Monday, April 16, 2012

Used Car Review - Mercedes Benz E-Class (1995-2002)

If last week's car is for the driver minded one, this week's will be for those who prefer to be driven around and cuddle in the back seat. Myk Belmonte finds the obvious answer from Germany and the obvious choice of the affluent people (dead or alive, with the former being a sight on funeral processions) in the Philippines, can be had for the price of a brand new car and still having that prestige and presence even for an old car.

1995-2002 Mercedes Benz E-Class

Did you know that the "E" in E-Class meant for Einspritzmotor (German for fuel injection engine)? Yes, that Einspritzmotor is a feature in other vehicles during the 1950s, when the E-Class was introduced. The E was a suffix to the engine nomenclature (i.e. 230E), until the launch of the facelifted W124 (1984-1996) that the E became a prefix (i.e. E220) and the model is now referred to officially as the E-Class (or E-Klasse). Styles of the "E" that were released include the "Ponton", and "Fintail".

The W210 E-Class was introduced in 1995 worldwide with the slogan "See Mercedes with new eyes". Body configurations include the sedan (or saloon in European speak), and wagon. The W210 started a brand new design trend for the Mercedes 'face', which would continue until the C209 CLK. This grille had trickled down to the SL, C-Class, CL, CLK, and S-Class of the time period. With the discontinuation of the CLK (it was replaced by the W212 E-Class coupe, based on the C-Class platform), the twin-headlamp design was utilized for 13 years.  Production continued until 2002, with the W211 replacing it the following year.

It was Commercial Motors Corporation (CMC, the then assembler and distributor of Mercedes Benz vehicles in the Philippines back then) that brought in the W210 in the country. From 1995 to 1998, the 2.3 4-cylinder E230 was first offered, with the 2.6 V6 E240 being standard in 1998-2002. A diesel engine variant with 2.2 liters was made available through indent order. From launch to 2001, CMC assembled W210 units locally - although CBU units could be obtained by request. For the next generation model onwards, all units are imported from Germany. CATS Motors emerged in 2000 to provide an alternative for consumers.

Value and Costs
Prices of the W210 E-Class in the market when brand new cost between P2,500,000-P3,000,000. With the power of depreciation, one can obtain this gem within the range of P600,000-P850,000. You will encounter units of varying conditions and engine configurations. There also exists of used imports from the land of the rising sun and other used car exporting nations. These units are not intended for our tropical climate with potential issues for the cooling system and other related components. Although CATS accept grey market vehicles for service for a high fee, better steer clear from these units without explanation.

Maintenance costs of a Benz are definitely similar to your company's boss salary for a year. And the good thing is that, despite being an old year model vehicle, parts support is there. Replacement and genuine spare parts can be had either in the casa or legitimate automobile shops. The Benz could be a potential disaster if these reliability problems were not taken immediate care: Blower Motor Regulator, Front Sway Bar Drop Links, Front Spring Perches, Body Corrosion, Window Regulators, Head Gasket, and Differential Bushing. If you are considering a diesel variant, check if the mechanicals are functioning properly and a nightmare - black smoke goes out of the pipe.

Exterior and Interior
Exterior styling is devoid of awkward angles and unnecessary lines for a Benz. Anyone would describe this car as timeless, classic, and resists to be dated. In fact, you can say to yourself that you have "arrived" even on an older generation Benz. 90s era Chedengs do possess elegant lines that befit their image properly for their target market, the affluent people and the high income ones. As mentioned earlier, the "Mercedes face" became a Benz mainstay.

The quality of the interior - from the materials to the execution - is one of its strengths. The standard leather upholstery is executed well and does not feel out of place in a luxury sedan. It also goes well with the dashboard and other interior panels. There are tons of buttons for different functions that exist, although some might be intuitive to use, newbies must take the time and have enough patience to master them. Room for both front and rear passengers are adequate, with the latter ones enjoying the experience one can get from a Benz.

Although the W210 gets 32 different engine configurations for various world markets (in different flavors which includes an Inline-4, V6, V8, AMG V8, and diesel variants), the Philippine market gets to have three engines (out of 32 large). From 1995-1998, the M111.970 2,295cc that has 163hp and 220Nm became the sole option engine. From 1998-2002, the M111 was dropped in favor of the M112 E26 2,597cc with 170hp at 5,900rpm and 240Nm at 3,000-5,000rpm. The diesel variant brought in is an OM604 2,155cc that carries 143hp at 4,200rpm and 315Nm at 1,800-2,600Nm. The gasoline engines are smooth cruisers and fast on their feet. If the discussion is going to be the M112 E26 engine, the V6 is creamy and feels stable even at high speeds.

Driving Impressions
Driver or passenger inside, all would be certain that they would enjoy the ride and isolation provided by a Benz. Go in the triple digit speed area and you'll feel the rush, and quietness that no noise comes or intrudes inside the cabin. Seats in all positions are comfortable to sit in and made of quality materials. In no time, you will have the feeling of "I have arrived" in a scene or a gathering. If you are the driver or someone lazy to get behind the wheel, this car is perfect, couple it with the prestige of a Benz.

So, if you are an up-and-coming person on the executive ladder and have a meager but sizable car plan budget, you might want to consider a W210 E-Class. Your boss or the manager may balk at your idea but come to think of it, a Camry V 2.4 would have the looks but depreciation would be takng a hit after three years. Whereas, a W210 E-Class of 10 years or old has taken the depreciation hit but it is indeed timeless and you still have the presence. Convinced much? All you need to do is find a unit in good condition.

The Good:
  • Smooth engine
  • Top notch interior quality
  • The feeling of naka-Chedeng 
The Bad:
  • Disaster pit when not maintained by previous owner
  • Some small controls
  • Maintenance costs
The Pick: E240 Avantgarde

Engines: 2,295cc M111.970 I4, 2,597cc M112 E26 V6 gasoline and 2,155cc OM604 I4 diesel
Power: 163hp (2.3), 170hp @ 5,900rpm (2.6), 143 @ 4,200rpm (2.2 Diesel)
Torque: 220Nm (2.3), 240Nm @ 3,000-5,000rpm (2.6), 315Nm @ 1,800-2,600rpm (2.2 Diesel)
Fuel Consumption: 5-8km/L (city), 8-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 4-speed automatic, 5-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent double wishbone, rear multilink

Price (New): P2,500,000-P3,000,000 (range from 1995-2002)
Price (Now): P600,000-P850,000
Rivals: BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Volvo S60, Volvo S80, Jaguar S Type
On Sale: 1995-2002

CATS Greenhills - 723-5808 
CATS Global City - 815-7777 

Photos courtesy of

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