W211 estate buying advice needed

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Troon, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. Troon

    Troon Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Morning team. As I mentioned in my new member welcome post, we're looking at getting a used W211 E-Class estate in the near future. The "competition", which I think the wife prefers at the moment, is a Ford S-MAX. We've always driven Fords as I used to work for them, and she has two problems with the Merc:

    a) she's not yet sold on the idea of a massive estate;
    b) she grew up in Handsworth in the late 70s / early 80s, where you didn't want to mix with the people that were rollin' in Benzes... :rolleyes:

    Anyway, that's my hurdle to get over. Here's what I think I'm looking for and why. Please feel free to comment on my assumptions, which are based on reading around rather than any real experience. If you think I'm wrong on any point, feel free to tell me!

    We have an aging (04) C-MAX and a more aging Mondeo (52-plate, approaching 150k miles). We have three kids (10/7/2); neither car is big enough for a family holiday, and we are looking to spend no more than £13-15k. I want to replace the Mondeo with:

    W211 estate: big enough for the kids and all our stuff. Eldest child no longer needs child seat, won't be long before middle child also doesn't need one. Lower than an MPV, makes roof box and bike carrier loading easier, and better aerodynamics. Standard self-levelling rear suspension is a bonus given the varying loads it'll be carrying.

    Facelift version: allegedly much improved versus the earlier W211. This means that for our budget, we'll be looking at fairly high-mileage early facelifts (56/07-ish, 50k miles +).

    E220 CDI: whilst my heart would like a V6 and the 7-speed auto, the car will be my 100-mile-per-day commuting wagon so fuel economy is very important. I don't need masses of power and torque: the 170PS of the facelift 220CDI should be ample, even if we end up getting a caravan.

    auto: I like good automatics in big cars like this, and understand the 5-speed auto is good, strong and reliable; and that the 6-speed manual is not a well-regarded 'box.

    COMAND sat-nav: we "need" an aux-in (iPod, DVD player), and understand this is the only way to get one (true?). Bit irritating, as we don't need the integrated sat-nav, and having this option will contribute to the price of the car.

    7-seat: only a nice-to-have rather than a must. Presumably this is not easy/cheap to retro-fit due to the seatbelts and the related trim pieces.

    I prefer the trimming and stance of the Avantgarde and don't want the plastic steering wheel of the Classic. Are the AG standard xenons significantly better than the halogens of the Elegance?

    Any other comments or advice? Does this choice of car really make sense over an S-MAX, which for the same money could be newer and better specced?

    I'd appreciate any objective input.
     
  2. developer

    developer MB Club Veteran

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    Hello Troon,

    Leaving aside the capabilities of the cars, a Ford is a Ford.

    I look out of my window and see a Merc on the drive - it's a great feeling, that I suspect you may feel more strongly about that your good lady.

    It's hard to explain to "non believers, but it's a tangible feeling.

    If you appreciate what I'm saying then you'll appreciate the Merc.

    Just don't show her the pictures of mine or she'll be back on Radnor Road (in her mind anyway) in no time.

    Re Xenon's - yes, they are much better than halogens.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
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  3. SPX

    SPX MB Club Veteran

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    With all due respect, comparing the S-Max to a S211 E-Class isn't fair. Although I suspect this is down to your differing choices more than anything else.

    MPG figures; Mercedes, up until recently, seem to have this knack of making engines of differing sizes that do very similar miles per gallon. My V6 E320 cdi would do about 45ish mpg on a 100 mile commute, this drops to 30-35 round town.

    COMAND is much more than just sat-nav, it's the 'brain' of the entertainment/sound system in your car. The sat-nav is only part of that.

    Mileage; through the years whenever Mercedes have had different problems, one thing has remained strong- the engines. My car has 132k on the clock and it doesn't miss a beat; at this mileage, it's just getting into it's stride. The E220 that you are thinking of is the same engine in the Vitos and Sprinters....

    Trim; go for the avantgarde, most you see will be anyway.

    7 seats; I purposefully went after one because we also have three children. After the novelty factor of travelling backwards had worn off, we ver, very rarely use them. Saying that, it's still good to know that they're there.
     
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  4. OP
    OP
    Troon

    Troon Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I wasn't suggesting they were equivalent, merely that they were two possible solutions to my problem of not having an sufficiently large vehicle.

    Autocar compared the W212 estate and the S-MAX (new rather than used) in the 9 June 2010 issue for exactly the same reasons, and decided that they were both perfectly acceptable and valid choices; and that they'd take a 4-cylinder diesel E instead of the S-MAX, but it was close.

    I'd like to think I'm immune to the "prestige" argument - I'm considering practicalities only, although quietness and comfort are amongst those practicalities.

    Thanks for your comments!
     
  5. developer

    developer MB Club Veteran

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    In that case, I'd go for the S Max, with it being newer. They are great cars, and the higher driving position is a bonus.

    Merc owners know why they buy them and if you don't "feel it" then I'd go for competent blandness.
     
  6. corned

    corned Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Having some from a Peugeot 406 2.1TD estate (perfectly competent car, by the way) to an E320CDI estate, for much the same reasons as you quote, I was amazed that the fuel economy was barely any different between the two cars in practise.

    My reasons for choosing the M-B was purely on interior load space. Brand had nothing to do with it. In fact, the brand was what counted against it, having had family members who have had very bad experiences with M-B in the recent past.

    The Pug was an I4 2.1TD manual, the E320 a I6 3.2TD auto and almost exactly twice the max BHP, and about half as much weight again. I can still scrape very close to 50mpg with it when I try.

    There are some lovely touches with it, and some very annoying ones too. It's as if M-B were trying a bit too hard to be clever on the odd occasion.

    I suspect you will get more for your money initially with the S-Max, but expect the residuals to be worse.

    You will probably also find that servicing and tyres will be cheaper with the S-Max than the E-Class, so don't just compare mpg figures. Whole ownership costs can look quite different!

    The S-Max is a very competent and versatile car, so you won't hear me knocking it. Personally I hate a high driving position, which is why I would never entertain an MPV or SUV. You will however, not get anything like the same refinement from the S-Max. The E-Class is a very 'classy' place to be. The interior is quiet, and the quality of the materials wins every time.

    Best to actually try them back to back and see what you and your missus think. Better than the opinion of strangers on the internet!
     
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  7. Mr E

    Mr E Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I've just come back from the annual jaunt to the south of France (via the Vendee this year)...

    1. 4 Adults (well, the 16-yo is bigger than everyone else) and a 10-yo carried in comfort with only slight niggles when I pushed for more than 3 hours between breaks.

    2. 5-up, with a bootful and a roofbox returned just under 45 mpg at an average 75mph on the motorways.

    3. I can get out and walk normally after 250 miles or more, which I can't do in any other car I've driven.

    Mine's an 08 S211 E220 Avantgarde - xenon's are a great improvement over the standard halogens. It's very easy to live with and economical for the size too - we live in the sticks and most of our running around is lanes or town work and consumption averages out to high 30's.
     
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  8. fredT

    fredT Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    if you dont need the 2 extra seats, you buy the e every day of the week.

    the smax is a great car (i test drove one at the weekend). it feels solid and robust and is nice to drive.
    however coming back in my c class just reiterates the class difference, much better attention to details and use of nicer materials. its the small things..

    also the rear seat in the smax is horrendous so if your planning on spending any time back there its a definate no go.
     
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  9. PXW

    PXW Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I suspect the real win for the merc in the calculation will be the longevity. Compared to fords, mercs will do massive mileage without problem. You mention your current mondeo has approaching 150k on the clock; there are members here with 211s well in excess of that and who say they are as taut as ever. I bought mine with 32k on the clock. It now has 83k on, and then engine if anything is now better than when I bought it. It has the feel of a car that will do 150-200k without any real problem, and when your depreciation is spread over that sort of number, the economics start to tilt towards Mercedes.

    I wouldn't worry about the MPG for your commute when looking at 220 v 280/320 CDi. I doubt there will be a massive difference in real world driving, especially if you are not inclined to use the loud pedal too much. We had a gentle (70-80mph) drive round the M25 yesterday, and without trying at all the car gave over 40mpg.
     
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  10. PXW

    PXW Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Sorry, meant to add - we have the extra seats in the boot, which are very good and occasionally very useful, in our case for ferrying grandkids etc. but not exactly everyday essentials. However, we also have the built in booster seats on the rear bench - these are simply wonderful, and well worth hunting out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  11. prprandall51

    prprandall51 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Not sure why so many people say to get the facelift version of the E-Class??

    The major improvement came in 2004 when they shut the production line for two weeks to fix a shed load of real problems in the early cars. Most notable was the move back to having the wiring loom installed by a human instead of a robot. At the time, they fixed a large number of hidden electronics systems that were causing warranty claims.

    By going for a car after that date you are also 100% assured of getting one with full galvanisation.

    The facelift in 2006 (?) was big on cosmetic changes (new nose, changes to the lights) but what was so important in that change from a reliability point of view?
     
  12. gIzzE

    gIzzE MB Club Veteran

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    Can't be bothered to read the rest, but from that opening sentence one thing is certain.
    You haven't driven them!!


    Drive them both and I think you'll answer your question.




    Seriously, our best friends have an S-Max, it is nice enough and quite practical but no where near the W211 as an overall package.
     
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  13. prprandall51

    prprandall51 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    But the OP asked a perfectly valid question with a perfectly reasonable couple of options. Nobody here (including the OP) is under the impression that the two cars when both are new are comparable but in the second-hand market they are perfectly comparable as a place to spend a fixed budget. It's not as if the OP is even asking whether he should consider an E Class or a Lotus Elise (both can be bought for the same budget); the two cars under consideration are pretty evenly matched in terms of function.
     
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  14. gIzzE

    gIzzE MB Club Veteran

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    A bottle of Meths will get me just as ****** as a bottle of Nuits St Georges Premier Cru.

    However, one I would enjoy drinking.
     
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  15. prprandall51

    prprandall51 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Well, if you think that the gap between a modern Ford and a modern MB is as broad as that then you certainly haven't driven a Ford recently - or (more likely) you have massively rose-tinted spectacles on when you look at your E-Class.

    Secondly, I could ask you why you aren't driving a Bentley? One can be bought for less money than a decent used E-Class and it is a hell of a lot better car.
     
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  16. A210AMG

    A210AMG MB Club Veteran

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    I like the S max, the newish ones with the pano roof look smart, I'm supprised not enough room? it looks more van like than the e class...

    Saying that.... Our S211 (e class estate) is great, We have recently returned from France and roof box, bikes on towbar rack and boot full we were getting 42mpg. For a car that can do 155mph and 60 in around 7.5 seconds thats pretty good !!

    Even towing we have 28mpg the most I have ever got from a tow car.

    Ours is a E320Cdi and although the E220cdi is 'probably' ok it's unlikley to do much more mpg? the spec is generally higher on the bigger engined models and you get 6 cylinders :)

    If your going to be annoyed everytime you see a 320 you might as well go for that at the start :)
     
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  17. SPX

    SPX MB Club Veteran

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    In short,

    If you appreciate cars and would like something well built and good to drive, yet will be slightly older, buy a Mercedes.

    If you are after something as new as possible for the money and you aren't too concerned with an involving drive; buy the Ford.

    For a budget of £15k the E-Class beats the S-Max by a mile. And yes, I've driven a fair few Fords in my time, at the minute I've got an 08 plate Mondeo in. It's a very good car, better than a Passat, but not as good as a W204.
     
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  18. developer

    developer MB Club Veteran

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    "I'm out" was much easier.......;)
     
  19. SPX

    SPX MB Club Veteran

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    I couldn't help myself......
     
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