While other manufacturers have their own versions of modern safety tech, I've never seen it used as thoroughly across the lineup of cars as I do with Mercedes.
I bought a Mercedes for only one specific reason: It's very credibly the safest car I can put my family in that is also fun to drive. The safety tech on a commonly equipped Mercedes today is what you'll see on all cars in 5-10 years. Things like active blind spot assist -- If there's a car in my blindspot and I try to change lanes into it, the car will use the brakes on the leading side of the car to nudge me back into my lane. And active lane keeping assist -- it applies that same tech to prevent me going left of center if it thinks I'm drifting and not doing it intentionally. Attention assist -- it tracks my driving style and engagement and alerts me if I'm drifting off. Not to mention, just a lot of smart tech: Apply the brakes ever so slightly when it's raining to keep them dry. Seatbelt pretensioner's. And structural things -- an extra firewall in the engine compartment. More, stronger clasps on the hood. Many of these features are found on other makes. But as a package, combined with a fantastic 7 speed automatic and turbo charged 8cl engine, Mercedes sells a wonderful car.
Please excuse me for being such a fanboy!!!
Those cars are still a little beyond my grasp -- I had a C and now a CLS -- but the wonderful thing about this tech is watching it trickle down from the top of their range down through the $32,000 C Class.
By responsiveness, I mean it takes only a light touch on the steering wheel to move it at low speeds, and a light touch on the throttle to get an impressive feeling of power.
They have a lot of steering lock, which means that you can turn the wheels pretty far to the left or right, allowing the car to be very maneuverable for it's size.
As for power - well, my daily driver is a 76 Toyota Corona. The Corona has the same smooth, comfortable ride as a Benz, but boy does it ever take a while to get moving, and it's very hard to maneuver at low speeds, like in parking lots.
My other vehicle is an 83 Kawasaki GPZ 305 - a very small displacement motorbike. It's very torquey, and from a standing start it can get up to highway speed very fast.
But once you're at highway speed, that's about as fast as it's going to go. If you find yourself riding abreast of an erratic driver in the lane beside you, with someone else behind you, you might want to accelerate away from them. As quick as the motorbike is at low speeds, it will take more seconds that you would like to drop the car beside you at highway speed.
In the benz, you can tap the pedal and pass like the other cars are standing still. And it still gets going from a standing start faster than most other cars on the road.
For the record, the car I'm thinking of when I say "the benz" is a current C300, or maybe a C63.
Some people describe a car to be fun to drive when the performance of the vehicle matches their preferences. That is why you have a segment that enjoys Ford Mustangs for their straight-line acceleration (and calls them fun to drive), and you also have another segment that enjoys the Mazda Miata for its sport-tuned suspension, short tranmission gearing (which allows the engine to stay on the powerband with less effort), and low weight (and also calls them fun to drive).
There are a thousand different ways that a car can be fun to drive. Some are not even related in any way to the actual car, but to the sentimental value that the owner puts on the vehicle.
The most fun to drive car I've ever had was a sub-compact that barely had eighty-eight horsepower. Yet it did not consume much fuel. Such attibute pushed me to find how far I could go before needing to refuel. That alone made the car fun to drive.
The Mercedes owner above values the rich set of features that his vehicle has. He seems to enjoy knowing that his vehicle is highly equipped to whithstand and accident, and is even able to reduce the chances of one actually happen. Plus I bet he loves driving past store windows, and see himself driving such a fine automobile. I know I would. =)
I think you meant subjective ;)
The more languages one speaks, the less one speaks one.
I like fountain pens. I process using a good steel or gold nib as a sensual satisfaction similar in degree (although not kind) to a good backscratch. Some pens are fun to write with. Some ... .
I have a 2000 Mustang GT.
If you punch the throttle you hear a monster come out of the engine and set you back in your seat, you get this interesting feeling in your chest as you rapidly gain speed, and when you finally let off, the strangest thing happens: you smile.
Cars that are 'fun to drive' for me (and it's a very subjective thing) are cars where I feel like I am a part of the car. As a driver, I'm encased in the vehicle. It does what I tell it to, how I tell it to do it. It can take corners just as fast as I like them; and I can feel the g's inside the corner.
tl;dr: I feel like I am the car
Basically, the car should "feel" responsive. When you change what you are doing (i.e. accelerating) it should respond with a lot of gusto. The trick is, not doing this when the driver doesn't want it.
But when you think about the fact that most people only drive a few cars in their lifetimes, and the first couple cars are something like a Honda Civic or a Mazda Protege, the first experience with a fine German automobile is going to be anything but bland.
Most people get new vehicles every five or ten years - I get a new car or bike every couple of months (I'm not rich, I just buy cheap and flip them for various reasons) and I worked at a dealership, so I'm just as familiar with the flaws of Benzes as the strong points. You must have a similar experience. We're just spoiled, is all.
What have you had lately that you liked?
Similarly, you can usually pick up a Porsche Boxster for only around $10K once they hit the 50K miles mark, because Porsche recommends an expensive scheduled servicing at the 60K miles mark. I think it's about $12K. (In actuality the car doesn't need all the things they do in that service, just some subset.)
But still. It just offends me as an engineer that "better" cars have higher maintenance costs. If Mercedes is so much better at making cars than Honda, why can't it make cars that don't break? Honda makes cars that don't break. Why is the "best" car company out there unable to solve a technical problem that the "crappy" company solved twenty years ago?
Not trying to troll the Merc fanboys, it just gets my goat. I had basically given up on ever owning a nice car, because of sheer nerdrage, but I found out Honda's S2000 has a fantastic reputation for reliability. So that's my plan.
Please excuse the threadjack.
Mercedes and BMW had several years of severe quality control issues from, oh, late 90s to 2005-6. Not across every model, and not equally for both makes, but there's a lot of evidence of issues.
During that time, Honda and Toyota were making wonderfully reliable cars. But look at the recent toyotas.
Same story for American cars. The last few years Ford has been making cars w/ the fewest defects. But perception lags.
The good thing is, there are consumer reports and other agencies that track defects per 1000 cars. I've bought 2 Mercedes cars since 2007 and they both have ranked wonderfully on the consumer reports and, anecdotally, my ownership has been entirely free of defects.
I'm not sure what you mean about "4000 a year to maintain" a car that was brand new. Yes, I do have to have the oil changed yearly, and there are other maintenance tasks at normal intervals. But $4000 a year in maintenance on a Mercedes is fiction.
where the guy talks about spending $5K in one particular year, which appears to be the first year he had it.
likely an exaggeration on my part, mea culpa, but the reviews on that site are full of maintenance complaints:
it's entirely anecdotal but I had a friend who had two BMWs and both were constantly in and out of the shop. this was a long time ago, though. ymmv (literally).
Mini Coopers are cheap "premium" cars, in a sense that they are indirectly marketed as if they were mini BMWs (they are made by BMW), but they are just the equivalent of a volkswagen in terms of quality (which is pretty bad from professional experience). They are built using cheap parts, that are even too flimsy to even use (it is not an exageration, but actual experience).
Porsche is a brand that is driven by engineering, but engineering != reliability. Even though they have improved a lot in the last 5-6 years, they are not sold for their reliability, but for their performance. The Boxster is a specially good example of how not to build a cheap sports car when all you do is build premium sports cars. The best example of those shoddy quality of the Boxster (first generation) is the engine that self-destructed due to an improperly machined engine part (the case). Sadly, some 911 owners also got a bad engine with the 1999 model carrera equipped with the 3.4 engine (ddg it). The engine goes for about 12k when sourced from Porsche, not including installation.
Honda does not make cars that don't break. They have problems too. The Accord suffered from a defect in the engine block cylinders that cause it to warp the deck surface and thus make the car overheat (it required you to buy a new engine, because this was not serviceable).
The S2000 has a transmission made out of glass (not really, but you get my point(it is prone to failure on the first, second and third gear grear set)).
Mercedes does have the ussual electronic gremlic (just like most European cars), because they have extremely short development cycles, and you just can't test so much stuff at once (they ship a lot of buggy hardware, if you will). One of my favorites is the C240 Kompressor, which had a supercharged engine that blew up if you used a fuel that did not meet the octane requirements. Why didn't Mercedes just let the computer retard the ignition timing to compensate for the lack of octane? Wait, they did! They just didn't do enough of it (they did not test it throughly, and they also used parts that could not withstand a simple engine backfire ( a backfire is more lethal on cars that use supercharger or turbochargers, as it sends an explosion through the intake manifold (where the supercharger/turbocharger intake is)))(this comment looks like LISP code).
tl;dr: cheap parts, cheap engineering and cheap testing that derive from extreme cost-cutting measures make most brands out there a russian roullette. Good for mechanics, but bad for owners. Though with European cars, its as if you were playing Russian roullette with two bullets instead of one.
PS.If you do get the S2000, install a transmission oil cooler to extend the life of the tramsission components. The later years with the 2.4 engine had stronger transmissions, but a lower readline (and less peaky powerband (something people loved about the first generation (because it felt like a motorcycle/F1 engine))).
A lot of the stories I've heard about Mercedes Qc issues in the first part of the last decade is oil related. That in some case, they had issues when they first changed to an annual oil change maintenance spec using conventional oil. Then, perhaps on different engines, they had issues when advising a 12k or 15k interval (can't remember which) on synthetic.
Seems they learned from the mistakes around 2006-7 and from that point forward their maintenance spec is strictly syn (mobile 1) on a 10k, 1yr change interval.
I had oil analysis done on my last change, a 5.5l v8, which I ran for about 11k miles, and the results were very good. The oil probably had another few thousand miles life in it. Not that I'd push it, it was just good to know I didn't have sludge after 11k miles.
The engines had a coating applied to the cylinder walls that (theoretically) reduce frinction. Turns out the coating was a bad decision (it wasn't throughly tested (see a pattern?)), and they rolled back to their old way of building engines (which was pretty good).
I do think the 10k is not a problem with Mobil 1 synthetic. I've used that oil for about 15k on my own cars without complications.
If you want to learn more about the engine problems, you might want to ddg the words "mercedes benz nikasil".
Thought experiment: imagine the car as a sheet of glass. Think of yourself standing at position A and looking at a point X on the glass. You see a position A' behind the glass. Now imagine moving to a position B and looking at the same point X on the glass. You see a different position B'. The LEDs don't know if you are at position A or B, so they can't know whether to show the light from A' or B'.
It's still a great ad, and I enjoyed it. Some of the secondary press coverage is terrible though (PC World: "Mercedes makes invisible car, tricky to find where you parked it"; says that if the invisibility isn't perfect, it's because the LED sheet is too low resolution.)
I was already familiar with the concept, I remember reading about invisibility cloak prototypes in the early 2000s.
(in German -- sorry, no English translation available yet)
Honda R&D Americas has such a gas station in Torrence CA since 2001. I don't know if it's open to the public though. The one in Freiburg is public.
I see your point, but first of all, it would be a very big step ahead if all the vehicles in cities wouldn't have toxic emissions.
And second, shifting the "dirty" part from the vehicles to big factories possibly makes the process more optimizable.
I agree that other form of energy should be researched, but any step in this direction is better than nothing.
Hydrogen is better PR since at the car there are no emissions. So which to choose? Better PR or better for the environment?
You would need a built a whole new infrastructure, and existing one for natural gas would not work.
It doesn't really make things completely invisible, but it sure does seem like excellent camouflage.
The other side (pun intended) of this problem, though, is that you'd also want to capture imagery from as many perspectives as you planned on reproducing, which is a slightly more involved packaging issue. ;)
Here's some links, which should give you some idea of what the performance is like:
Am sure someone made a more advanced version of this after the James Bond film came out though. Lots of tiny cameras interleaved with led's covering the surface of the vehicle...
That would make the viable "invisible" view positions even more constrained than with the technique shown in the video.
If you did it anywhere in East Asia, you'd have a line (or what passes for a line) of thousands of people waiting to pose.
yes it's nothing new but it's still damn cool and gets people talking.
It's not quite the invisibility cloak yet.
I visited family in London this summer, and I was amazed by the efficiency of mass transit. Here in the States, I live in a suburb of a suburb of Orlando, and I can't get anywhere without having to drive 20 minutes. What a waste of both time and resources.
But point taken, probably not the best comparison to make.
But I'll agree with you that it is really easy to waste your marketing dollars on these commercials if the message isn't somehow making the viewer remember the brand. The ones that just celebrate the creativity of the ad firm ARE terrible; I just don't think this was an example of that.
Please tell me this isn't a paid spot - mercedes trying to infiltrate an early adopter set. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but that would compromise everything about HN that we love.
In fact to verify, you can watch the video yourself 5 times and see if the view count changes from 304.