I have heard from different sources (here and car magazines) saying that newer MBs, W202 and over, were developed/produced with a more rigid budget than before. They said earlier MBs were developed with a more liberal budget and then given a price. This is why the late SL was said to be the last of the true MBs. Also that is why you see such a big difference in quality between the W124 and the next generation E ('96-'02). Anyhow, I still prefere an MB
over other cars in the market. Perhaps I am biased by my background (IE/Human Factors/Usability), but I strongly believe MBs are very well desiged cars, and contained many well thought features with a strong concern for the users. I just don't see this in most cars.
On a side note, my father works at a Rolls/Bentley dealer and says a lot of the new models have to be fixed right off the boat, and all sorts of stuff goes wrong.
"Other above-average five-year quality improvements include American Isuzu (39%), Mitsubishi Motor Sales (38%) and DaimlerChrysler (27%)." J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Initial Quality StudySM