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Old 15th August 2011, 20:48   #1
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Default My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

The Mercedes Benz E220 W124 has been launched in India - a long time ago. The current E250 model retails for 47 lakh plus. This review, however, is for the 1997 model which can be cheaper!

What you’ll like:
  • Tank-like build, solid ‘thunk’ when the doors slam shut
  • India specific build items (more on these later)
  • Benz image
  • Quality of interior fittings
  • Performance (compared to the average car)
  • Space in the back, space in the boot
  • Ride quality
  • Star on bonnet is nice for aiming at things

What you won't:
  • Though reliable, fixing problems may be expensive - get to know a local specialist
  • It is wider than a Wagon R
  • Tough to know if you have driven over anyone as suspension is quite comfy
  • MPG is not in the league of latest diesels - about 8 kmpl in town (have not measured out of town but on highways it will be at least 2x this much)

Why??

I am a UK expat working in Bangalore. You might ask why I have an old (mature?) Benz. Let me explain...

As soon as I arrived I thought there were some top priorities for a car for me and my family:
  • The family (me, my wife and 2 teenage daughters) needs to fit comfortably
  • Seeing the traffic, I decided on some critical characteristics of the car:
  • Long crumple zones front and rear
  • Ability to smash through other cars/autos without getting too damaged
  • ABS brakes to avoid crazy drivers
  • In addition, a big boot, air conditioning, comfy chairs were also essential

These factors naturally lead to 2 possible contenders:
  • a Scorpio a few years old
  • an Innova a few more years old

Having been in a Scorpio a few times I found there was not enough legroom in the front (I am 6 foot 2) and I was a bit spooked by the voice telling me to have a nice trip.

All expats have an Innova and they are very expensive, I thought. So naturally I chose a W124 (that’s the model number) Benz from a very nice seller on Car Wale instead. It fulfilled all my requirements, in addition I had always wanted to drive one, and crucially it is not an Innova, so I would be able to find it in a crowded car park.

I drove a couple of examples and the one I chose was in fantastic condition, with only 35K kilometers on the clock. It had been used at weekends by a company director and had obviously been well cared for.

Overall impressions:

Having taken a bit of a risk, I am very happy with my purchase. It is great fun cruising about in a Benz, and I look forward to long trips whenever I get the chance (though I still find driving very stressful due to other drivers - how does everyone cope???)

So lets get going with some photos ( I am following the excellent format set by Stratos here ) :

Exterior Design & Build Quality

It definitely looks and feels like a proper Mercedes.

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-p1060238.jpg

This photo was taken at Avalabetta, about 20KM north of Chickbellapur. My car has the original alloy wheels. Tinted glass throughout, though not super-dark. Electric ORVM (which I eventually realize means outside rear view mirror!). It also has the funkiest wiper - a single blade that covers a large area because the blade moves outwards at each side and inwards towards the middle. Need to be careful not to get mesmerised by its action when it is raining.

Build quality is excellent, apparently this was one of the last ‘real’ Mercedes. It was assembled in India. The doors are heavy and slam like a bank vault. The indicators are a kind of smokey clear finish which I like.

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-p1040190-large.jpg

Side view with all windows open (that is not me by the way). Note extra ground clearance for Indian roads, which has been very much appreciated.

Side plastics are a nice colour and help to fend off two wheelers.

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-p1040187-large.jpg

Rear view - with ‘envelope’ boot. I can fit my mountain bike in there with the wheels and saddle taken off. Loads of space. This picture taken on the way to Kolli Hills, which is past Salem in Tamil Nadu. I am also not in this photo.

Exterior features for Indian conditions

As well as the increased suspension clearance which you will have seen in an earlier photo, there are a couple of other features:

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-11072010126.jpg

Sump guard under the engine for protection. I’ve only seen these on rally cars before

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-11072010127.jpg

The right of the 2 lights are foglamps - they are great for lighting up the sides of the road when the streetlights are not working

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-11072010131.jpg

Back light with the all-important model designation. It’s not one of those ‘C’ models you know. IIRC the slotted light design was intended to reduce the amount the lights got dusty. It seems to work OK, and I like that smoked effect on the reversing light and indicators. Note - rear foglights too.

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-p1060272.jpg

Extra value free picture - view from the top of Avalabetta. It is a nice drive to get there and not many people know about it, so not too crowded and not too full of plastic and other rubbish.


Interior design, space, practicality & features

Here are some pictures of the inside of my car:

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-11072010133.jpg

The leather interior is nice and comfy. It is manual transmission and as it has the SRS (safety restraint system - airbags), there is no glovebox. Instead there is a lockable cubby in the centre console. The wood veneer is in excellent condition through out. The knobs on the side of the seat adjust seat angle and when pulled out, adjust the height of the headrests.

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-11072010134_50.jpg

The back seat is comfy, with a central armrest that pulls down. The headrests are adjustable and there is a special switch on the dashboard which can be used to drop them down to see better when reversing. This is fun to do if your passengers are not expecting it

Now I have some bad pictures of the interior:

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-150820111094.jpg

So here is the dashboard in a subdued light (apologies for the quality!) There are clear speedometer and odometers, and an oil pressure gauge (don’t see many of those these days!). The key goes in on the left of the steering column. The ICE is an original Blaupunkt with extra tweeters at the top of the windscreen, a cassette player (!) and a 10-disk CD changer in the boot. Sound quality is pretty good and it has an electric aerial which goes up when the radio is switched on (I think that is quite cool....) There is a primitive remote control on the steering wheel.

Some of you may have spotted there is no handbrake. Instead, there is an extra pedal for the, erm, footbrake. Then there is a lever to release this when you start off. This took some getting used to I can tell you!

The wood is really nice and may be real.

Air conditioning is effective. Out of the factory the recirculation cancels every 10 minutes or so, which is bad in Bangalore. So the car has been modified (in a reversible way) to be always recirculating.

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-150820111098.jpg

In the back, apart from the headrests there are some individual reading lights which are good for reading the paper by. There is also a sunblind (manual) for the back window.

Here is another picture, which I have no reason to include, from a trip to Kotagiri, in the Nilgiris:

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-12092010427.jpg

Engine and Transmission

2.2 litre petrol. Where possible I use Shell petrol. I love those garages (sorry - bunks) - it seems they actually care about their customers! Always clean, with polite attendants, polite cashiers, and trustworthy petrol. Not to mention a good range of snacks. The government owned garages are pathetic in comparison.

Transmission is 5 speed manual with an unusual lift-up-and-pull to the left for selecting reverse.

My car has plenty of pick-up and feels safe at ‘highway speeds’. I personally don’t feel safe at more than about 90kmph on the highway as there is always something unexpected around the corner. And if you have not seen it yet, I recommend looking at the ‘accidents in India’ thread with its > 500 pages (if anyone has a link plase post - I can’t find it right now). That is a sobering thread to be sure. On the other hand, on the NICE road or the elevated section to Electronic City, quite high speeds can be attained.

Other pertinent points

I had additional insurance for my car:

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-16102010537.jpg

The plantain leaves have an extra function of speed limiters. If you drive too fast they start to disintegrate. Just as effective as speed breakers, plus a smoother ride and recycleable!

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-16102010543.jpg

The puja has so far made my car invincible. By the way, here you can see the windscreen wiper with its funky mechanism

Other pertinent points

The view down the bonnet is great, so here are some photos:

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-10092010346.jpg

Bandipur, on the way to Kotagiri (via Ooty)

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-05112010564.jpg

A water cooled cyclonic. I think this was on NH13, towards Hampi. Do not ever drive down this road - it is absolutely appalling (wish I had checked up with the routes section in team-bhp before assuming that a national highway would be a decent road - doh!) My average speed on that road was about 20 kmph due to trucks and car-swallowing potholes

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-07112010595.jpg

I think this is the SH69 from Bellary south towards Bangalore. This is the best driving road I have found so far - well surfaced, not too much other traffic, and lovely sweeping bends. Recommended!

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-12092010432.jpg

Here is the Benz in Kotagiri. Its Indian spec suspension let me tackle the tea plantation roads and get lost a few times without mishap.

My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review-p1060273-large.jpg

Finally here it is parked up at Avalabetta.

I am enjoying driving around and exploring - though never ceasing to be amazed at the sheer stupidity of many drivers and the very bad attitude of others!

This is my first post - so - have mercy - feedback welcomed!
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Old 16th August 2011, 05:29   #2
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

@achtung, excellent write up, a little different one as its a review and at the same time there is a bit of TL thrown in.

How much did it cost you in Bangalore? 1997 Benz with approx 30K on the odo has most of its life left and its a excellent buy.

What was the fuel efficiency it gave when you took it on highway? I remember reading 8 Kmpl in town and you believe it would be twice that much on highway (i.e. 16 Kmpl on highway). Which is just amazing.

I see you are already comfortable with Indian city driving madness.

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 16th August 2011 at 05:31.
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Old 16th August 2011, 22:56   #3
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

Hi Mayankjha, thank you for the compliment! I paid a fair price considering the age. It has now done 55K and feels quite young. I think it does 15 kmpl on the highway

Indian city driving is OK - the overtaking is at slow speed!
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Old 16th August 2011, 23:54   #4
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

Congrats on a great buy, as rightly said last 'real' Mercedes. How much did you buy it for?
I too am planning to buy a used W124 by mid next month. Where are you planning to get her serviced regularly? If you happen to know a good reliable workshop, please do let me know as well.
BTW, are you sure you are getting 8 kmpl in city? What I had heard was max 5-6 kmpl in city and 12-13 on highways.
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Old 17th August 2011, 02:55   #5
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

That is the best merc IMHO, all the other ones since then, just don't match up, (for me) Great Car, and a superb Write Up, to do justice to it, ROFL, with the extra insurance,

All the best for more miles, Drive Safe
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Old 17th August 2011, 12:21   #6
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

Welcome aboard..!!

You have indeed purchased an iconic car which will serve you well in the long term. Happy Driving around.

A few queries that I have:

How much has it clocked?
Where do you get it serviced and at what intervals?
What have been the service costs so far?
Have you faced any niggles/breakdowns with it thus far?
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Old 17th August 2011, 14:44   #7
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

Congrats on your new acquisition. Excellent review, enjoy the tank. You will appreciate the tank even more on the Bangalore Roads.
You are very lucky to find a well used example of W124.
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Old 17th August 2011, 15:16   #8
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

never seen such funky writeup. A friend told me that it's a good car but requires lot of lovely care. enjoy.
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Old 17th August 2011, 16:52   #9
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

One of my all-time favourite sedans, thanks for sharing! Those pictures are a sight for sore eyes....will such beautiful, timeless sedans ever be built again?

Quote:
Originally Posted by achtung View Post
Though reliable, fixing problems may be expensive - get to know a local specialist
Bingo. Finding a good mechanic who knows his Mercs is the best (time) investment you can make. Some parts are very reasonably priced and even if the others are expensive, they sure as hell last long (unlike the case with new-gen Mercs).

Quote:
The ICE is an original Blaupunkt with extra tweeters at the top of the windscreen, a cassette player (!) and a 10-disk CD changer in the boot.
If the CD changer works, it says a lot about how well maintained the Benz is.

Quote:
My car has plenty of pick-up
I've always believed that the E220 is the buy of Indian W124s. The E250D, workhorse that it is, is simply too slow! The E220 can give some current sedans a complex in 0 - 100 runs

E220 versus E250 (W124 - Mercedes E220 or E250D? Which would you buy?)

Two things for your to-do list:

- Replace the wiring harness (if not done already). I can bet you that your car's harness would have worn out by now, thanks to the biodegradable stuff that Mercedes started using in the nineties.

- Check the battery tray; if not repaired, it must have rusted badly by now.

Congrats & drive safe!
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Old 17th August 2011, 18:14   #10
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

I enjoyed the humour as much as the pictures.
Wonderful post, mate. Give us some more experiences with the tank.
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Old 17th August 2011, 21:10   #11
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

Hi everyone, thank you all for the feedback, it's great!

My city mileage is 8kmpl last time I measured it.

As for servicing, there is a place called Car Mechs in Koramangala, which specialises in Benzes. If you visit their place they always have lots of them around. And the mechanics know what they are doing - I feel very happy to have found them as the prices at the authorised dealer were a little on the high side!

So far I have replaced:
  • The headlamp switch (they had some in stock!!!!!)
  • 2 fuses
  • The water pump (which started leaking, but only when stationary - interestingly that seems to be common with most water pumps, that they seal themselves when running but leak when not moving)
  • I had the airconditioning de-dusted and the recirculation fixed on
  • And I also replaced the Michelin tyres, which were getting quite worn, with some Goodyear Excellence tyres. These are higher profile (195) than the previous ones (225) and I find they are both much quieter, and absorb bumps better. In contrast with many people on the forums I disagree that low profile tyres are a good thing. In India one does not reach speeds where they make a difference to road holding, and the decrease in comfort is very marked

The costs are below what I was expecting. Also, the wiring loom looks in good shape, I think the car has mostly lived in covered parking

Do let me know if you would like any other info!!
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Old 17th August 2011, 22:44   #12
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

What a brilliantly executed thread. Thank you for sharing. Your thread is proof that if you look hard enough you can still get a relatively low mileage W124 !

Just nitpicking but SRS is Supplemental Restraint System (not safety restraint system - airbags)
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Old 17th August 2011, 22:53   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by achtung View Post
As for servicing, there is a place called Car Mechs in Koramangala, which specialises in Benzes. If you visit their place they always have lots of them around. And the mechanics know what they are doing - I feel very happy to have found them as the prices at the authorised dealer were a little on the high side!
Awesome!! Thanks for sharing this piece of info. I have been looking out day in/day out for a good reliable independent workshop to service used Mercs. Thanks again
Also, if you don't mind, can you please let us know where exactly is this workshop located in Koramangala and how to reach this place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by achtung View Post
So far I have replaced:
  • The headlamp switch (they had some in stock!!!!!)
  • 2 fuses
  • The water pump (which started leaking, but only when stationary - interestingly that seems to be common with most water pumps, that they seal themselves when running but leak when not moving)
  • I had the airconditioning de-dusted and the recirculation fixed on
  • And I also replaced the Michelin tyres, which were getting quite worn, with some Goodyear Excellence tyres. These are higher profile (195) than the previous ones (225) and I find they are both much quieter, and absorb bumps better. In contrast with many people on the forums I disagree that low profile tyres are a good thing. In India one does not reach speeds where they make a difference to road holding, and the decrease in comfort is very marked
The costs are below what I was expecting.
Can you also please share the costs incurred.
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Old 18th August 2011, 06:40   #14
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

Hi achtung, Appreciate the nerve to acquire the W124. Topnotch car you got there and thank you for the simple and superb writeup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by achtung
This picture taken on the way to Kolli Hills, which is past Salem in Tamil Nadu. I am also not in this photo.


Some more pictures of the car please.
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Old 18th August 2011, 07:28   #15
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Default Re: My E220, W124 Benz, in Bangalore - long term review

What a thread! This is a real Mercedes now, isn't it? Not those overgrown toys masquerading as them these days (I know I know, I sound like my Dad! ). You seem to have got a gem of a car, lovingly maintained by its previous owner. Wish you many many happy miles!

When you start a Mercedes ownership thread, you better be ready with tons of nice, high-resolution pics showing every aspect of the car . Waiting for some more...
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