After taking more of a beating than someone affiliated to Uber would take from angry taxi drivers, Mercedes has come up with the Mercedes C Class W204 to regain its honor in the compact saloon segment. Here’s how they did it, in today’s article.
The Mercedes C W203 has been the slow student in the quality control gradings of the automotive world. A car that rusted from the factory and had more issues than Andrew Tate in 2023, which finally was replaced by the Mercedes C Class W204, a very modern car for Mercedes and the times it came in.
What does the new Mercedes W204 bring?
First of all, it was preparing to take the C Class out of the zoster zon..sorry, the entry-level world and it was preparing for the arrival of the new A-Class in 2012 as the new entry-level “Baby Merc”. For this, the Mercedes C Class W204 has done some growing up in design, luxury, reliability, and price departments. There’s no real entry-level model because they all come with enough features to feel like you have the three-pointed star on the hood. The Mercedes C Class W204 is no longer just the aspirational Mercedes, the Mercedes C Class W204 is a full-blown Mercedes. And until 2012 when the new A-Class came along, the Mercedes W204 was the Mercedes of choice for young people who now have their first cash to burn but don’t want something sporty like a BMW 3 Series E90 but also don’t want something flashy like an Audi A4 B8. Plus the Mercedes C Class W204 was about 75% of what an E Class W212 was, which in turn was 75% of an S Class W221. So many preferred to buy a slightly cheaper, slightly smaller, and slightly less equipped almost-E Class. Because the engines were the same. And so was the three-pointed star that showed everyone that life was treating you well.
Mercedes C Class W204 engines
- 1.6 supercharged M274 of 156 horsepower – Coming in 2008 to retire the old 1.8 Turbo, the new 1.6 is actually the same M271 only reduced in capacity. The power is the same, the issues are the same. An entry-level engine for a not-so-entry-level car. Codename C180 Kompressor, which is 1.8 and not quite. Probably too embarrassing to put a 160 Kompressor logo on it.
- 1.8 supercharged M271 of 156 horsepower – The old C180 Kompressor is retiring in 2008, after a long career with good and bad. Not quite like the dark days of the W203, on the W204 it’s a decent engine, even if this M271 has a specific issue. If you want an engine without too much hassle, a C180 Kompressor is a safe choice.
- 1.8 supercharged M271 of 184 and 204 horsepower – the C200 Kompressor comes on the Mercedes C Class W204 to provide the performance needed for a premium saloon. Same M271 only upped to 184 horsepower.
- 2.5 V6 M272 of 204 horsepower – The old M272 is at the end of its road on the Mercedes C Class W204. It comes with old issues, a sign that Mercedes didn’t bother to correct another engine at the end of its career. Engine found on the C 230 and C 250.
- 3.0 V6 M272 of 231 horsepower – M272 in the middle power version, this 3.0 V6 made history rather on the Mercedes CLS, but somehow made it to the C 280 and C 300.
- 3.5 V6 M276 of 272 and 292 horsepower – With such an engine, the W204 is already transformed from the smiling Tom Jones into the straight up Funkstar De Luxe. Another rather CLS-sourced torpedo, this M272 is ready to send its pistons flying through the bonnet at 1 million rpm.
- 6.2 V8 M156 of 457 and 480 horsepower – Fitted to the C 63 AMG, this engine deserves its own article. Just know that this engine eats more tires than petrol.
- 2.2d 4-cylinder OM646 and OM651 of 120, 136, 170, and 204 horsepower – The ancient OM646 is retired in 2010 by the OM651 and has been put in everything from the Sprinter to the S Class. Two legendary engines capable of billions of miles. That’s when they’re not being serviced thanks to piezo injectors that have a habit of giving up faster than someone binge drinking vodka + energy drink. Beware that injectors need to be calibrated after fitting, so don’t go to dodgy service shops just because they’re cheaper. The engine codes are C180 CDI for the 120 horsepower, C200 CDI for 136 horsepower, C220 CDI for 170 horsepower, and C250 CDI for 204 horsepower.
- 3.0 V6 OM642 of 224 and 231 horsepower – An engine that rather belongs in the E Class or S Class, the base engine of Mercedes barges into the Mercedes C Class W204 it’s kind of an stretch. The C320 and C350 CDI are two codes for the same OM 642 and it’s good to know you can. You don’t need it, but you can have it. Have you ever wished for something, without knowing exactly why? That’s the way it is with this engine. A relatively reliable engine, but dependent on quality oil changed frequently, just like modern BMWs. Do you change oil often and only use quality oil? The engine has a long life. Don’t you respect that? The engine gets knocked out almost like Beyonce. Daily. Ah yeh, watch out for the oil cooler, which tends to leak oil on the engine . And it’s not that the seals are expensive to buy, it’s just that the oil cooler sits deep inside the V.
Mercedes C Class W204 General Issues
- Sometimes the computer doesn’t read the key so take both keys with you. You don’t have to work at NASA to figure out what it means for the car to not read your key.
- The V6 petrol engines, codenamed M272 and M273 come with the same situations as the W203 and Mercedes C Class W204, namely the balancer shaft and timing misalignment. Also, if the timing chain jumps out and into the engine at the same time the N-Sync band will jump out of the glovebox singing “Bye-bye bye”. And it’s spinning it’s life at the back of the engine, in true german fashion.
- The common issue with Mercedes diesel engines also plagues the Mercedes C Class W204. Affectionately referred to as the “black plague”, it’s due to the injector seals, seals made from fluff and chewing gum. The injectors start to leak unprocessed diesel that builds up on the engine and if you leave it like this for long enough you will run out of the engine. Bonus points for the 2.2 cdi engine for piezo injector issues.
- Uneven front tire wear due to geometry that needs to be done often because Mercedes didn’t even bother to rectify all the issues from the previous generation. Just like a voter who only votes with their gut, not their brain, must leave a few issues to the next generation to complain about.
- 7G-Tronic automatic transmissions have a questionable reputation for reliability so it’s important to stick to the 60,000 km oil change interval. Very important to test the car in the morning in the cool to observe the behavior of the gearbox.
- The plastic door handles are in one piece with the door. To change them you have to take the door off completely and so the handle itself is not worth as much as the labor. Basically, you’re doing a hand job on a handle. Did you laugh? Didn’t you? Okay, I’ll walk myself out.
- The M271 engine, code names C180 Kompressor and C200 Kompressor is notorious for timing chain tensioner issues. Looks like the Germans really don’t know their way around a timing chain.
- The leather seats crack prematurely and the stitching tears as badly as Boxxy cracked through the internet in 2005. AH yes, those were the times to be alive.
Mercedes C Class W204 Verdict
The Mercedes C Class W204 started out as the entry-level Mercedes and over time became a 75% E Klass. And for many people maybe that’s all they need. As with any Mercedes, it’s vital to buy the facelift version. Nobody fixes the issues with the facelift model like Mercedes does. Personally, I think if you’re going to buy Mercedes at least do it in style and get an E Klass straight away and dynamite your bank account in style. However, if you don’t want to do that and don’t want to sleep under the bridge but knowing that you have the keys to a Mercedes, a C Class does the job too.
Which engine do you recommend? For a simple, trouble-free Mercedes C Class W204 I recommend the C180 Kompressor with a manual gearbox and cloth upholstery. For the full experience, I recommend the 170 horsepower C220 CDI, automatic transmission, and also cloth upholstery.