Mercedes-Benz has remained true to it’s “the best or nothing” slogan, delivering ground-breaking innovations in most of its automotive creations over the years. Therefore, it’s selection of legendary cars, SUVs, vans, and trucks is vast. Although choosing the best bearers of the famous three-pointed star emblem is not an easy task, here are 9 that we consider to be some of the best Mercedes models.
1. 1954-1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL W198
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL W198 is one of the most iconic sports cars of all time. This 2-seater coupe/roadster, which was based on the 300 SL W 194 race car, was named the “sports car of the century” in 1999. The 300 SL W198 is recognized as the car that re established Mercedes-Benz’s dominance in the automotive industry after the Second World War; it also inspired the development of exceptional Mercedes-Benz supercars like the SLR McLaren, SLS AMG, and AMG GT. The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL W198 was capable of hitting a top speed of 263 km/h (163 mph), and as such, it was the fastest production car of its time. It was driven by a 3.0-liter overhead camshaft straight-6 engine that made approximately 220 horsepower, and it is also renowned for its gull-wing doors that are hinged at the roof.
2. 1991 – 1994 Mercedes-Benz 500E
Yes, as strange as it seems, this early 90’s W 124 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan deserves to be in second place in this list of top Mercedes-Benz models. This is because this is no ordinary E-Class. The 500 E high-performance midsize luxury sedan was the product of a close collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Mercedes-Benz wanted to build a high-performance version of the W 124 midsize luxury sedan that delivered the kind of sporty driving dynamics that such a high-performance car ought to have, and it chose to seek the help of Porsche to achieve this. Porsche hand-built the 500 E, giving it wider front and rear tracks, larger brakes, and an exclusively-tuned suspension system. The 500 E was also outfitted with a premium, meticulously crafted interior; its slew of tech features was also beyond its time. The ‘500’ signified the presence of Mercedes-Benz’s naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 engine that developed 322 horsepower and 354 lb.-ft. of torque. Termed by the press as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, the 500 E delivers agile handling and can hit a top speed of 260 km/h; it can also sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in just 6.1 seconds.
3. 1963 – 1981 Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman Landaulet
After enjoying significant success with the 300d “Adenauer” four-door full-size luxury tourer, Mercedes-Benz went all out with the ultra-luxury S600 Grosser Mercedes (“Grand Mercedes”). The S600 is considered by many to be the all-time benchmark for luxury limousines. It has been the prized possession of many kings, queens, rulers, and heads of state around the world like former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito and former Korean dictators Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong Un. The Pullman is the long wheelbase, chauffeur-driven model of the S600. The Pullman Landaulet was basically the Pullman convertible, and it was and still considered to be the ultimate S600 Pullman. The S600 Pullman Landaulet is renowned for its hydraulic convenience system that controlled its windows, seats, sun-roof, boot lid, and doors. Driving the S600 Pullman Landaulet is an exclusively-built 6.3-liter V8 engine.
4. 1968 – 1972 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3
Coming in 4th place in our list of top Mercedes-Benz models is the classic Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3. At first glance, this car doesn’t appear to offer anything above what most Mercedes-Benz models provide. When you take it for a spin, however, you’ll see why it has to be on this list. The Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 is the product of a random experiment that was done by Mercedes-Benz engineer Erich Waxenberger in 1966. He took the massive 6.3-liter V8 engine that was made for the huge S600 limousine, and he fitted it into the engine bay of the smaller 300 SEL W109 luxury sedan. Because the 300 SEL W109 is well over 2,000 pounds lighter than the S600 limousine, the 6.3-liter engine propels it forward with thrilling urgency. The 300 SEL 6.3 requires just over 6 seconds to sprint from zero to 60 mph. At the time when it was first released to the public, it was the fastest four-door passenger car in the world.
5. G-Class (1979 – Present)
The G-Class, also called the Gelandewagen (or G-Wagen), is the product of Mercedes-Benz’s quest to build the ultimate military service vehicle. They intended to create an almost invincible vehicle that could conquer any terrain; well, they succeeded. The capability and sturdiness of the hand-built, body-on-frame G-Wagen SUV is recognized the world over. It has a permanent four-wheel-drive system that uses three fully locking differentials, and it also has a hardened steel body with underbody armor. Mercedes-Benz did it so well the first time that the first generation G-Wagen remained unchanged over a record four decades. In recent times, the G-Wagen, while still quite capable, has become the chariot of choice for many rich and famous people around the world. Today, this SUV is also available in a six-wheel truck version called the G63 AMG 6×6.
6. Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth
The Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth is the product of a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and British auto-engineering company Cosworth. In the 1980s, Mercedes-Benz wanted to improve the performance of their 190 (W201) compact executive car to compete against the likes of the BMW M3 in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) (German Touring Car Championship) motorsport series, so they turned to Cosworth for the development of a worthy competition engine. Cosworth did a great job of modifying Mercedes-Benz’s 2.3-liter M102 four-cylinder 8-valve engine, making it into a track-ready 2.3-liter 16-valve I6 engine that made the 190 compact car come to life. According to the rules of the DTM championship, a racing car had to be based on a road-going model, so Mercedes-Benz had to also produce several 190E 2.3-liter I6 Cosworth models for the public. That’s how this car became famous. Many automotive journalists confirm that the 190E 2.3-liter I6 Cosworth is one of the most fun-to-drive cars that they have ever driven. In 1988, the 2.3-liter engine in the 190E Cosworth was upgraded to a 2.5-liter engine.
7. C111 Prototype (1970)
The Mercedes-Benz C111 prototype deserves to be on the list of top Mercedes-Benz models because of its innovations and performance capabilities, which were ahead of its time. The C111 was a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive 2-seater sports coupe that had a fiberglass chassis. The Mercedes-Benz’s engineers were out to determine whether it was possible to mass-produce a car that had a fiberglass chassis, but unfortunately, that idea did not gain traction. Up to 16 C111 concept cars were developed in total. Some of the experimental engines that were featured in the C111 include a 350-hp mid-mounted 3-rotor direct fuel injected four-rotor Wankel engine, a 188-hp 3.0-liter OM616 I5 diesel engine, a 228-hp 3.0-liter I5 OM617 turbo diesel engine, and a 500-hp 4.8 L twin KKK-turbocharged V8 engine. The OM617 turbo diesel engine, which powered the C111-IIID prototype model, reached a top speed of 322 km/h and broke nine diesel and gasoline speed records. The 4.8 L twin-turbo V8 pushed this prototype’s top speed to a record 403.78 km/h.
8. 2003-2010 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
It would be wrong to talk about the top Mercedes-Benz models without mentioning the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. It is often termed as a grand tourer, but with its outstanding 0-60mph time of 3.6 seconds and its top speed of 208 mph, it deserves to be called a supercar. The Vision SLR concept, which was inspired by the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé, was presented to the world at the 1999 North American International Auto Show. It inherited several features from the Uhlenhaut Coupé like its gull-wings, side pipes, and side engine gills. To bring this concept car to mass production, Mercedes-Benz chose to partner with British sports car manufacturer McLaren Automotive, and that’s how the car ended up being called the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. SLR stands for “Sport Leicht Rennsport” (Sport Light Racing); true to its name, this car came off the production lines with a notably low curb weight of 1,750 kg (3,858 lb). This is thanks to the fact that its body and chassis are made from carbon fiber. Under the hood, the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren boasts a hand-built 5.4-liter supercharged all-aluminum alloy, SOHC V8 engine that pairs with an AMG five-speed automatic transmission.
9. 2010-2015 SLS AMG
Mercedes solicited the racing-inspired insight of world-renowned Formula one racing driver David Coulthard when developing the SLS AMG super sports car. Mercedes referred to this front mid-engine, 2-seater, sports car as the spiritual successor to the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL W198 (the one at the top of this list), so it is safe to say that the SLS AMG is a really big deal to Mercedes-Benz. Unlike the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, the Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth, or the Mercedes-Benz 500E, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG was made entirely by Mercedes-AMG. They made it over 120 kg lighter than the SLR McLaren and gave it a super-strong magnesium/steel/aluminum construction. The SLS AMG is driven by a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8 engine that develops up to 435 kW/ 583 hp at 6,800 rpm and up to 650 N⋅m (479 lb-ft) of torque at 4,750 rpm, and it requires just 3.8 seconds to sprint from zero to 60 mph.