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  #1  
Old 04-04-2005, 06:14 PM
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Review of my new E430 vs. my W124 124.032

I posted this in another thread, but had intended to start a thread of my own.

I've been planning on writing a post about this very subject. I've had the car for about 3 - 4 weeks now, but haven't put a lot of miles on it, yet, as I fly a lot on my job.

One thing that has been forefront in my thoughts is the quality issue. Everyone talks about the decline in quality with the W210 chassis. We all know that the 210's were the first that Mercedes ever designed to a specific price point, instead of a specific quality level and pricing the car accordingly.

My honest opinion is that the car has as high a level of quality as my W124 300E (3.2) "E320". It feels very different, though.

By different I mean that you can certainly feel the affects of Lexus on the minds of the engineers that desgned the W210 cars. Everything has been softened, damped, and quieted. The braking is more power-assisted. It takes a much lighter touch to stop the car. The accelerator pedal has a lighter spring. The pedal in my W124 car felt overly stiff. The steering is vastly different due to the new rack and pinion in place of the recirculating ball. It feels more like your typical Japanes car. It is also more power-assisted. Again, too much so in my opinion. The interior of the car is quieter. Engine noise and road noise is considerably muffled.

The suspension leaves much to be desired. It wallows like a whale. It is massively under-damped. Going over bumps is like being on a ship in a bad storm. It rocks back and forth so much that it gives me a feeling of seasickness. My W124 with Bilstein HD's was perfect in every respect: firm but not harsh, controlled by not skittish, and rode like a magic carpet on the freeway. Even my wife, she who doesn't even know when she is driving on a flat tire, notices the difference.

Interior-wise, I love the new instrument cluster and center stack housing the radio and HVAC controls. The instrument cluster is modern and very well-lit, and the digital HVAC controls and read-out are very welcome. The push buttons and rotary dial were a relic of the past IMHO, and should've done away with in the mid-seventies. Also, even though the exterior dimensions are with a couple of inches of each other, the back seat space in the W210 is dramatically larger than the W124. I can't describe the difference it is so great. It is like being in an S class car.

Body design is a draw. But if I have to choose one over the other, I'd choose the W124. I like the front-end / hood design of the W210 better, but overall, I prefer the classic lines of the W124. It is holding up well with time like all Mercedes. Time will tell how the W210 looks 10 + years from now.

To summarize, I guess I prefer the W210 over the W124 in many ways, but not all. While I still believe it is a high quality car like the W124, I believe Mercedes has taken a lot of the Mercedes out of the car. It has lost some of its "DNA". The 124's, like 126's, feel unique. There is nothing else that handles and feels quite the same. W210's, on the other hand, feel much like any other luxury car. In fact, one could say the Mercedes has "Lexified" the car.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".

Last edited by MikeTangas; 01-29-2006 at 10:00 AM.
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  #2  
Old 04-04-2005, 08:02 PM
Ta ra ra boom de ay
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Pittsburgh
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Thanks for that write up.

I really appreciate your effort to enlighten those of us who have no exposure to the 129, or any newer Mercedes, as a driver, as to the differences between the it and the 124.
It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that my 86 300E has not been left with nothing to offer

I have driven a series of late 70's & early 80's cars as daily drivers. (Toyota Landcruser -for about a month and a half, WV rabbit diesel -for 2 years, a string of bicycles, an 86' Toyota 4Runner, an 84 Toyota Cresseda, and finally the 86' 300E [while the wife drove the 96 Cammry Wagon and the 2000 Mazda MPV])

I have always loved something about all my cars... there own unique souls.
In each of them you could feel the make and model... its limitations, its specialty... made it a culture onto itself... something you could fall in love with.

Today’s cars have grown into androgynous children of wind tunnels and fast food cup sizing.

Don't get me wrong they are better at what they do in almost every respect dollar for dollar... depreciation aside... from there predecessors. But you end up with cars that all look alike and thump on your inner ear when you roll down a rear window at highway speed.

I like knowing what I'm driving. I'll put up with no cup-holder and although my engine is not as efficient as a newer car's I like seeing the nicely machined Finnish on the OE parts I have to take off and put on with such frequency.
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1986 300E 220,000 miles+ transmission impossible
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  #3  
Old 04-04-2005, 08:47 PM
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I quit even thinking about getting a 97 E420 when I heard about the spring perch problem. I had already quit thinking about an E430 when I heard how much the manufacturing cost of the 3 valves had been lowered compared to the 119s. I think the 124 is the end of the road for me - when it's done I'm done.
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  #4  
Old 04-04-2005, 08:53 PM
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Paul, Had a 97 E420 for a couple of years but ended up trading it for the SL. I did like the car and the more modern appointments to a degree. Don't think it came close to the 124 in quality and ease of repair though. When I got rid of it for the SL, it was starting to show rust in some hidden places, which disturbed me to no end. My TE has 104K on it now and have not seen a speck of rust on it yet,,,,, and that says a lot for this Pennsylvania climate. The 97 ran great though and I really think it would have cleaned the 400, but we never had a chance to find out. Simpler is better for climate controls as far as I am concerned, as the computerization of these cars is what is getting Mercedes in trouble right now. The front of the 210 was pure sex as far as I was concerned, but the 124's have a timeless styling that is still a head turner if you have a well cared for speciment. Whoever got yours will be very happy I'm sure.
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  #5  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:00 PM
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97 E420

I own one, and love it. Fast fun and very nice to drive.
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With best regards

Al

Check out the W114, W115 enthusiast website.
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  #6  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJG56
Whoever got yours will be very happy I'm sure.
Actually, a very long-term member here, JCE, bought it for his son. I let it go for $6,000.00.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #7  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deanyel
I quit even thinking about getting a 97 E420 when I heard about the spring perch problem.
Like you, I have read about the spring perch problem. I think it is very, very rare though, and should be easy to fix anyway.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #8  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deanyel
I had already quit thinking about an E430 when I heard how much the manufacturing cost of the 3 valves had been lowered compared to the 119s.
I actually prefer the M119 engine to the newer M112 / M113 3-valve per cylinder engines. Thus, I was initially leaning heavily toward the E420.

What ended up swaying me to buy an E430 was the inability to install the Command navigation in the E420. Steve Krabbenborg, of the MBenzNL.com website, does Command installations all over Europe and the U.S. I e-mailed him and he responded that the Command came out in 2000, but could be retrofitted back to 1998 models. It could not be installed in 1997 models.

He can also retrofit the 2000-2002 revised instrument cluster and steering wheels into 1998-1999 models, but not 1997 models.

Since I planned on doing all of the above if I bough a pre-2000 model, I ruled out the '97 E420.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".

Last edited by suginami; 04-04-2005 at 09:46 PM.
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  #9  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alabbasi
I own one, and love it. Fast fun and very nice to drive.
Yeah, I love the W210 E420's. They are faaaast.

I don't know exactly why....maybe due to the 5 speed transmission, but the W210 E420 seems exponentially faster than a W124 E420. I've driven both, and it doesn't even seem close.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".

Last edited by suginami; 08-06-2006 at 06:40 PM.
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  #10  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:40 PM
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Paul,
Thanks for the write-up. Congtrats as well.

How many miles are on the E430?

What is you opinion of the 4.3 relative to the 3.2?

Thanks,

Geoff
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  #11  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:44 PM
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suginami

On the ride issue, don't forget these cars are " ride -tuned ", for North American consumption/roads.
According to Europe, we like to glide over potholes & not spill our drinks while doing so.
Oh,........I see some suspension improvements coming soon.
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  #12  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deanyel
I think the 124 is the end of the road for me - when it's done I'm done.
Hey, I'm with you brother.

Don't get me wrong, I love my W210 and I plan to keep it for a long time. I've already done the Command install, and plan on doing the E55 AMG suspension to alleviate the excessive wallowing. Otherwise, I'll have to pop dramamine on a regular basis.

However, the W124 has much more of the classic Mercedes feel, and I plan to buy one again as a third car.

I'll probably get a W124 coupe or cabriolet, and tool around on the weekend, cruising chicks. Just kidding.... (as the wife looks over my shoulder).
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #13  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manny
suginami

On the ride issue, don't forget these cars are " ride -tuned ", for North American consumption/roads.
According to Europe, we like to glide over potholes & not spill our drinks while doing so.
Oh,........I see some suspension improvements coming soon.
You got that right!

E55 AMG suspension, here I come!
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #14  
Old 04-04-2005, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 104.992
Paul,
Thanks for the write-up. Congtrats as well.

How many miles are on the E430?

What is you opinion of the 4.3 relative to the 3.2?

Thanks,

Geoff
I was trying to avoid making the comparison as its just not fair. The V8 is so much faster than a six.

Both engines have a wonderful mechanical engine note. They love to rev.

I find that the 3.2 is more like the M119 4.2 liter engine - they are both slightly "peaky". You can feel that they really come alive higher in the rpm range.

And like the literature tells us, the M112 (or M113, I can't remember) V8 produces more torque lower in the rpm range. It is noticable.

It's no mistake that the W210 E420 goes 0-60 in 6.7 sec. and the E430 goes a half-second quicker to 60 at 6.2 seconds.

.....oh, and the car has about 72,000 miles on it.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".

Last edited by suginami; 08-06-2006 at 06:41 PM.
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  #15  
Old 04-04-2005, 10:42 PM
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JCE JCE is offline
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"Actually, a very long-term member here, JCE, bought it for his son. I let it go for $6,000.00"

And he is Lovin' it! He is likely to turn into an obsessive-compulsive now that he is in the MB fold - reading his owners manual, studying up on waxes, etc. (but there aren't many mods left for him to consider, thanks to Paul ). He had occasionally driven our 98 C230 (Koni sports, 16" wheels, Summer performance tires), and our 87 Sportlined 300E (Yoko ES 100s) before getting Paul's car, and had commented to me about the different feel between them. His comments were similar to Paul's comments above, and he has repeated them since he has been driving a 124 on a daily basis: basically, less convenience and creature comfort in the 124, but more 'soul' and feeling of solid construction.

He even noted the difference in sound between the sound of the hoods closing on the 3 cars. The 87 sounds like a bank vault closing. The C230 sounds solid, but with a bit of Toyota/Honda metalic clang. Paul's car sounds in between the two - closer to the 87 300E, but not quite as solid. Closing the hood on our 88 Acura Legend 5 spd coupe never sounded as solid as it's contemporary, the 300E - and the hood on the Acura had to be open WAY more often than the MBs hood, believe me.
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Old 04-04-2005, 10:42 PM
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