Monday, October 15, 2012

Used Car Review - Mercedes Benz C Class (2000-2006)

As we travel to the Berlin Wall and the numerous castles Germany has to offer, Myk Belmonte thinks about this car that could be a perfect road trip companion. And if you want to ride in comfort, this could be the next car you've wanted to sit your bum on.

2000-2006 Mercedes Benz C Class

A hint of trivia: The Mercedes Benz W201 aka the "Baby Benz" and the C Class that preceded it were the smallest and entry level Benzes that you can buy until the arrival of the very small A Class in 1997. Buying entry level models of premium marques are not a crime especially if you are after the badge right? But the experience and level of respect is a different matter. With that in mind, a sedan which is offered in exorbitant prices is a good to go for luxury brands.

With the naming nomenclature changed in 1993, the Benz 190E was renamed as the C Class starting with the W202 model. But let's discuss about the W203 model that was made available in March 2000. Bet you didn't know that development started as early as 1994, followed with the approval of the design in April 1998 and March 1999, testing of prototypes was conducted in the late 90s, and a final development made in late 1999. They may start earlier but the results were worth it, especially with the multitude of engine choices, transmission options, and body styles. Throughout the W203's life, more than two million units had been sold worldwide. The W204 C Class replaced this in 2007 internationally.

The W203 C Class arrived at the Philippines together with the world market in year 2000. At first, it had the 2.0 engine but with an update in 2004 ditched the dos litros engine in favor of a 1.8 powerplant. Sales shouldered until 2007, with the W204 being offered to Benz buyers.

Value and Costs
Despite nearly 10 years old, you can get a W203 C Class for P850,000-P950,000, more expensive than the equivalent year model of a E46 3 Series. If possible, hunt for a unit in the pre-owned section of CATS since they are inspected and backed-up with a warranty. Avoid second hand units from Japan without saying, since problems may boom one by one.

Taking care of a Benz is more expensive than your ordinary Japanese sedan. Keep a keen eye on worn leather trim, since the culprit here is the usage of strong solvent when cleaning by the previous owner. Oil and coolant changes must be done religiously, seeing them break (both the engine and radiator) would be costly to fix and as I said in my previous articles, it would be embarrassing to see a luxury car break down due to a lazy owner.

Exterior and Interior
If there is one strength of the brand as a whole, it would be their designs. The W203 evolved from the predecessors cornered sides to possessing curves. The headlights of this model used the double-ovoid design and ditched the pizza-like taillights. See the slightly swept-back grille with the hood mounted ornament? It does give the Benz tradition. Never an awkward line can be seen or too much funny a design cue is evident.

You will feel at home with the W203's interior, especially if you own any previous model Benzes. Ergonomics are taken into consideration while designing the car, and this is a plus point. The information display screen would take time to master especially in switching screens. The IR security key fob comes standard as it does not necessitate the need to insert the key when opening the doors or trunk, a press of a button does that although you have to insert it and treat the key as an ordinary one. Room for everyone is aplenty and you can sit on the front seat or the back seat.

We didn't get to have a V6 option due to the taxation systems we had regarding engine displacements. Two four cylinder engines with supercharging are the choices. From 2000-2003, a M111.940 1,998cc which has 160hp at 5,300rpm and 224Nm at 2,500-4,800rpm was the sole choice. If you bought your W203 brand new between 2004 to 2006, you might have the E18ML 1,796cc that has 141hp at 5,200rpm and 220Nm at 2,500-4,200rpm under the hood of your unit. Both engines have wide torque ranges which translates to a just responsive cruise that befits the theme of the vehicle.

Driving Impressions
Fire up the ignition of the C Class and you'll be pampered with the silent sound of the supercharged four pot engine. Give the accelerator some push and you'll be treated with the sudden surge, similar to an eagle catching its prey. Ride comfort is superb except when hitting the crater size hole in the middle of the road, as with all Chedengs. Drive it on the open road and get the maximum satisfaction but do it prudently, or it may damage the suspension system.

Are you the type of person who wants to be behind the front seats all the time? Or the type of person who want to get behind the wheel? The C Class in W203 platform is a good package. If you want one, go buy one. Besides, old or new, it is still a Benz!

The Good:
  • Comfortable ride
  • More features in the revised version
  • That Benz badge
The Bad:
  • Not the drivers car
  • Small engine options
  • Lack of items in first models
The Pick: 2004-2006 models, to have more kit

Engines: 1,796cc E18ML (2004-2006) and 1,998cc M111.940 (2000-2003) I4 supercharged, 2,597cc E26 V6 gasoline
Power: 141hp @ 5,200rpm (1.8), 160hp @ 5,300rpm (2.0), 170hp @ 5,500rpm (2.6)
Torque: 220Nm @ 2,500-4,200rpm (1.8), 224Nm @ 2,500-4,800rpm (2.0), 240Nm @ 4,500rpm (2.6)
Fuel Consumption: 5-7km/L (city), 8-11km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Suspension: Front McPherson strut, rear multi-link

Price (New): P2,600,000-P3,100,000
Price (Now): P850,000-P950,000
Rivals: BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Volvo S40
On Sale: 2000-2006

CATS Pre-Owned - 723-5808

Photos courtesy of

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