Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class (W204) 2008-2014

The most desirable German executive saloon in its segment

By Shahzad Sheikh

Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class (W204) 2008-2014

If you don’t count the Mercedes 190 E from the 1980s, which the C-Class replaced in 1993, then the current model, introduced in 2007 (2008 model year) is the third generation of Mercedes’ smallest saloon (until the CLA came along of course!). And for Mercedes this is a uniquely successful model in its Middle East range.

Read our original review here.

In most other markets, Mercedes, BMW and Audi find their smaller cars to be the biggest sellers, but in our region, they’ve always experience what’s known as an upside-down pyramid. The biggest four-door variants are the most popular with purchasers – such as the S-Class, 7 Series and the A8 respectively.

Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class (W204) 2008-2014

So BMW 3 series and Audi A4 sales are a mere blip by comparison. The Mercedes C-Class on the other hand is the one that’s bucked that trend and has proven something of a mild hit for the Three Pointed Star.

And it’s not just buyers scrimping and saving hard to trade up into a Mercedes for the first time, but also buyers of higher end cars that are looking for something a little smaller but still classy.

All of which is good news for used buyers because it means there are plenty of late model examples available for sale, and most are generally well kept and look after. Here’s our Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class W204.

Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class (W204) 2008-2014

Why buy it?

Because you can get into a relatively recent baby Mercedes for as little as AED60,000 – the price of a new Honda City!

Plus this was not only a better, more modern looking C compared to its predecessor – with a much nicer interior too – but it was also better built, boasts a brilliant ride, is a comfortable car to be in, serves up the refinement you’d expect in a Mercedes and, perhaps more surprisingly, is genuinely satisfying and entertaining to drive.

Safety is another reason to buy this car, it was run through thousands of virtual simulations during early development and then put through 100 crash tests, passing each one.

Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class (W204) 2008-2014

Why not buy it?

For something a little less ostentatious try the Audi A4, for something sportier to drive, definitely opt for the BMW 3 series, and if you need more space, try the E-Class instead. The earlier smaller-engined models also feel a little slow.

Running costs are likely to be a little higher than say a Honda Accord, or even the Lexus IS (another good option in this segment) and parts could get pricey (though you should look to get one with an extended or aftermarket warranty to cover eventualities).

Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class (W204) 2008-2014

Model details

  • It was offered as a C180, C200, C250, C230, C280 and the C350 – the AMG C63 high performance variant is not covered by this guide.
  • C180 – 1.8-litre four-cylinder 16-valve supercharged engine producing 154bhp and 170lb ft of torque, 0-100kph is about 10 seconds and top speed is around 220kph. Torque increased to 184lb ft from 2010-2012 – badged C180 CGI Blue Efficiency. The C180s had five-speed automatics.
  • C200 – 1.8-litre four-cylinder 16-valve supercharged engine producing 181bhp and 184lb ft of torque. From 2010 this was replaced with a turbocharged unit with torque now at 199lb ft and badged C200 CGI Blue Efficiency. The C200s had five-speed automatics.
  • C230 – 2.5-litre V6 engine producing 201bhp and 181lb ft of torque and featuring a 7-speed automatic with paddleshifts. Discontinued in 2009.
  • C250 CGI Blue Efficiency replaced the C230 for 2010. But it’s a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit now producing 201bhp and 229lb ft of torque still with the 7-speed auto.
  • C280 – 3.0-litre V6 engine producing 228bhp and 221lb ft of torque with the 7-speed auto ran till 2010. 0-100kph acceleration was in about 7.5seconds.
  • C300 arrived for 2010 to replace the C280 but featured identical figures but better economy. It had a 7-speed auto.
  • C350 till 2010 featured a 3.5-litre V6 producing  268bhp and 258lb ft of torque using a 7-speed auto. It had a 0-100kph time of 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 250kph.

Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class (W204) 2008-2014

  • The C350 CGI Blue Efficiency from 2011 also featured a 3.5-litre V6, but now it produced 306bhp with 273lb ft of torque giving it a 0-100kph time of just 6 seconds, limited to 250kph and driving through a 7 speed auto.
  • All C-Class models are rear-wheel drive, although all-wheel drive was available in some markets. Some base model examples were offered in manual transmissions, but these would be extremely rare if they exist here at all.
  • Four trims levels include Classic, Elegance, Avantgarde plus an AMG package.
  • Classic is the base model with cloth seats and only available on the four-cylinder engines.
  • Elegance has ARTICO leather (vinyl) upholstery with leather optional.
  • Classic and Elegance have a regular grille with an upright three-pointed star bonnet emblem.
  • Avantgarde has ARTICO fabric upholstery with leather optional. Along with the AMG spec cars, it also has a three-slat grille featuring a large centre-mounted star and no bonnet mascot.
  • AMG package also gets a bodykit, lowered sports suspension, upgraded brakes and larger alloy wheels. This is the most popular spec for the car in the UAE.
  • Blue Efficiency models were more economical due to various weight-saving technologies and implementations including lighter glass, sound insulation, forged lightweight wheels, plus low rolling resistance tyres from Michelin, and reduced air resistance by lowering drag thanks to underbody cladding. The suspension was also lowered by 15mm.

Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class (W204) 2008-2014

Which one to buy?

Try to get a C-Class fitted with the AMG package, you’ll pay a little more, but not only does the baby Benz look smart, it’ll make it easier to sell on later.

It might be a little obvious, but we’d also opt for the most powerful iteration we could get. It just suits the nature of the Mercedes, and also exploits what is actually quite an entertaining chassis to drive.

Our recommendation, then, is a C350 with AMG kit, although they’re a bit harder to track down and you might have to take the more expensive dealer-network route to find one.

Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class (W204) 2008-2014

What to look out for?

  • Fairly robust car, much better built than the previous C-Class, so there aren’t really too many issues of concern. Most problems seem to revolve around electrical gremlins involving sensors. Far fewer faults reported on 2010-onwards cars.
  • Full service history is essential, check with the servicing dealer to ensure all recall and service bulletin work has been carried out. Try to get one with an extended warranty.
  • If the car has a full service history, do not be concerned with high mileages, the Mercedes is designed and engineered to do long runs – use it as a bargaining chip to get the price down!
  • There were some issues reported with the transmission on 2011-on cars, but these were fixed under regular servicing.
  • Report of a premature wear of timing chain sprocket for balancer shaft on V6 versions – could be costly. Check with your local dealer to see if any work has been done on this for the car you are looking at.
  • Check the bumpers of older cars finished in solid red, some cars have had paint problems.
  • Ensure there is no free-play in the steering which should feel positive and accurate.
  • Check the brakes, pads can wear and discs are also prone to wear and can be costly to replace, so check them during the test drive. Replacement will be costly and not covered under warranty.
  • Warning lights have been known to appear on the dashboard – it’s vital to always get these checked out by your dealer, fortunately most come on merely due to faulty sensors.
  • On 2008-09 models, if you detect a knocking noise while parking, it may be caused by the hydro-bushing – there is a dealer fix for this.

Used Buying Guide Mercedes C-Class (W204) 2008-2014

What to pay?

Although it is possible to find early 2008 four-cylinder cars for less than AED60,000, we’d avoid the bottom end of the market for a car like this, and find the best example possible with proof of being well maintained and looked after. So budget for not less than AED80,000.

Post 2010 models appear to be better built with fewer problems and feature more economical engines. But you’re looking at AED90k to get into a nice C200 of this vintage although they do go up to and beyond AED145k for the best and newest examples.

At a year old the people still seem to be expecting premium prices for them, but we don’t recommend you go much higher than AED120k on one of these. Since a new generation 2015 C180 starts from AED148,000, if you’re going to spend that sort of money, you might as well stretch to a new car or check out the dealer demo or nearly-new stock.

Prices correct at the time of posting.

Let us know your experiences of owning/buying a W204 Mercedes C-Class in the comments below.

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