If until a few years ago the Mercedes E Class W210 was the official car of the low-income-high-body count albanian, today the W210 is starting to become a classic car, bought by those 2 enthusiasts of probably the worst Mercedes after the first A-Class but not quite as bad as the Vaneo.
Yes, that A Class that rolled over spectacularly during the moose test. And the Mercedes E Class W210 is part of the dark ages of Mercedes aka worst quality chariots from Mercedes in recent history. They were so bad that Amy Schumer’s jokes are funny in comparison. They were so bad that train station fast food looked like gourmet food compared to them.
How did we get here?
After the W124 and other previous cars nearly bankrupted them, Mercedes decided that from now on the cars will be built with budgets set by marketing and accounting, not engineers. The issue was that the previous cars were so reliable that people stopped buying new cars because they didn’t need to and so Mercedes almost went bankrupt by the 90s, a victim of their own success. Why buy a new car, when the current one will outlast you?
So they fiddled with the technology and the quality and put more plastic where they should have put metal, but the biggest mistake was that they used water-based paint in it’s early stages of the development and that’s how the Mercedes E Class W210 and the rest of the cars of the generation are famous for excessive rust.
But what about the rest of the car?
Mercedes E Class W210 Engines
- 2.0 MPI of 140 horsepower – The simplest engine in the Mercedes E Class W210, with no particular issues. Sure, later in life it will demand extra oil and spark plugs, but that’s about it. Still, it’s like wanting to buy an apartment in Bristol for just 100,000 euros. It’s just as aspirational.
- 2.0 Kompressor of 179, 186, and 192 horsepower – Same 2.0 MPI just with a mechanical compressor strapped and Kompressor engines of this era are famous for their galactic gas consumption. But at least it runs. Fast. Very fast.
- 2.3 MPI of 150 horsepower – Biggest of inline 4 cylinder petrol engines, but only 10 horsepower more muscular than the 2.0 but the much heavier on taxes. Even worse, it sits in the same tax bracket as the 170 horsepower 2.6 V6s and gets about the same gas mileage so if you’re going to go beyond the 2 litre bracket, at least go all the way.
- 2.4 V6 of 170 horsepower – Same discussion, except here we have the smallest V6 on the list and that means you have more parts to change and the timing costs more, so go even further beyond.
- 2.6 V6 of 170 horsepower – I mean this one. At 2597 cc it’s borderline civilized tax. It doesn’t run as much as it chuggs on petrol or as you’d expect, but at least it sounds responsible. By far the most balanced engine if you want something collectible and weekend able.
- 2.8 MPI of 193 and 200 horsepower – Models before 1997 have 193 horsepower and inline 6 cylinders and those after 1997 are V6, but power, fuel economy, and reliability are pretty much all the same.
- 3.2 MPI of 220 and 224 horsepower – Pre-1997 models have 220 horsepower and inline 6 cylinders and post-1997 models are V6. But we’ve already entered the tax stratosphere and this engine doesn’t make sense anymore. Go straight for a V8.
- 3.6 l-6 of 280 horsepower – E36 AMG was more of an automotive curiosity and there’s not much point in talking about it because you won’t find it anyway.
- 4.3 V8 of 279 horsepower – The legendary 4.3 V8 was one of the best Mercedes engines ever made. Sure, the only issue was with the stretchy timing rollers that were made of plastic, but they’ve probably have been replaced by now.
- 5.0 V8 of 348 horsepower – If the E36 AMG is rare, wait till you see this one. And if you do find it, I wouldn’t recommend it because you literally won’t find parts for it.
- 5.5 V8 of 350 horsepower – As with the 4.3 V8, the 5.5 V8 M113 has no specific issues so you can buy it without any worries.
- 6.0 V8 of 380 horsepower – Or this one. Usually reserved on the S600 W140, somehow you can find it on the E60 AMG too except it was only produced 1 year so good luck finding one.
- 6.3 V8 of 405 horsepower – Or an E63 AMG which was essentially a special edition of a special edition. Yes, we’re still in the era of giant engines on Mercedes.
- 2.0D of 88 horsepower – No.
- 2.2 CDI of 95, 102, 116, 125, and 143 horsepower – The only one you don’t want is the 95 horsepower one because it’s an old engine whose acceleration is measured with timing. Seriously, 0-60 in 17 hours??? As for the rest, they’re the legendary CDI engines of which we will talk about in the general section.
- 2.5 diesel of 113 and 150 horsepower – Another very old engine from a bygone ear, which nobody wants. Maybe just the 150 horsepower one. Maybe.
- 2.7 CDI of 170 horsepower – The legendary 2.7 CDI that made and still makes a splash on the first ML for its increased reliability. In fact, it’s so good that even on the W211 it made waves and is one of the most reliable diesels ever made.
- 2.9D of 129 horsepower – If you look at what this engine can do on the Sprinter, you’ll realize that this is the famous million-mile engine. How many centuries it takes get to the million miles mark, that is another discussion.
- 3.0D of 130 and 170 horsepower – And we’re almost done with the engines on the Mercedes E Class W210.
- 3.2 CDI of 193 horsepower – With the 6-cylinder version of the 2.7 CDI and by default one of the most famous and reliable engines on Mercedes, the 3.2 CDI was famous on the W220 S Class and it was basically it’s 6 cylinder brother.
Mercedes E Class W210 General Issues
- Okay, let’s quickly get to the main topic and that is the rust. The Mercedes E Class W210 is most of the time a rustbucket and the issues are not just aesthetic, the concerns are real. The most common issue is with the shock absorber housings which rust away and throw you spectacularly into another dimension when you take on a pothole. The pothole will win, and you will remain stranded.
- Engines use a lot of plastic seals where metal should and if you add the fact that it’s an old car, you’ll have to change a lot of seals and pipes.
- The air conditioning often gives you issues on both the cooling and heating side so either get used to it or get a parka.
- Electric window motors are another situation you should care about. Probably.
- Finally, I’m tired of writing but I’ll mention the CDI engines and the famous injector seal issues, and in case of serious wear even the injectors altogether. We’ve been talking about injector seals in Mercedes alot on this sorry attempt of an website and this is where the party starts.
Mercedes E Class W210 Verdict
From the worst Mercedes in terms of reliability, it is starting to turn into a collector’s car for enthusiasts. Reminds me a lot of the A4 B5, another car bought equally by those with a 500 euro budget and a chronic pain in the rear about what they drive, and those who are passionate about cars, drive. What I can wish to this rustbucket is only good luck! It will need it.
What engines do you recommend? For petrol clearly E240 2.6 V6 170hp and for diesel E220cdi 150hp if you don’t have the budget and E270cdi 170hp if you have the budget.