? premium fuel really needed in 1997 420E

My previous 1986 300E pinged like mad under load when I did not use premium gas. My present 1997 420E runs fine on regular fuel and I have never heard it
ping when under load. I assume the knock sensor on 420E kicks in to retard the ignition. Apart from decreasing my 0-60 time on acceleration is there any real harm in using regular octane fuel? The dealer told me that in the U.S. South there was "bad" regular gas and hence MB advised using higher octane!!!! The handbook talks about damage to catalytic converter(? incomplete combustion of gasoline) if regular fuel is used.
Any feedback appreciated. Gerry
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IMHO an engine with a 10:1 compression ratio really needs 92 octane fuel, especially in hot weather when preignition will occur more easily, to run as it was designed to do. Allowing the knock sensors to retard the ignition reduces the engine's power from designed levels.
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