Review: Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2000 – 2007)

Rating:

Classy looks. Decent boot. Smooth autoboxes. Excellent crash test rating.

A 3 Series is a far better drive. Indicator stalk is awkward to use. Can be heavy on front tyres. Rusts.

Recently Added To This Review

3 July 2019

Report of brake pipe corrosion under 2002 Mercedes Benz S204 C-Class estate, first as an 'advisory' at the MoT in September 2018, then as a requirement at the car's service by a Mercedes Benz dealer... Read more

24 February 2018

Report of front suspension arm of 2004 W203 Mercedes C180 Kompressor Auto Classic SE 4dr Saloon Automatic rusting through and suspension collapsing. Read more

6 October 2017

A combined ABS/ESC dash light might be nothing more than a faulty brake light switch on the brake pedal. Read more

Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2000 – 2007): At A Glance

What does a Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2000 – 2007) cost?

List Price from £29,035
Buy new from £23,397
Contract hire from £262.75 per month

What's the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2000 – 2007) like to drive?

If anything, the new C Class estate cars feel more sporting than the Sports Coupe. At least, the ones I tried did. This could be because of the engines. The C320 V6 simply romped up the twisting road over Col de Vence to Corsegoules. The gearbox and engine were creamily smooth, the ride quality was supple, the handling excellent and the sound of the engine when given its head was sublime. Even the traction control system was unobtrusive, but very necessary once we reached the snow-line.

But the gearbox deserves special praise. It's pretty much the same 5-speed auto that has been fitted to Mercedes either as standard or as an option since 1996. The beauty of it is, you can leave it in fully automatic mode all the time. But if you ever need a lower gear, you simple nudge the lever to the left and it is automatically selected and held for the approaching bend. However once you're through the bend and want a higher gear, the box senses this on its own. Try as I might I could not make a better decision about upshifting than it did, so I only used the manual override for downshifts. It also has the facility to select 3rd gear for winter conditions, which proved very necessary when I wanted to park in a scenic spot above the snowline to take a picture.

I returned the car to MB mightily impressed, then took out a C270CDI automatic. If anything, this was even better. With a narrower power band it didn't hold its gears as long, but the huge torque of 295lb ft from 1,800 to 2,600 rpm, and still 260lb ft from 1,600rpm to 2,800rpm, meant it never came off the boil even if you lifted off when driving uphill then accelerated again. An absolutely tremendous car, which makes the extra cost and inferior economy of the C320 hard to justify. It won't be available in the UK until July rather than May, but this model is definitely well worth waiting the extra two months for.

Next, having been less than ecstatic about the C220 CDI Sequentronic Sport Coupe, I tried the same combination of engine and gearbox in the estate. This time it worked fine, even up and down the demanding Col de Vence. It could be that I'd got used to its characteristics, or it could have been the different road, but the upshifts seemed much more positive than in the Sports Coupe. When left-foot trail-braking through well sighted downhill bends on the Col, keeping the power on with my right foot, the ABS worked perfectly to pull the car through neatly and quickly. Obviously few owners who choose the C220CDI estate are going to drive like this, but it seemed that even the C220CDI Sequentronic estate car was more sporting than the sport coupe.

Lastly I took a C200K Sequentronic estate the short distance to the airport. Though the car will be a popular choice, it was far less satisfactory, making exactly the same disappointing anodyne noises I remember from driving the fully automatic C200K saloon. So if the pricing of the C200K and C220CDI come out roughly similar, I'd definitely go for the CDI.

Equipment levels on the estate are as for the saloon. Classic, Elegance and Avantgarde, with a similar options list as for the coupe, but no panoramic sunroof. The rear area is much larger than the old C Class and the loading lip sensibly low. Capacities with seats up and down are shown in the specification section.

If you've always regarded the MB C Class estate as prestigious but lacking the sporty appeal of a BMW 3-Series, then it's definitely time to think again.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
C180 Kompressor 36–37 mpg 9.7–10.0 s 183–197 g/km
C200 CDI 42–46 mpg 11.7–12.2 s 160–183 g/km
C200 Kompressor 35 mpg 9.1–9.4 s 192–199 g/km
C220 CDI 41–44 mpg 10.1–10.5 s 169–183 g/km
C230 29–30 mpg 8.4–8.6 s 222–237 g/km

Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2000 – 2007)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

94%

Real MPG

17–51 mpg

MPGs submitted

334

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2000 – 2007)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Does our Mercedes-Benz C220 diesel need a new DPF?

We have had a 2004 Mercedes-Benz C220 CDi automatic diesel in Spain for the last 10 years. All was fine until a week after its annual MOT last May, when the Engine Management Light came on and remained on. We took it to an 'English' garage and he put the car on a Mercedes-Benz 'Star' scanner and after this the light went off. We only do short trips now, the longest run is about 35 mins to and from airport, but during these runs we go up hills (not so much steep but long drags uphill) we have to drop a gear manually as the car just hasn't got the pull/power. The garage say we need a new diesel particulate filter and have suggested we buy it and they will fit it. Please could you advise us if this is correct and if we should order any other spare parts.
Reads as if the car was fitted with a DPF and the DPF is now full of ash. They can be cleaned out by the Ceramex process, but I don't know if this can be done in Spain. Probably can be because DPFs of diesel HGVs are routinely cleaned by this process every 80,000 miles or so. That will cost about £350. The alternative is a new DPF which, from Mercedes-Benz, is likely to be the wrong side of £1000.
Answered by Honest John
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