I tend to be partial to European formulated engine oils, a bias increased by having lived and driven in Europe. What I would like to hear from you all in the form of first-hand info or educated guess is: (1) Are European oils really that much better? I know they cost more but is that due to formulation issues or taxation on petroleum products in Europe (or both)? (2) How legit is the Mercedes approval process? Do they actually test oils in their engines and compare physical and technical results to produce the approved list or is it more a "political" thing (you can define political for this exercise both in terms of relations with the major oil producers and with the national entities in which Mercedes are sold or are popular? I find it interesting that of their 229.5 oils, there are French (ELF and Total), US/World (Mobil 1), German (Aral and Fuchs), UK/Northern Europe/World (Shell). Of course the Italians did get left out (Agip/ENI). Your thoughts would be appreciated.