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Mercedes-Benz C220 2004 review

Prices range from $51,790 for the six-speed manual 180K sport coupe to a heady $159,900 for the AMG.
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The initial styling, characterised by twin headlights melding together like beads of mercury, has weathered well the passing of time.

So much so that Mercedes has been able to make only token changes to the line-up for the second half of its model life, without risking a meltdown in demand.

A nd that will do wonders for residual values of cars built over the past four years – endearing the model to buyers and prompting them to remain faithful to the marque.

The educated eye will spot an increase in track which gives the C-Class a much broader, sporty stance. A redesigned front bumper with an enlarged air intake, new three-slat radiator grille and clear lens headlights combine for a fresh new look.

Then there are new-design light-alloy wheels and, to beef up the appeal of C-Class to younger drivers, sporty side skirts and rear bumpers have been added to the Avantgarde.

The cabin has come in for fairly dramatic change. Four chronometer-style instruments headline changes to the dashboard.

Chrome trim has found its way on to the fascia, along with new switchgear.

Even the base-grade Classic gets new wood trim around the centre console, with aluminium and maple optional on the Avantgarde.

Under the skin, there has been fine-tuning to the suspension and steering to enhance the handling dynamics.

The output of the C220CDI diesel has gone up from 105kW to 110kW.

And to add even more sparkle to what already is a shining star of the Mercedes range, a long-lasting paint, claimed to offer greater scratch resistance, has been used.

There are many other small changes which further add value to this exceptional package.

C-Class continues to be made up of four-door sedans, two-door sports coupes and an estate, with engines ranging from a 105kW, 1.8-litre, four-cylinder to the fiery 368kW, 5.4-litre 55AMG range topper.

Prices range from $51,790 for the six-speed manual 180K sport coupe to a heady $159,900 for the AMG.

On test was the 200K Kompressor sedan, competitive at $63,990 for the five-speed automatic and $60,890 for the six-speed manual.

Mercedes-Benz is a master when it comes to ride and handling and offers its owners a special version of the common road-feel characteristic of all German cars.

The Silver Star has this knack of tuning suspension which is nice and compliant for top-level ride comfort yet firm enough to strap down the body for exemplary handling.

And the steering ratio is cleverly fashioned to offer sharp response while still achieving good poise and road-feel at touring speed.

The 200K uses the same cylinder head and block as the 180K, identical bore and stroke but a different compression ratio.

This results in 120kW of power and 240Nm of torque as opposed to 105kW of power and 220Nm of torque.

Zero to 100km/h is 9.1 seconds in the 200K and 9.7 seconds in the 180K, while the top speed is 234km/h compared with 223km/h.

On paper, those values may not read like a major power boost. But when driven back-to-back, the C200 Kompressor – $7000 more than the 180K entry model – really feels substantially more powerful.

With 1485kg to haul around, the multi-valve four hardly delivers muscle car performance.

But when good use is made of the sequential automatic, the car can be provoked into quite respectable action – certainly fast enough for suburban use. Response to kickdown or manual down-changes is rapid enough to complete highway overtaking quickly and safely.

This writer really likes the sideways action of the sequential manual shift.

Even when revved out, the supercharged engine remains free from harshness and noise never reaches unacceptable levels.

The suspension – a three link setup at the front with MacPherson struts and multi-link arrangement at the rear – works well for good handling when the car is driven hard on twisting country roads.

Lock-to-lock manoeuvres fail to confuse the car. And the model is superbly stable and safe, with the help of anti-lock brakes, electronic brake assist and stability control.

The comfort level of the cabin is right up to the Mercedes mark – and so are the multitude of features which make the difference.

There was little, if anything, to criticise about the former model. But mid-life changes turn the interior into something quite special.

Merc has always made good, supportive seats. Strangers to the marque may feel the seats are unnecessarily firm. But they feel more comfortable the longer the journey.

At a glance
IT is interesting to watch the reaction of strangers to the world of Mercedes when one informs them the C-Class starts at $51,790. There was a time when the "cooking model" Merc 190 came with a few instruments, heater and none of the luxuries of life. The Silver Star was probably the car's prime attraction – along with its superior engineering and solid construction.

The C-Class – the progeny of the 190 – now enjoys many hi-tech items handed down from the expensive models. Anti-lock brakes revolutionised deceleration in 1980 – and then it was available only in the S-Class.

In sum, C-Class gets better and better. And competition in the luxury segment has ensured prices have remained at affordable levels.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

C320 Evolution 3.2L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $12,300 – 17,820 2004 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2004 C320 Evolution Pricing and Specs
C320 Evolution AMG 3.2L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $13,000 – 18,810 2004 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2004 C320 Evolution AMG Pricing and Specs
C230 Kompressor 1.8L, ULP, 6 SP MAN $9,100 – 13,750 2004 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2004 C230 Kompressor Pricing and Specs
C230 Kompressor Evolution 1.8L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $10,000 – 15,070 2004 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2004 C230 Kompressor Evolution Pricing and Specs
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