I have a collection of old car magazines that I was goig through
recently to see if any of them were uninteresting enough to toss out.
(Another wife directed activity to make moving and organization
easier.) I ran accross a magazine(I think it was automobile magazine
with the 'new beetle' on the cover.) It had a review of the new 96 E
class, and basically their conclusion was about as close to saying
"just buy a used Mercedes before you buy one of these." as you can get
without explicitly saying it. They cited build quality, material
selection, stability at speed, cruising speed comfort, and many other
things. I have also heard that the generation ending in 95 is more
reliable than the one starting in 96 from a few people online.
Although I'm not always quick to latch onto those opinions from
individual owners like the opinions are facts or the owners experts. I
haven't bothered asking a person with extensive experience with both
since I am happy with my 123. It almost goes without saying but I'll
say it anyways... Whichever way you decide, make sure to research what
specific problems each generation has and check any potential car for
those possible problems.