MercedesBenz 280 SE W108 vs BMW 2800 E3 testdrive Drive

20 Июн 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
Mercedes-Benz W108

Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 vs BMW 2800 E3 test-drive

Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 vs BMW E3 — test-drive 2014

Giant test — 280 SE W108 vs BMW 2800 E3 . Photography: Perkins . Hardly more a decade ago the possibility that BMW and could be mentioned in the same would have appeared unlikely. Then came return from the edge of to begin a steady upward of improvement that even now no signs of levelling off. classic case of a company’s is based on the success of the 1500, 1800 and 2000 saloons. these cars BMW sensibly care to avoid a head-on with Daimler-Benz . Then the 2500 and 2800 BMWs . not direct enlargements of the four-cylinder but completely new and, at last, competing with Mercedes.

Or competing, for both firms too much respect for each as hardy independents in an industry composed of anonymous groups to in excessively vicious competition. BMW to think that its six-cylinder are that much more less staid, than of the people up the road and that are consequently finding a different Be that as it may, prices are matched. And BMW was unable to restrain a when, recently, it outsold in the car field. The smile, though, was by the knowledge that Mercedes’s output of diesel cars had not taken into account. In any the Daimler-Benz group is involved in aspects of engineering, of which are just a part, while BMW has its specialist production of motorcycles as a against the fluctuations of the motor

Not that either firm has to fear in the way of competition from its native heath. Italy only just returned to the for biggish, high quality in the M-B/BMW mould. Among 2.8s — the odd capacity limit is a of German road taxes disproportionately penalise anything — Opel is getting better all the yet still has a lot of leeway to make up in of image as well as fineness of and engineering. That leaves Jaguar with the 2.8 litre of the XJ6. Here, unhappily, tariffs contrive to ensure a direct comparison can never be for in West Germany the Jaguar is more costly than the Mercedes-Benz or the BMW. In Britain, with the lower duty now the difference is even more A hefty £1317 separates the BMW the Jaguar, while with the the differential is even larger at £1500. So either car costs over half as much as the XJ6 and that, we suspect, is a price that few buyers even in bracket can contemplate.

Both cars are in a way fortunate in being out of direct competition in Britain. fall neatly and with opposition into the yawning gap British firms leave the £2500-odd of the Jaguar and its kind and the heights occupied by Jensen, Rolls-Royce and the rest, all selling at of £5000.

Superficially the carburettor-inducted 280 S W108 would seem the rival to the BMW, but there is a large deficiency in power and performance. One has to pay nearly another for fuel injection to bring the output closer to that of the BMW E3 . Thus it was the fuel-injected 280 SE that we for trial; it is in any case the big seller.


In almost major aspect of design is a remarkably similar pair of The likeness is reflected even in the for, although no one is actually to confuse the pair, there is an resemblance in the squared-off lines. The shell is in direct line of from earlier examples, suggesting a certain solid The BMW’s lines are clearly from the smaller four-cylinder with strong contemporary influence which suggests a look at Bertone’s Mazda and 1800 saloons. Both manage to retain the vertical front grilles of tradition. The does so boldly, the BMW more as a though very necessary

Traditional and mod. The Mercedes interior is plush but staid The BMW 2800 E3, with cloth integral headrests, wood seems to be aimed at young

BMW 2800 E3 — test-drive

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As you will detect the specification tables there is, at glance, little to choose the two as far as engine layout is concerned. are in-line sixes with oversquare bore/stroke dimensions, heads and single overhead operating mildly inclined

Yet the BMW — a direct development of the well-established — is streets ahead of its older even without the advantages of the Bosch mechanical fuel Breathing through nothing exotic than a pair of Solexes it develops 10bhp than the Mercedes at an unflustered — well below the practical rev The Mercedes peaks at a more 5500rpm, giving 160bhp, but of merest is the fact that torque occurs at a brisk underlining a surprisingly narrow band. The BMW, only 3lb ft on torque, peaks at a -natively low Both cases serve to the way in which German road tax force highly developed 2.8 engines into cars would be more at home, with a mild, less and more torquey unit of, 3.5 litres like the V8 Mercedes-Benz in some of its costlier offerings.

The BMW with a choice of manual or transmission by ZF (ZF3HP), of which later, while the majority of arrive in Britain with of homemade automatic transmission, being little demand for the version. The Daimler-Benz automatic is one of the surviving examples of the fluid as opposed to torque converter, and no torque multiplication is possible the former there are four in the gearbox to ensure reasonable Even these were adequate until a recent ensured that all starts are in first and not second gear. The has full manual override in the way.

The 280, unlike the Mercedes models, retains swing axle rear an improvement on unmitigated swing but still theoretically less than the semi-trailing arms of the despite Herr Uhlenhaut’s denials. At the front the Mercedes to traditional wishbones against the of the BMW. Both cars coil springs and compensating at the rear to maintain level under a full load. cars, too, have brakes of generous size all

They share the continuing lack of interest in rack and steering, the BMW featuring a ZF worm and system and the Mercedes recirculating

That, then, is the basic of the two contenders. What deserves mention is their sheer of engineering concept, in detail as as overall. This is only as it be in cars costing three and a thousand pounds, but bear in that in Germany neither the nor the BMW are held in anything like the accorded them here. British prices are a lot to do with perhaps. In Germany, where prices are much lower, cars are considered worthy but dashing symbols of material

Mercedes saloon body come in a bewildering variety of The 280 is the largest of the mid-range models, only in size by the 600s and by the wheelbase edition of the basic as used in the 300 SEL 3.5 and 6.3 W109. There is, in a long wheelbase 280 SE W108 in some markets but Britain is not them. As it is, the standard 280 is not a particularly car bearing in mind its price and dimensions. The shortage of space is acute in the rear seat, legroom is adequate but not generous. appreciates this fact and it is in seat legroom that the four inches of wheelbase is up in the LWB cars. Width, at shoulder and hip is satisfactory and there is room for three adults abreast. a bulky transmission tunnel is no shortage of room in the front, individual seats are standard. The as you might expect, is cavernous. The is quite a big car and not one that is particularly of space.

The BMW is somewhat better in it manages to provide as much and comparable boot capacity in an length a full six inches The BMW also contrives to be a full astern in spite of being a narrower than the Mercedes. of these cars provides like the space that it were the engineering departments by an Issigonis. But neither is there any for them to do so. They are roomy

Both suffer to some from the need to accommodate six-cylinder engines. Their bonnets are fully justified by the of machinery revealed beneath. If sixes are wasteful of space, and a into either engine will bear this they do at least leave of room for the increasingly bulky paraphernalia of the modern car. The between slim cylinder and wheel arches can usefully be with servo systems, and the like and still leave for service access.

Back in the compartment, the BMW easily wins on space — an area which seems never to take seriously. The BMW boasts map pockets a deep compartment on the passenger’s a tray (with borders and to stop things sliding above the facia, pockets in the backs and another deep non-lidded compartment in the central The Mercedes could follow in providing most of these — as it is, the console and facia top are just so wasted space.


Anything the lacks in matters of oddment it more than compensates for comfort is concerned. The seats are softer than on some Mercedes we have met and, because of this, they better support both against cornering forces and the thighs. More padding in the region would be welcome. is the customary — and very smooth — fore and aft and backrest adjustment, control over the height of the For this, one releases a separate slides the seat forward to it or back to lower it, then the normal catch to find the longitudinal setting on the runners.

The BMW has this method of seat adjustment, though in a less form based on the theory shorter-legged drivers invariably a higher seat.

The seats are than in the Mercedes. If anything give better support more anatomical shaping, but weight occupants will them unyielding even the optional cloth upholster. cars have large foldaway anther rests at the The BMW lacks from central On the Mercedes they are mere £30

The BMW has easily the softer ride of two, though it is much prone to body roll. The feels distinctly firm by parison, and its shorter-travel suspension does not cope so spectacularly where extra-ride comfort is with poor surface The Mercedes is somewhat prone to rumble four and tyre when the going gets ireless than good, the BMW is out standing quiet in this

Wind roar is well on the Mercedes, rather less so the BMW in which the separate window arms inclined to bulge at very high speeds, on a gusty day. Then car also produces more commotion, in contrast to the Mercedes seems to become quieter as increase. In this respect the BMW is by the standards set by its price, the Mercedes better than average. normal tones at 100mph is in both.

Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive

Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive Mercedes-Benz 280 SE W108 test-drive

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Front occupants can have no quibble the heating and ventilation systems in cars. The controls are fairly but once mastered they well, which more can be said for the majority earlier There is no separate heating provision for people in the rear Nor does either car produce in the way of ram-induced cooling. On a hot day the booster be called into action.

We the BMW a delightfully easy car to settle to. Its slightly smaller over all large area of glass and high seating position to give excellent all round and, consequently, feeling of assurance. One sit lower in the Mercedes and while still satisfactory, is not as good. At first one is very of driving a big, unwieldy though the feeling wears off only a few miles.

Rather high-mounted steering in both cars reflect respective characters! The BMW’s is and wood rimmed in the sporting while the Mercedes’s is an uncompromisingly of large diameter and with a padded boss. The gearlevers are placed, as are the pedals, and there seat adjustment for almost any or to a satisfactory driving position. The BMW is a proper lever between the Its rival has an awkward pull-on tucked away under the behind the steering wheel.

controls on both cars been-simplified to the point where the drive can cope. They been combined into two sets of multi-purpose switches. car have a simple knob on the for the lights. In the Mercedes, an ingenious but ugly steering column serves for headlights, inkers and wipers. The BMW has two stalks to do the same Instruments and warning lights in are of intelligent design and clear though there are surprisingly few of the

Both cars are extremely finished inside and out. We the BMW’s — more modern to interior styling, though the has an air of smooth opulence that its nature. It can be — and, by most buyers, is—equipped with a of more or less practical Among the more sensible are glass at £39, a pneumatic locking all four doors, lid and fuel cap from the driver’s at £50 and a power-operated sunshine roof at for a radio with automatic aerial is another matter.

Mercedes-Benz W108

A rear window is standard on the It should be on the Mercedes, also, for occurs quite frequently.

has long led other manufacturers in into structural safety and their subsequent incorporation production cars. Rival are rapidly catching up, though, and them is BMW. Both the E3 and 280 SE W108 are built with collapse ends protecting a centre section and both copious interior padding and a quota of detail items as knock-away mirrors. A safety we daily appreciated in the BMW is the provision of a pair of front seat restraints that are adjustable for and easily removed altogether. have, however, rigid mounting bars which be a menace to children under braking.


Normally we would not expect to an automatic transmission car against a gearbox one. But in this things are little different, because automation is preferred by a of Mercedes 280 SE buyers and partly the Daimler-Benz system, with manually controllable speeds and a flywheel instead of a power-consuming converter, should give times on a par with those using an ordinary gearbox.

was a time when the larger felt and sounded more a little fussy when hard. Neither, then, was acceleration exactly remarkable. have changed. While the we recorded with the 280 SE are not outstanding for a 2.8 car, they are undeniably for one as big and heavy as this Mercedes. mid-range torque is now reasonable, high speed overtaking calls for third gear.

Past experience with big led us to expect something really from the 2800. The revelation occurred in the form of a top speed few under-three-litre GT cars can match, acceleration which could be a of embarrassment to most sports car The BMW, simply, is much not only than the Mercedes but than any saloon of similar The sole difficulty about its full potential is that gear wheelspin is too easily despite the use of bigger tyres those fitted to the basically but rather cheaper 2500

The BMW’s engine is one of those and delightful units that a smooth and steady supply of all the way up from tick over to a high rev limit, with a dip in the power curve nor a sign of mechanical excitement. It is not quiet as with the old 2300 Fiat of blessed memory, its song is a of exultation, not of strain. It is complemented by an precise and very light from the ZF transmission.

The Mercedes control comes as close as any system can to working like a manual setup. The slim sidesteps backwards and forwards its staggered gate, giving as quick and as smooth as those of any box. One can of course ignore it and let the transmission think for itself, but remains something less a strong suit with Mercedes.

Fuel consumption for both cars seem indeed if one remembers that are luxurious, fairly powerful The Mercedes was relatively little by driving style. The BMW, its lower weight, smaller area, higher gearing we would surmise, lower coefficient, could be persuaded remark-able frugality. We particularly one journey of 200 miles which a complete transit of London. Our speed was 73mph and we got an amazing 23 to the

Exploration of the BMW’s roadholding even less incentive to slowly. The suspension is extremely by the standards of largish saloons. Yet it is controlled and there is always of rubber on the road, so on both and smooth surfaces the car’s power is very high Tyre grip continues over severe bumps and in the at least on the Michelin XAs fitted to our used test car. roll is considerable.

The BMW is a tremendously car to drive hard. Approaching the the original, mild understeer quickly until the front away altogether. The way to avoid is to ensure that plenty of is turned on in the approach to the corner to the tail out and the nose tucked in. In stance it is, finally, the tail goes first — breaking in a slow, easily held All this, though, is something can rarely be practised on the open For normal purposes the BMW is a gentle that responds well to use of the throttle.

The Mercedes is much sporting in its behaviour, as befits its more digni-fied character. The of its rather harsh Continental tyres is enough to ensure of cornering power in the dry, but is advisable on wet surfaces. Well suspension means that the car is unduly disturbed by bad surfaces, it does allow more roll than isseemly. enough, the Mercedes feels wieldy than the BMW. Its handling characteristic is one of restrained turning eventually and quite to oversteer but not with the vicious that the presence of swing at the back, even low pivot would suggest to the uninitiated.

The 280 SE we drove had power-assisted steering, a extra that a lot of customers The servo works hard to virtually all the effort away, with most of the road The gearing remains on the low side, for some rapid wheel to catch a slide before it out of hand.

The BMW’s steering we praised before. We make no for doing so again now. By design of the front strut and hub plus concomitant geometry, the have succeeded in producing that is responsive, positive and — all — light enough to make assistance unnecessary, although it is Admittedly, the system is not as high as we would like, and it does bow to the area of the front tyre and become heavy for parking and low manoeuvring. But withal it remains than any comparable manual and certainly lighter than on the BMWs — though that in is possibly a dubious achievement.

similar all-disc brake both cars proved to fade under our standard conditions. Trying them on a circuit, we found that on cars the brakes continued to up well even when smoke. Eventually the BMW faded and took a while to recover, but it approached fade point on roads On both cars the only gave of their when lightly warmed. The BMW had the energetic servo of the two and gave more progressive braking suspension design means the BMW is noticeably free from dive under heavy Its rival does suffer this characteristic and is inclined to fee when braked hard high speeds.


For who enjoys driving as an end in itself can be no doubt that the BMW is to be preferred. In aspect of performance — top speed, economy, handling, braking — it is in of the Mercedes. The Mercedes scores comfort and luxury are concerned. It has as a ride, is quieter and generally restful as a means of getting while maintaining enough to keep ahead of the stream. the two contenders side by side, we that the BMW would arrive at its first but that the Mercedes turned up even less and more relaxed, if less

Competition on the British market, as we at the outset, is restricted. The Jaguar XJ6 in 2.8 form is so much cheaper as not to be The 4.2 XJ6 comes closer on price but detail quality, and its extra 1.4 put it into a different fuel category. Fiat’s 130 has still to in Britain. Until it does, and BMW have a cosy little in the market to themselves.

Mercedes’s injected 2778cc straight six and 2788cc twin Solex slant six come up with the same answer, the Mercedes giving 160bhp at 5400rpm and the BMW at a noisier 6000rpm.

Mercedes-Benz W108
Mercedes-Benz W108
Mercedes-Benz W108


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