1982 vs 2021 Mercedes E-Class: Has Mercedes Improved The BEST Car In The World?

Nearly forty years separate these two cars, and you can see how the world's changed

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class - E 450 4Matic Sedan
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has been around for decades across multiple generations, but is the modern car just as bulletproof as some of the older versions? (Photos: Mercedes-Benz)

There are a few cars spanning the decades that have a legendary reputation for durability, and the W123 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is one of them. The old battleship — and I don’t use that term lightly — carried the tagline “engineered like no other car in the world” back when this 1982 Mercedes 300 D went on sale. Even today, it’s nothing short of a tank, especially with a five-cylinder diesel engine. It’s not exactly powerful, sure, but the W123 set a benchmark that even Mercedes itself labored (and sometimes failed) to meet in later generations.

Nearly half a century later, we arrive at the brand new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Specifically, the W123 generation, which the automaker just refreshed this year. At nearly $80,000, it certainly carries a price tag that demands quality and dependability. On technology and features, of course there’s no doubt the modern car easily surpasses its decades-old ancestor. The diesel engines of yesteryear have also given way to turbocharged straight-six gas engines — at least in this E 450 — with mild hybrid systems onboard. It’s faster, quieter, safer, and much more refined than the old sedan.

Mercedes’ new 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-six is a silky smooth powertrain, and much, much more powerful than the old clattering diesel.

Nevertheless, when you adjust the old 300 D’s value for inflation, it works out to nearly the same price as the brand new E-Class. You get much more gadgetry for your money these days, but will the modern car actually stand the test of time as well as its forebear? Tommy expects the W123 to outlast all of us, and there is some substantial evidence given the state of his car to assume it will. When you think of the classic adage “they don’t make ’em like they used to”, the old W123 is one car that springs to mind for many people. So, let us know what you think of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class (and the old one as well) below, and stay tuned for more old versus new comparisons!