,

Comparative Vehicle Assessment (CVA®) Testing.

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 the

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.)


Banish bias.



Expel expediency.

Dismiss delusions.


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 quality."

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 decibels. Shhhhh.


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All stuff after this from:

MBSPY on MB Quality Gone Downhill
For the latest update from March 24th 2003 click here


..... Articles from German AutoBild, British Autocar, MBSPY editor,
Financial Times, Automotive News and CBS Marketwatch
Plus a DaimlerChrysler Press Photo

Translation of an article from a comparison test between Mercedes-Benz S 400 CDI, BMW 740d and Audi A8 3.3 TDI from German car magazine "Auto Bild", March 2001

Quality Comparison


  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 A8 (below) Unkind: Cup holder with plastic tabs in the center console. In the A8 by contrast lovingly constructed: Steel hinge, alu bases (below) 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 AutoBild/Uli Sonntag.
Translation and page headline by MBSPY.

Still in 2003 DaimlerChrysler has severe quality problems
Pictured on the left is the hood/fender of the 100.000+ Euro CL 65 AMG.
For the article about the car click here

Photo copyright: DaimlerChrysler 2003



           reports on February 24th 2002:



            Luxury Limbo Rock: How Low Can Benz Go?

              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 $25,615.

              Aimed at young buyers who could never have afforded a new Mercedes
              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 consumer."

              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 buyers were
              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 delivery vans
              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 luxury
              In this country, image counts, and the C230 coupe has not received the royal
              treatment. Automobile magazine dared to compare it with a $25,000
              Hyundai XG 350. The Hyundai, made in South Korea, held its own.
              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 quite
              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 brakes; electronic
              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 look youthful,
              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 of which

              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) five-speed automatic
              transmission. The shifts on the automatic, which allows for manual gear
              shifting, were abrupt. I did not drive a car equipped with the standard
              six-speed manual, but I do not have fond memories of other sloppy
              Mercedes six-speeds. The company says this one has been improved.

              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 front-drive hatchback
              that delivers many more smiles for thousands of dollars less.

              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 research
              association, which measured durability during the first three years of
              ownership, ranked half a dozen Toyotas ahead of the highest-rated
              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 subsidiary.

              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 100 Mercedes
              vehicles, compared with 173 problems for Lexus, which has been ranked
              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 they pose
              risks for a company with a century-old reputation for automotive superiority.


           Original URL as of February 24th 2002:
           Photo copyright: New York Times

  reports on February 4th 2002:
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, February 4, 2001, Page B1

Mercedes Brand Fares Badly In Survey of Auto Makers

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 rankings.

"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 relatively steady.

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 snag.
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 £10k hatchback..."


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. 1*

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!

1* Source: Freightliner Sprinter Mercedes Engineering
2* Source: Freightliner Sprinter Hot News

Average earnings per member of the boards per year:
Company Euro DM US Dollar
DaimlerChrysler 4.100.000 8.030.000 3.660.000
BMW 1.300.000 2.540.000 1.160.000
VW Group 2.000.000 3.910.000 1.790.000
Porsche 2.000.000 3.910.000 1.790.000

((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 Frank Volk.

Car maker from Stuttgart against the trend wants to grow

Mercedes-chief Juergen Hubbert about the myth Maybach, continuing bad economical outlooks and the sharpening debate about quality problems at Mercedes

cover ams 0702
"Noone in front of us"
Below is an excerpt translated word-by-word by MBSPY:
Question:.. But especially measured on its function of a lifestyle-oriented family vehicle the Vaneo hardly meets the Mercedes-standard
Hubbert: I do not understand your objection. What do you have to complain about?
Question:.. 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.
Hubbert: The Vaneo is a commercial vehicle. You have to compare it with the right vehicles from the competitors.
Question:.. There was some trouble about supposed quality faults at Mercedes in the last weeks. Do you have a problem?
Hubbert: 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 of faults)
Question:.. 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.
Hubbert: 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.
Question:.. Is the quality-theme generally a problem of increased expectations?
Hubbert: 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.
Question:.. Do you fear the continuous bad news which Chrysler produces hurt the image of Mercedes-Benz?
Hubbert: 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.
Question:. 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.
Hubbert: 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.

High-class interiour
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 something different.

Reinhold Erdel
90513 Zirndorf

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 to £1bn
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 year. 

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 services." 

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
quality problems. 

They mainly result from growing pressures to shorten development times and save money in
the quality control process, the person said. 

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 kilometres. 

Additional reporting by Guido Reinking 

Source URL as of May 7th 2001

reports ony May 8th 2001:

May 8, 2001

Report: Mercedes-Benz warranty costs soar

May 8 - - DaimlerChrysler is facing increased quality problems with its
Mercedes-Benz luxury car unit, the Financial Times reported Tuesday. 

Quality problems 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 M-class sport-utility.

According to the source, many of the quality hiccups associated with
Mercedes-Benz products result from growing pressures felt by the automaker to
shorten development times and cut quality control costs. For example,
DaimlerChrylser has stopped test driving its new models in multithousand-mile
marathon runs, the source claims.

Warranty costs for the German unit were roughly equal to development costs in
2000, the source says.

DaimlerChrysler 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. 

--Automotive News

Many thanks to Michael H. for pointing to the article!...Source URL as of May 8th 2001

reports on May 8th 2001:

'DaimlerChrysler suffers quality woes' 
Warranty costs surge as managers cut development times

By Taska Manzaroli,
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.

Limo go

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 year. 

DaimlerChrysler declined to comment on the warranty cost figure, saying it was
business-sensitive information, 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.

Quality street

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 newspaper said.

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 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" writes:

"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 youngest past".
Translation by MBSPY

And in the judgement table in the article "ams" says: Body very good quality

Some more links for Mercedes-Benz drivers concerned about quality:  Contributions are welcomed anytime, email

Customer problems with MB production quality control   aka
List all models button gives 1.27 MB of data

Problemas con Mercedes-Benz  by Andrés Kopylow reporting his own problems 
(in Spanish language, the links for the photos are broken, but you can view them by right-clicking on their space on the page and then choose  View Image)