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Build quality............

Discussion in 'General Mercedes-Benz Related Discussion' started by Ductman, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Ductman

    Ductman Senior Member

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    I have spent the last 2 days up close and personal with my sons 2010 VW Polo 1.2 which he's left for me to sell on his behalf, having emigrated at the weekend. He's been using it for the past year as a commuting car, during which time it has been faultless, but received little or no attention from him, never mind washing or (heaven forbid) polishing!

    Anyhow, I said I would fettle, thoroughly clean, polish and make it ready to sell for him and because of this, I've had the time to examine it in great detail. It pains me to admit this, it really does, especially on an MB forum but, horror of horrors, I actually think it is better designed and much better built than my '12 S204 C Class.

    There are a lot of thoughtful little touches under the bonnet, particularly with clips and brackets holding various components in place. The doors close with a more solid and expensive sounding 'thunk' than my 204 and it is much better and more thickly painted in the little nooks and crannies around the door and tailgate openings. It's a lovely little car with no frills, just an innate quality feel about everything.

    I'm truly shocked, not to say disappointed even.o_O I honestly thought it wouldn't hold a candle to my MB, but it seems there is a change afoot in the normally accepted world order of things. How can this be???
     
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  2. Frosty149

    Frosty149 Senior Member

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    Shhhhhh!
    I recently bought an old ('05) Citroen van to slave for me and save the MB 'for best'.
    Have to say, for its cost, it's a well engineered little workhorse and new parts are peanuts by comparison...
    I'm rather embarrassed to say I quite like it - I was expecting to put up with it as a 'sensible' choice only...
     
  3. turbopete

    turbopete Senior Member

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    simple. I'm not convinced MBs are built as well as they were, and the big one is EVERYONE else is catching up rapidly. BUT don't fall into that old 'VW is better built than its competitors' garbage. ignoring the size difference, my boss has a 63 plate Golf. I have a 60 plate Mondeo. wold I swap? not a chance. the Golf is Noisier to ride in and certainly doesn't sound or feel any better built than mine. on build quality, as a perception (like you have with the Polo) id have a Ford over a VW at any and EVERY opportunity.

    MB got complacent, tried cutting corners to cut costs, and the rest of the world caught up, basically
     
  4. Craiglxviii

    Craiglxviii Senior Member

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    This is a highly complex subject to say the least.
     
  5. Craiglxviii

    Craiglxviii Senior Member

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    Pete, stop banging the cost cutting drum. It’s getting old now. Every carmaker does it. Nissan has the most aggressive cost reduction program in the automotive world, Toyota just behind them.
     
  6. Frosty149

    Frosty149 Senior Member

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    My old froggy mini van thing is ugly, cheap (£580), 2.0 Hdi engined tin box, it does what it says on the can, which is probably its original incarnation! 50mpg and zippy if not noisy and a bit 'rough round the edges' - but hey wadda ya want for £500 odd quid?:p:rolleyes:
     
  7. EmilysDad

    EmilysDad Senior Member

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    Not aimed at any one in particular ..... but in general, there is a LOT of 3 point badge snobbery on this forum. If Vauxhall still did RWD I reckon I'd still have one. There was a lot more standard kit on it .... I miss my HID lighting. IF Craig's mate had anything to do with designing my head lights he needs to hang his head in shame ;)
     
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  8. Craiglxviii

    Craiglxviii Senior Member

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    He currently has around three million headlamps in the market right now with no market concern...

    HiD. Pfft. The world is going to LED for a number of very good reasons, not least of which is the whole, you know, heavy metals poisoning of the environment issue.
     
  9. EmilysDad

    EmilysDad Senior Member

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    No experience of LED lighting .... just know the standard filament lighting in my car are cr4p ..... both my Smarts H7 lighting are better. The standard HIDs in my Omega were far superior to those in my supposed 'premium' brand car
     
  10. turbopete

    turbopete Senior Member

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    the point is, its true. the 80s a new 124 was £35k or thereabouts in pretty much poverty spec. a new E class now, in poverty spec is STILL £35k or thereabouts. a base Mondeo in the 90s was around £12k. now its nearer £20k so if everyone else has had to put prices UP whether its due to inflation or efficiency improvements etc, how has MB managed to keep its price the same if there hasn't been some cost cutting somewhere down the line??? I suppose the poor steel used and poor panel presses etc used in the building of 210s, 203s etc that made them known to be rustbuckets for models built between 1998 and 2004/5 was all part of their design, was it? the swap from a Duplex timing chain to a single chain wasn't driven by cost either, I suppose?

    yes we KNOW all car makers do it. but few do it in such ways that it can blatantly affect the quality of the product as much as MB do. Nissans even up to the mid 90s were rotboxes, like their Datsun predecessors, or Alfas/fiats. yet I cant remember the last time I saw a Nissan, alfa or any other car with the rust issues MB had during 210/203 pre facelift production. you have connections with Nissan. how many timing chains have Nissan had rattle at sub 30k miles? and yes we get the faults on here but surely 1 MB with such a fault is 1 too many. the point is, they do have the problem on some cars, and the difference is Nissan would have looked into the issue for a solution, not said 'out of warranty not our problem' and then carry on to make the same mistake (possibly) on the next generation engine.
     
  11. Craiglxviii

    Craiglxviii Senior Member

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    No, the point isn’t that it’s true. That’s your opinion only. In the 80s a 124 had little European opposition that wasn’t made in Bavaria. The market has closed somewhat since then, the E Class has competitors from Germany, France, the US, Japan and Korea all in its own back yard. So the £35k of 1984 doesn’t translate to £-00k odd today because MB still has to compete and sell enough cars to make their capital investments pay off.

    Cost reduction isn’t cost cutting. I’ve mentioned to you numerous times before that carmakers have design and test standards for all sorts of things on the car. Costs can be reduced by design changes and plant efficiency improvements without impacting on vehicle performance. This happens every day and has been going on since at least 1953 as I have a Ford Detroit case study on precisely that topic (making fuel strainers cheaper...)

    For sure the move to a simplex chain was driven by cost control measures. But then again the same study also showed that the simplex chain would last the design life of the engine. THEN auto start stop was introduced and the number of starting shockload impulses on the chain increased fifteen fold. Still the same study showed that this would lead to market concerns well within the acceptable failure range (say 0.02% of build- I can’t give exact figure) and that’s what we see today. Everyone “hears” about timing chain failures like IMS issues on 911 996s. Enough happened to sour enough people for it to be “common knowledge” except really it’s anything but.

    I’d really challenge your assertion that “few do it as blatantly as MB do”. MBs various quality standards haven’t changed at all since at least 1994 and their test scores across the board have steadily improved, pretty linearly at a guess in line with their plans. Their cars are no worse than they were (except they handle and perform better than ever for a given model/ spec/ grade), however their competition has been busily closing the gaps year on year.

    Timing chain issues- the Nissan YD22 and 25 engines had/ have timing chain rattle concern from 12k in some cases. Certainly a significant proportion at 30-50k. That affects X Trail, Murano and Navara from 2005 to 2014 btw.

    Remember every car manufacturer will have vehicle faults. The market average is for 0.05% if faults to be serious (warranty return) and MB are running at around half of that.
     
  12. Frosty149

    Frosty149 Senior Member

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    I think the point here is that technology and production engineering have moved on significantly in the last few decades and the 'minimum' standards of yesteryear are virtually non-existent, some legislation driven, some by competition and the marketplace.
    The point I think both Ductman and I were making was how much the build quality and engineering gap has closed in the recent evolution of our beloved motorcar!:rolleyes::D
     
  13. OP
    Ductman

    Ductman Senior Member

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    Indeed so. I won’t be changing from MB to a VW anytime soon but was simply astounded at just how improved my sons car is for what is, essentially, a shopping trolley.

    The last small car we had in the family was my wife’s Ford KA and I recall that as being quite crude in the way it was put together. The doors clanged horribly, rather than a satisfying thunk and materials used inside were just plain nasty. I guess that was designed probably 10 years earlier than the Polo for a similar market sector but was a real chalk and cheese comparison.

    Maybe the improvement in small cars is partly due to a general move towards smaller cars and folk not wishing to downgrade in quality at the same time. Whatever the reason, it was nice to see a small car you wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen driving. ;)
     
  14. ajlsl600

    ajlsl600 Senior Member

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    at the mo ,all my cars are benz and overall have been very reliable, but then so were my fords, i cant even remember changing a bulb on my fords , everytime i come home one of my bulbs on the clk will blow .also my audi quattro was a great reliable car,wish i had kept that.... I believe the SL is generally a well built good quality car the Aclass a grand shopping car,and the clk a decent mid range car. which is probrably how the maker intended it to be... however i dont belive the quality of any of them is benz of 35 yr ago except in the area of rot, the makers dont want our cars to rot away these days, keep us comming to the parts counter is, i believe the name of the game.and yr car will no longer die of rot or mechanical failure .it will die of electronic failure or the fact that the supplier gave up making the parts. the breakers yards will fill up with cars that look in good nic but cant move. as opposed to rotten cars that cant move.
     
  15. Steve@Avantgarde

    Steve@Avantgarde Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    And the rust in the late 90's wasn't because it was poor steel. It was ungalvanised body panels and a change of paint process and compound, due to environmentally friendly eco warriors sat in brussels.
     
  16. Frosty149

    Frosty149 Senior Member

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    Wow it seems I missed a decade of car development!

    Next you'll be telling me they can create power from the sunshine ;):D
     
  17. Wighty

    Wighty Senior Member

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    Not up north they can't buddy , there isn't any :D:D
     
  18. Frosty149

    Frosty149 Senior Member

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    Maybe they should look at the 'wind' - there's plenty of that bandied about! ;):p
     
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  19. Wighty

    Wighty Senior Member

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    Uuurgh....love it :D
     
  20. Craiglxviii

    Craiglxviii Senior Member

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    Ah yes. But here we meet another few factors.

    VAG are the automotive world's undisputed master of commonality. They call it their strategic weapon and they are far, far better at it than every other carmaker. They will develop a platform- say the floor metal, dash bulkhead, running gear, powertrain and the thousand and one (or rather ten thousand and one) other myriad components that attach to them. Let's say for Golf as it's a great example. They then use as may of those exact components on as many other cars as possible. So, for instance, the frontal crash structure on the Skoda Yeti today is identical- same part numbers- as on the Golf Mk.IV from 1999. Is this the absolute best crash design for the Yeti? Probably not- but not off by much- because VAG have "grouped" their crash structures by vehicle mass, they have either 3 or 4 (small, medium, large and pickup for example) and regardless of the specific car model they fit the exact same parts for the size grouping of car in during the CAD design stage of that car model. In doing that they massively reduce their design, development and tooling costs for those parts. Huge amounts of money are saved all over the car in similar fashion on all sorts of things, which allows them to then spend that money in the overall car budget on other things. Sprung-loaded chrome plated luggage tiedown hooks for instance. All of the "little" things that add together to make the car a much more pleasant place to be.

    Doors are another area where VAG really have it nailed. They use a common door system with (again) many shared parts between one car and another. WIndow regulator motors are common across almost their entire range for example, so they really benefit from volume effect. They use a fully pressed door which is very good for NVH sealing against wind noise, , and an integrated two-shot injection moulded plastic insert as a weather seal between the door metal and door card. So their door is almost fully isolated from wind noise by the metal of the door inner rather than the fibre of the door card... and so on.

    The point here is that VAG developed this sort of systemic approach first on their bigger cars and then started pushing it downwards into their smaller cars. Then they pushed it sideways into every new model and linked as many parts as possible up, down, sideways and diagonally to both reduce costs and increase performance of the various customer-interactive systems at the same time. It's endemic within the VAG culture (just as continuous process improvement is within Toyota).

    Car sales are not moving towards smaller designs, right now the two best selling cars in the UK are Qashqai and Golf in that order. In fact we see the opposite, that car designs grow over time- compare a Golf Mk.I vs a Mk.VII. Indeed compare today's KA to a Fiesta Mk.III and you'll see them occupying similar market segments. Again a highly complex subject but as car marques/ models mature they tend to move diagonally upwards in cost/ market segment as customer confidence grows in them. Look at the Kia Sportage as a good example of this. it's gone from a poor man's Disco to a direct Evoque competitor in around 8 years.

    So yes, small cars are improving their build quality but this comes on the back of a general overall market "quality" improvement- which encompasses everything from parts/ systems performance, to included technical content, to styling, to Perceived Quality. IN fact one of the most important things to come out of the last 10-15 years is a significant upping of PQ targets for B/C segment cars across the board- THAT is what is driving the narrowing of "quality" gaps between competitors. Customers want more/ better/ "nicer".
     

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