This is my first Mercedes having previously only had BMWs, and well it's different. I needed a large car in order to get all my stuff down to France where I now work, and this car fit the bill.
The closest thing I can compare the handling of this car to is a Chevy. BMWs are a lot harder and really stick to the road surface. In the Benz you float, which is nice for long journeys, but does not inspire spirited driving. I bought this car as an Autobahn cruiser and it performs according to my expectations. It takes you quickly from point A to B in comfort.
Performance wise it's not bad. I have the 3.2L V6 engine, which develops around 220-230 hp. This may sound like a lot, but coupled with the automatic gearbox and the weight of the car, makes for average acceleration. The BMW 525 with a manual gearbox actually feels faster. However, this car was not designed as a racer and unlike the BMW you can comfortably cruise at 170-180 kph without too many revs. It's quite a thirsty engine. so avoid taking it around town or in traffic jams.
You buy a BMW for fun, freude am fahren. You buy a Benz for comfort. This really is a comfortable car and the drivers seat is a wonderful place to be. I sometimes drive for 7-8 hours straight without breaks, and feel just as fresh as when I departed. If I spend the same amount of time in some other cars I own, I can barely walk.
My car has the Avantgarde package, which includes leather seats, GPS etc etc. If you want to travel in the upmost comfort, then I can recommend this car to you.
The old W124 (the previous E class) was built like a tank and Mercedes felt that these cars were over engineered. So on this model they, unfortunately, cut back on quality. My car has been good will repainted at Mercedes due to rust issues. The car does feel solid, but cannot be compared to the older models.
In my car the electrics have a bit of mind of their own;
My cruise control doesn't always engage, and when it does, will cancel itself when it feels like it.
My seat head rest won't always adjust. The PDC will not always work properly.
My AC suddenly (last week) decided it will either freeze or roast me to death. There seems to be no in between to hot or cold.
I also have some kind of suspension issue at the moment, I will update this review when I have it checked out.
I love this car. It looks great and it has huge amounts of space. It's extremely comfortable and relatively fast. If you need a car that can transport you, 4 others and a lot of luggage quickly, comfortably and safely, then this car is for you. I recommend it, but make sure you get one that has been well taken care of, and watch out for quality issues.
Pros: Looks good, comfortable and safe. Has huge amounts of luggage space. Pretty fast for its weight, and will cruise at 160+ with no complaints.
Cons: Some serious quality issues, the main culprit being rust. Due to its weight, the suspension really suffers and parts wear fast. Rather thirsty, expect about 12 l per 100km.