For those of you who are too lazy (like myself) to read through all that on that other site...
American Driver: Mercedes-Benz and Subaru
By David E. Davis, Jr.
When I left Car and Driver in 1985 to launch Automobile Magazine, some of my former employees over there became sort of snarky and began taking shots at me from time to time. One of these, an itinerant copy editor whose personal hygiene was as bad as his attitude, was asked by an inquiring journalist what sort of magazine I might be expected to produce. He replied, "If his record here is anything to go by, it'll be all about Mercedes-Benz and Subaru," or words to that effect.
I'm not entirely sure that I could do twelve issues a year devoted exclusively to Mercedes-Benz and Subaru and keep it as lively and entertaining as I like my magazines to be, but there are now several tuner magazines dedicated almost entirely to the Subaru Impreza WRX, and there must be a half-dozen glossy Mercedes-Benz magazines, so I may be underestimating the power of those excellent automobiles with their respective constituencies. But that copy editor was right about one thing: I do love those cars, and I have recommended them to an awful lot of people over the years.
My own first car was a mid-'30s Mercedes roadster, purchased in 1951. I drove it with great pleasure for a couple of years before switching to a new MG TD, which I chose because I wanted to go road racing with the SCCA. My life and my travels have been studded with other Mercedes-Benzes, and I treasure a host of friends I've made among generations of Daimler-Benz management.
My love affair with Subarus began around the time they became real cars. They went to the four-cylinder boxer engine in the early '70s, and that engine was enlarged and steadily refined. Turbocharging helped Subaru's opposed four-cylinder engines perform like V-6s. It was my belief that if the original Henry Ford had lived to enjoy the Reagan years, his car of choice would have been a Subaru. It was a car so sensible, so useful, and so iconoclastic that Thomas Alva Edison would have wept because he hadn't thought of it. When the Outbacks arrived in 1995, and all Subarus got all-wheel drive, I was drawn more deeply into their thrall. And when the WRX at last became available to us deprived Americans, my joy knew no bounds.
About a month ago, I drove a Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT sedan. That car's engine, a detuned version of the engine in the WRX STi, features a smaller turbocharger and is wickedly quick. It reminded me rather forcefully that a Subaru doesn't have to be a WRC rally car to be fun to drive. It was smooth and torquey everywhere in the range, it was definitely fast, and it was a very comfortable sedan for a size 48-Long automotive journalist.
Mercedes-Benz recently has built a variety of delicious cars, many of them very-high-performance cars. In 2002, I enjoyed the best driving adventure in several years when I flew to Oaxaca and drove the 1952 Mexican Road Race 300SL Gullwing on Mexico's mountain roads. During that trip, we also drove the SL500 and AMG coupes from Oaxaca to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, in effect driving the first leg of the original Carrera Panamericana backward.
Since then, I was able to drive the S55 AMG on a little one-day rally organized by a group of car-guy pals. On a particularly nice section of rural road, I accelerated into a very fast left-hand corner at full throttle and simply left a Ferrari V-8 looking as though it were tied to something.
One hears daunting tales of electronic glitches and technological troubles with recent-vintage M-Bs, but I've driven a dozen or so in every size and price class during the past three years, and I have yet to experience a problem. A good friend, who drives an E320 4Matic station wagon on dirt roads in very harsh climatic conditions, has never experienced an electrical or electronic problem of any kind, but he has found that constant use on dirt roads dramatically shortens brake life.
It often has occurred to me that inasmuch as my first car was a perfectly lovely Mercedes-Benz, maybe my last car ought to be its modern Mercedes counterpart. Nobody else has ever made this claim for the Mercedes automobile, but it might actually extend my life. Add a new Subaru Legacy GT to the prescription, and I might live forever!
When we bought our OB, I mentioned to an automotive inclined buddy of mine (who subscribes to Automobile, BTW) that it reminded me of my mother in-law's late '80's Mercedes in the way it drove, felt, even the seating position. He told me Mercedes and Subaru did a "technology swap" a few years ago...Mercedes wanted AWD tech and Subaru wanted quality control. Nice match.
That being said, you'd think that all the new DCX cars w/AWD would be that which Subaru bargained with MB for. To think that that 300C that I and my father want is more than likely using an AWD system that is based off of that which Subaru provided for Mercedes. Ha! I'll have to call and tell him tonight
That is likely what DCX did as that is EXACTLY what The General did when it bought bits and pieces of Subaru. Even the Plaztek has an AWD system based of a Subie system
Actually I have a funny story to tell on this subject...
Well my Dad called me last night to tell me of his recent story which relates to Subaru. Anyway he and a few of his Dodge buddies were out a our local country club last weekend just sitting around and having a couple beers and whatnot. Anyway they start to talk about the new 300, Magnum, etc and a guy approaches them and start to chat with them. As it happens this guy is actually one of the top Subaru engineers who had come down from Layfayette to check up on the new Subaru factory that is in my hometown.
So as it happens he actually gets on the same subject that we've been discussing here, the Subaru/DCX AWD collaboration. He told them that Subaru had given DCX AWD technology which is now being implemented in part on the new 300, Magnum, etc. Here's the catch though, the owner of the local Dodge/Chrysler dealer is one of my dad's good buddies and was out there. He himself said that the AWD power distribution is only 20/80 front/rear (pretty much RWD with FWD assist ) and in his opinion its not even worth getting as he's driven a Magnum V-6 AWD and a Magnum V-8 (HEMI!!!) RWD in the snow and said that the RWD w/stability control did just as good if not better than the AWD car.
He said that DCX's marketing of AWD is just to show that they have vehicles with AWD but other than that its just a useless, overpriced option. Before I knew of this type of opinion, I would have thought that the Magnum was a good competitor with the new Outback... I guess not though
But the thing that really strikes me is that my father (HARDCORE Dodge fanatic) actually began to look down on the Magnum because of this. He wanted an AWD Mag because he thought it would be like my Outback with the same type of AWD capabilities and whatnot in bad weather. Nope! So I had a good time laying into him about Subaru's superiority, which I take great pleasure in especially with him
As a Subie fan who works around Mopars, I can tell you that the AWD system in the 300/Magnum is not like the Subie system. Its seems far less efficient. More parts, more driveshafts, less integration between the trans and the diff. The front propshaft goes throught the oil pan! Mind you, the LX cars are a fantastic product, and a huge step forward for Chrysler. I would steer clear of the AWD systems though. Subaru has been doing it better longer.
Not the most recent article, but there are interesting comments about Subaru's US strategies as well.