1994 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review from Australia and New Zealand

1994 Mercedes-Benz S-Class S320 3.2

Year of manufacture1994
First year of ownership2001
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 3.2 Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 3 / 10
Comfort marks 9 / 10
Dealer Service marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 4 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
6.6 / 10
Distance when acquired90000 kilometres
Most recent distance120000 kilometres
Previous carToyota Camry

Summary:

Comfort out-weights poor reliability

Faults:

The comfort closing functions for all 4 doors and boot cover failed at different times, I brought it back for repair and that failed shortly afterward, this repeated 3 times and ended up with both (two) vacuum pumps that operated the comfort closing feature replaced at over NZ$2,500 (US$1 = NZ$1.72).

Rear right seat belt couldn't be retracted and needed to be replaced at NZ$700.

The recirculating air feature with air conditioning stopped working. Took three times going back to the dealer to be fixed.

The engine revs fluctuates widely right after a service with engine nearly stalled. Fixed in 5 minutes.

Loud rattle under the bonnet when the car went over bumps. A screw was missing at the engine tray.

Full throttle acceleration switch malfunctioned, had to be ordered in from Germany and replaced at NZ$500.

Automatic gear wouldn't start in P position. A sensor switch was said to have water corrosion and needed again to be ordered in from Germany. I gave up fixing this one since the car can still start in N position.

The easy closing feature for right front window stopped working.

Oil leaks at various point at the engine, but they were fixed easily.

General Comments:

This car has a stability that no other cars gave me. The ride comfort is excellent and the power is quite sufficient for New Zealand city and country drives.

If not for the poor reliability record, it could have been quite an excellent car. My S320L has been to the garage 3 more times often than I have been to the doctor over the past 2 years.

I suppose anything that could go wrong has gone wrong and I can enjoy driving it with some peace of mind now, but it seems to me that some new faults would develop immediately after it has been to the dealer to be fixed.

I quite like the Blaupaunt CD player/ GSM phone combo that comes with the car.

The dealer is very helpful, but it seems to have a permanent queue of S class waiting to be fixed with a two-week waiting list.

My next car would definitely be a new model S class The feeling of safety and stability out-weight all the little inconvenience of it not being so reliable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 16th August, 2003

17th Aug 2003, 18:49

You should have instead acquired one of the last V8 engined W126 series 420 SEL (1992?). I have for the last four years owned a 1983 500 SEC (also W126 series, but coupe). It still lives in tropical Darwin, has 290,000km on the clock, and has been one of the cheapest cars to maintain. It is reviewed on this website. S class MB's since the W126, have never been worth buying, in my opinion.

7th Jan 2005, 16:12

Never source a used S-class Ex-Singapore, they are a total liability, try and get a good used one from Japan or NZ with history.

29th May 2005, 17:00

I have driven an S320 (1996) for the past 3 years and can say without any it is one of the best car made. I admit that some of the parts can be on the high side, however if you look around you are able to find them at the right price.

9th Feb 2006, 11:13

Sounds like you brought a pup, don't be put off these cars are the finest Mercedes ever made, the 220 that followed is so much lower on quality and presence.

Average review marks: 6.6 / 10, based on 1 review