In its May 2003 issue, Diesel Car praised the E 270 CDI Saloon's wide spread of abilities. As well as complimenting the car's style, interior space, a "masterpiece" of an engine, and driving characteristics they summarised: "When this driver involvement, and the car's consummate Continent-crossing abilities are taken into account, the latest E-Class becomes an irresistible executive choice."
The S 320 CDI won its category with the following words from Diesel Car: "Interior space is staggering in both front and rear, and the seats are probably the finest we've ever had the pleasure of sitting in. Mechanical refinement is also second-to-none: there is little or no wind, road or engine noise at speed and the ride is 'magic carpet' sumptuous."
The awards presented to Mercedes Benz by leading titles have been reinforced by record first quarter registration results. And while the press have given six awards to the E-Class Saloon and four to the S-Class, the registration success has been spread across a wide range of models.
While five models had their most successful months in March 2003, Mercedes Benz customers are buying all kinds of cars in virtually every sector from family hatches, through saloons and estates to niche coupés.
The entry-level A-Class standard wheelbase model, which introduced the world to its unique sandwich floor concept in 1998, continues to perform well, and sales are likely to be boosted with the introduction of the new £13,995 A 160 CDI model.
Customers are buying Saloon, Estate and Sports Coupé variants of the C-Class family in record numbers, attracted by low entry prices, excellent levels of standard equipment, efficient and refined petrol and diesel engines and class-leading safety ratings.
Similarly, the new CLK-Class Coupé has won new fans since its introduction last summer. With styling cues from the flagship CL-Class Coupé and a range of 'big car' features as standard, the CLK-Class successfully balances style, performance and grace in one handsome package. E-Class and S-Class Saloon models lead their respective markets, both critically and in terms of sales, as does the new SL-Class Roadster.
Dermot Kelly, Managing Director Mercedes Car Group, explained the strategy behind this remarkable story: "Over the past few years, elements of both the corporate and private new car markets have shifted towards cars made by premium manufacturers, rather than models from the upper end of the volume sector. Many effects of these trends have been hidden by year after year of record new car registrations, but now a clearer picture is emerging.
"Mercedes Benz has managed to avoid the oversupply trap, by ensuring that we don't pin all our success onto one or two models, which would come at the expense of residual values, and could even damage a marque's hard-won reputation. Our policy of ensuring we offer customers a diverse and huge range of cars in all sectors and body styles means our success is based on a solid and stable foundation."
Dermot continued: "Over the past few years we have replaced or revised nearly all of our models. Despite the negative effects on registrations that cars at the end of their life cycle inevitably bring while customers wait for new models to appear, our sales continue to improve. Last year we replaced the E-Class Saloon, CLK-Class Coupé, SL-Class Roadster and revised the model offer in our C-Class family. This year sees yet more new Mercedes Benz models in key segments, yet we've recorded our best first quarter in our UK history."
The benefit of a wide spread of models has an effect on the used market, too. Dermot Kelly commented: "Oversupply in the new car market can lead to a glut of similar cars appearing on dealer forecourts in a couple of years time. But if you look around the approved used car selection at our retailers, a healthy selection of our most popular models is balanced by a good choice of more exclusive niche products."
Buoyed by these healthy new car registrations and the brace of industry accolades, Mercedes Benz customers can rest assured that when they invest in the three-pointed star, not only are they buying into the world's number one luxury car marque, they're becoming part of a growing, and importantly sustainable, global family.
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