I no longer have access to it but I don't remember the 2002 E-Class Owner's manual saying anything other than to do what the FSS system tells you to do. I don't think it described any technical details nor said to follow any time line.
One of the major concerns I have about buying a new Mercedes is this approach to maintenance. Mercedes have clearly implemented it because they want to keep the costs of so-called free maintenance to a minimum.
I much prefer the Lexus approach where they tell you to bring it in every 5K or 6 months, whichever comes first. Of course you pay for it but if you think about it, all you get from Mercedes is three oil changes, an air filter and one cabin filter. I believe Mercedes pay US dealers about $35 for an oil change so you see that all this free maintenance costs MB USA is about $200 or less.
BMW pays for all maintenance items. What that means is they pay for the same things MB pays for plus one set of front brake pads. Call it $300 in free maintenance. This is easily recouped by raising the price of the car.