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Comparison of '00 and '05 W220

S-Class (W220) 1999-2006: S 320 CDI, S 320, S430, S 500, S 600

Comparison of '00 and '05 W220

Old 10-23-2005, 09:47 AM
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2005 S500 4-Matic, 1978 450SL
Comparison of '00 and '05 W220

Folks sometimes ask for differences in models of the W220 with respect to features and reliability. I can't speak for all model years but I can compare my new 2005 S500 to my former 2000 S500, to some extent. From front to rear (sort of):

Hood and lower air intakes are restyled (probably much like the '03 facelift).

Air conditioning system has far more cooling capacity - something I really notice in Florida and in DC. This is true despite the fact that my Nov-’99 built '00 already had the larger A/C installed than earlier production models.

The suspension is much firmer; I kept my '00 on the intermediate ride setting always (except in crosswinds, when I would use the firmest setting). The '05 soft ride is at least as firm as the '00 was on intermediate setting, and provides excellent road feel.

The steering is more precise and responsive; this is probably because of the 17" wheels, vice the 16" on the '00. Even with stock Continentals, it is better than the '00 was with Michelin MXV-4s. Can't wait to get the Pilot Sport A/S on the '05.

That said, I am happier with the W220 handling overall than with W140s I tested when buying the ’00. Though well-built, the W140s handled and steered "heavy," more like trucks than fine sedans. Mercedes made a good move in my book in re-tuning the suspension and steering in the W220 for a sportier and more precise feel. They have improved it even more in the '05 vice the '00.

The '05 is a 4-Matic, and the '00 wasn't. Huge difference, and well worth the extra money. In my estimation, this car has replaced my '00 Audi A6 2.7T (twin turbo Quattro) as the benchmark for handling in a fine luxury car. Dry roads or wet (and I was in some of the hurricane-related downpours in South Florida just before writing this), the car is in control of the road - far better than the '00 was.

The body is tighter - far fewer squeaks. I believe this is due more to Mercedes’ efforts to reduce body squeaks than to having traded a 5 year old car with 63K miles for a new one.

The COMAND system is thought out far better.
a) For Nav, the large screen is great, the split screen for turns that shows the map display and the graphic display simultaneously; improvements to the DVD data base, providing street names in map mode, the ability to track current location continuously, and ability to use (and vary) personal symbols; expanded Points of Interest (and sort options); an intelligent speller that helps guide to what you’re entering; and overall ease of use (especially when entering and saving destinations) are significant improvements. The ability to switch between functions is easier, and access to submenus is great. The 3-D (bird's eye) view is nice but not especially useful. The written information on the symbols and options for the personal symbols you can add to the Nav display (personal, default, etc.) is sketchy, but once you get to the menu in COMAND it is intuitive. The displays and voice commands are logical (something I really missed while using a Hertz system recently). Route changes are recomputed quickly.
b) The voice command is extensive, expanded far beyond the ‘00 (which I had upgraded to an ’01 unit) and of course, controls many useful nav functions in addition to radio, phone, and CD. A list of available voice commands for the function currently on-screen is also available at the push of a button.
c) The Bose audio system is great (I know opinion differs, but I like it though I’d appreciate a midrange adjustment), and offers a surround-sound mode in addition to its previous options. However the provision of only one user-programmable FM memory band in the radio is a disappointment; the autotune function as a second FM memory just isn't that useful, especially when I use the car in 2 very different geographic locations.
d) The MHI phone system works well, though I had to pay an outrageous price for an M-B branded V710. A Bluetooth adapter should become available in the U.S, in early ’06. In the phone book, the instrument cluster LCD type size adjusts to try to display long names – a short name displays in large type and the type size shrinks to display longer names. In a nice touch, the COMAND display switches automatically to the telephone display when you make a call- so that if you have to make entries from the keypad, you can do so immediately. This is the kind of thoughtful planning of functionality that distinguishes the '05 from the '00 throughout.
e) The instrument cluster LCD display shows more information than my ’00 did, for a variety of functions. I do miss the digital readout of fuel tank capacity in the instrument cluster submenus, but of course that’s very minor.

The COMAND plays MP3 CDs and DVDs in the single-disc slot under the Nav screen (the mode is labeled "MP3 CD," but plays both MP3 CDs and DVDs). I have had great success authoring MP3 DVDs, once I figured out I had to use subfolders (and not write 1500 songs at the root level). In the "MP3 CD" mode the system recognizes only MP3 music format on the DVD, however; not AAC, Apple Lossless, AIFF, or WAV. It took days to convert a copy of my 30 GB iTunes music library entirely to MP3 format and rebuild my playlists, but once I did the entire library is on two DVDs – and I am happy with the results. The MP3 DVDs load slowly on initial startup, but once that has happened, access to songs is fast. Of course, there is a 6-disc CD changer in addition. I understand the (U.S. spec) DVD will play DVD movie audio tracks (when not in the "MP3 CD" mode), but not display video; that may be good for music DVDs (such as one of my favorites, the Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels Tour - which did not have the full song set on CD that the DVD had) - and while the DVD sound would be better than the MP3 versions of the same songs, it's not much use otherwise.

Unfortunately there is no AUX input on the Siemens-built COMAND, and unless Mercedes makes their iPod adapter available for the '05 S500, I can't use my iPod (which has my music library in better sounding file formats). The hole in the glove box where an input jack would be located is covered over, and there is no jack behind the cover. The Dension Ice>Link I had used in my '00 is not usable in the '05.

I have experienced some minor electronics glitches - ESP cycling off briefly on one occasion, a warning that airmatic load leveling had been cancelled on another, both without any action on my part (and I had not engaged the height control so that it would cancel automatically under certain parameters). When I tried to have those serviced, the dealer could not duplicate.

The A/C fan never shows less than 4 of 5 bars for speed in auto mode, although the fan has plainly slowed below those speeds; and the A/C display is always blue. It does not change color when the COMAND display does. The dealer says (and other users confirm) that these are not malfunctions.

I did not get Distronic or the Active Body Control (ABC) option, so cannot contrast those.

My car is silver, and has the wonderful Nano Clearcoat introduced in ’04. You can even feel the difference in smoothness with your fingertips. One owner who has a black ’04 has said “The paint is as clear as it was when it was brand new. The paint is simply incredible. It resists the fine scratches that come from regular washings and really reduces the need to polish the car.”

The finish of the interior is better. Doors and interior trim line up better. The underside of the wood trim over the steering column is fully finished, where it was a sanded edge on the '00. The chrome trim across the underside of the wood trim on the dashboard and doors is nice but nonfunctional. I love the electric rear window shade (didn't get the side shades). With the Silver exterior and Ash interior, the car is MUCH cooler in the sun than my black/black '00 (duh!!). However, I feel no need for window film in the silver car, which I did right away in the black car. It is at least 20 degrees cooler after being parked in the sun.

Cabin storage space: Similar, but the coin holder is not as useful in the '05 as the '00, and the cup holders take up some of the storage space the '00 had (however, the phone is easier to access, and the '05's cup holders work better and hold more).

The rear window defroster offers better coverage; I have not had to use it yet, but the design (finer wire much more closely spaced) would seem to afford faster defrosting. The automatic (rain sensor) wiper function will kick into high speed when necessary (the '00 would only step as high as the low setting). Wiper blades are the newer style, one-piece without the metal visible. The Bi-Xenon lights are nice looking, but since my ’00 had Xenon low beams there is no practical difference under most conditions.

The rear headrests can be programmed to retract automatically if no one is in the back seat – but the dealer has to activate that feature. The outside mirrors can be set to fold when you lock the doors.

The trunk requires more force to close, but has the auto-retracting handle to assist. The trunk space is less than the '00 because the Nav DVD reader is added and the CD changer sits higher (it is not recessed into the well behind the rear wheel as it is on the '00).

The front passenger footwell has slightly less space because of the 4-Matic. The dealer initially gave me mats for the non-4-Matic, which fit poorly. Told me the stock numbers were the same for both models. I went to another dealer who gave me the correct stock numbers, and to the embarrassment of the original dealer (which I made correct the error), my mats now fit.

I certainly hope that the reliability has improved as much as I have read, and as much as the additional thought in the way things function might indicate. Many items are truly better thought out; I will leave the car largely stock, since I am very happy with it - especially the all-wheel drive - but likely changes will be adding the BT phone mod, the iPod adapter if available for the '05 S-Class, and Michelin Pilot Sports A/S tires.

I couldn't see many differences between my '05 and the current '06 W220, so I opted to save the $ (about $10K). The '06 4-Matic is currently available only with a 5-speed transmission, although a 7-speed is available for the '06 RWD version.

I am happy that after accepting lower quality components from its suppliers for the 2000 model year to meet price competition, Mercedes has finally tightened up and gotten back on track with its quality. The W220 models since '00 have improved each year in quality and functionality, an upward trend that seems especially noticeable beginning with the '03 facelift version (judging by what I read in the forums). The '05 model year looks like it continues the upward trend; I would surmise that the '06 will also.

The switch to the MOST fiber optic bus seems to have gone smoothly, and its firmware suite for COMAND seems much better than for D2B bus models. With my system, firmware updates (at least for Nav) are loaded when you first insert a newer Nav disc.

Recall that some years back, Audi and BMW went through quality problems similar to Mercedes; both seem to have overcome them as well. They just went through it sooner. Publicity over one of Audi's problems (unintended acceleration) nearly killed it in the U.S. - I never experienced that (and question whether it actually existed) but my biggest problems with '79, '84, and '86 Audis were very frequent and expensive breakdowns. But Audi improved its quality by tightening down on its suppliers, and my '97 A4 and '00 A6 2.7T were nearly trouble-free. In the late '80's and early '90's, the BMW "Ultimate Driving Machine" catchline was a joke, not only in competitors' commercials, but in reality, due to breakdowns (mostly electronic malfunctions, especially with the computer controlling the engine).

Hopefully Mercedes is permanently past those problems. And hopefully the '00-'02 W220s have been around long enough to have had their problems fixed with better quality replacement components. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the '00 I just traded to another buyer - but would advise the buyer to 1) get an extended warranty, 2) expect a less frequent breakdown rate than the car had in the past, but 3) expect it to be expensive to fix when it breaks no matter who pays for it.

Last edited by Skylaw; 10-23-2005 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 05-20-2008, 11:50 PM
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wow old but still good. Interesting read thanks for posting
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Old 05-21-2008, 12:20 PM
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I couldn't agree more on that airconditioning system. What a difference. My 2000 was a shame.
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Old 09-10-2011, 01:12 PM
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Merce4des Benx W 220 S Class 320 CDI
Lo Everyone, - I am a newbie to this so please forgive some of my comments as they might be considered self explanatory. I have recently had a problem with water ingress rear nearside tyre well under 6 disc CD changer. (I think I have now got a short) in the equipment since the CD changer no longer works! Apparently this is common fault? Dried out well, and plug removed. + fuse (20 amp) removed and also replaced after about 30 seconds still no go. The strange thing is that my Command shows NO phone now, and also NO tv yet radio and tape deck works perfectly. Any ides please from any of you super technos out there to help a dumbo like me please. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to everyone for a super site and assistance in advance.
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Old 09-10-2011, 02:22 PM
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2001 S430
welcome to the forums!!

please repost as new topic with subject matter, thanks and dont forget to visit


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Old 03-03-2019, 02:59 AM
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1998 W140 S320 SWB
There is a chance I could get 2002 S600 L it has 60k on it km, not mil the car looks brand new, do you recommend this model ?
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Old 03-05-2019, 11:50 AM
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2005 S600
The 2002 is the 5.8L normally aspirated M137 engine. 2003 and up is the much more powerful (and more reliable) M275 twin turbo.

I can't speak to specific problems on the M137 beyond the well-known oil cooler leaks. If that's leaking, it's buried the V of the engine, and requires a ton of work to change it out. Naturally, the coils are a bit problematic, too, being a V-12, and for that, I recommend spending some time on this site: www.v12icpack.com

The car will also have ABC. The hydraulic components on this might be up to 17 years old now, which means degraded rubber hoses that will be the source of leaks, and potentially expensive (several thousand) repairs. If the car has no warnings, isn't leaking, and isn't making noise, then it's OK for now, but will require careful maintenance to keep it reliable. You'll need to look for signs of impending hose failure (weeping at the ferrule joints) and replace those hoses ASAP as a blown hose will kill your ABC pump, too. The pump alone is $1,700 from the dealer though rebuilds are available. Some hoses require lifting the engine, or lowering a subframe to replace them.

It's a great car, and a pleasure to drive, and I love the V-12, so if you're a car guy and love V-12s, and you know it will take extra work, then by all means, buy it.

If you're looking for cheap S-class, or you're not able to turn your own wrenches, then run, don't walk, and find a nice used S500 with airmatic. Much simpler to maintain.
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:00 PM
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2009 E350 4M Avantgarde;mistress 2002 S600; wife 2014 C300 4M
......and find a nice used S500 with airmatic. Much simpler to maintain.

Maybe... you won't find one @ 60 000 km.
But, an S600 is a handful, and you got to have the means to keep it running!
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