On 12/31/07 I traded my 2001 Volvo S80 in on a new '08 M-B C300. I hated
that Volvo so much that I'll never buy another one.
It's not that M-B doesn't use plastic --- heck, all car makers do these
days --- but all five of my previous Mercedes cars were good solid machines
and after 10 months usage it's pretty obvious that this new one is too. The
Volvo? I never could say that.
One little example (certainly not all, that'd be too time consuming): The
external door window surrounds on the Volvo featured a sort of
pebble-grained blackout decal finish. A pure styling gimmick. It provided
a little visual interest when contrasted against the body color. When new
it was not offensive to look at. It wasn't actually a decal but probably a
piece of plastic film that was heat-set over the door sheetmetal. After 2
years however it began to degrade and by the time the car was 3 years old it
had weathered and blistered and wrinkled and cracked in numerous places on
all 4 doors. Not warrantable, so there was no help from Volvo as far as the
cost of repair was concerned. In desparation I asked my idiot Volvo dealer
how much it would cost me for him to just put the car in his body shop and
bring it back to "as new" condition. You know what he said? "We don't do
that kind of stuff here but you could take it to a body shop and probably
have them repaint it with a matte finish."
Thanks a lot Mr. Volvo but I expect more from the car manufacturers I do
business with. Now I know Volvo products do not meet my expectations in any
number of ways and the company behind them makes too many compromises in the
design and manufacture of its cars. For instance - they certainly knew how
that crummy plastic sheet would age and they knew it would detract from the
car at some future point but they decided to go cheap anyway. Their
internal philosophy must be "Build it cheap - sell it high". That's a
lesson I'll remember when it's time to replace my '02 AMG CLK430 in a year
or two. Volvo won't get a shot at me.
The new C300 is in about the same price category as the S80 Volvo - maybe
cheaper when you adjust for inflation - but I've looked at it pretty close
and, specifically, I looked at the door window surround treatment. On the B
Pillar the rear part of the front door and the forward part of the rear door
have a shiny black plastic cover. But in the case of the M-B it is a lot
thicker at will not be subject to blistering or wrinkling like the thin
sheet Volvo used. I'm convinced the decision to use this type of material
probably added a buck or two to the cost of the car and it was almost
certainly discussed before the final decision to lock in the specs and build
the car was made. M-B bit the bullet and decided to go ahead with it
because the car was going to have a 3-pointed star on the hood. Many other
fit & finish items likewise give the impression that they'll age well and
still look and feel good years in the future.
One thing I defininitely miss though, is chrome bumpers. I know these
hydraulic things with plastic covers they call bumpers these days are all
the rage from the standpoint of car builders and there's probably a case to
be made about improved aerodynamics but I'm not convinced they're a nickle
better than the old stuff. Another thing I miss is real glass headlight
lenses that don't get sandblasted and pockmarked and turn grayish brown in
PS - I'm going to post pictures of both my cars on
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