You may also inlcude the W140 as the epitome of MB engineering to a ridiculous degree, where it seems cost really was no object.
Well, I have a W124, and it feels as solid as a rock.
My mother has a 2000 E430, and it, too, feels just as solid.
Everyone seems to know that MB took a lot of cost out of their cars in the W210 model. Before, cost was of no concern to MB, but with the likes of Lexus and Acura nipping at their heels, I guess they started to worry about the cost difference between their cars and the Japanese, probably rightly so. It may be argued that a Lexus is simply a Camry in disguise, but consumers sure seem to have bought into the concept that Lexus is a luxury car on par with MB's.
I do feel that the dash materials in the W210 doesn't have the quality feel that my W124 has, but as far as the structure, I find it hard to notice a compromise in quality.
Just my .02 cents.
2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".