Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W203)
Pre-facelift Mercedes-Benz C 200 K sedan (Australia)
|Production||July 2000 – December 2006|
|Assembly||Germany: Bremen; and Sindelfingen
Brazil: Juiz de Fora
South Africa: East London
India: Pune (CKD)
Malaysia: Pekan (CKD)
Thailand: Samutprakan (CKD)
Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City (CKD)
Indonesia: Wanaherang (CKD)
|Designer||Bruno Sacco, Peter Pfeiffer (1995)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupe
5-door station wagon
1.8–2.3 L M111 I4
|Wheelbase||2,715 mm (106.9 in)|
|Length||Sedan: 4,526 mm (178.2 in)
Wagon: 4,541 mm (178.8 in)
SportCoupe: 4,343 mm (171.0 in)
|Width||1,728 mm (68.0 in)|
|Height||Sedan: 1,426 mm (56.1 in)
Wagon: 1,465 mm (57.7 in)
Coupe: 1,406 mm (55.4 in)
Design work on the W203 C-Class began in mid-1994, with the final design being approved in December 1995 by the executive board. Design patents were filed on 20 April 1998 and 4 March 1999. Testing began in 1997, with development concluding in 2000. The second generation C-Class was introduced in March 2000. The sedan debuted with a range of inline-four and V6 petrol engines and inline-four and -five diesels. Most of the engines were carried over from the W202, but the C 320 was exclusive, offering 160 kW (218 PS). The diesels now featured common rail direct fuel injection and variable geometry turbochargers. Six-speed manual gearboxes were now standard for the entire range, except the C 320.
Mercedes-Benz debuted a coupe variant in October 2000, labelled the C-Class SportCoupé and given the model designation CL203 (see below). The third body variant, a station wagon codenamed S203 arrived in 2001. Then in 2002 for the 2003 model year, a new family of supercharged four cylinder engines, dubbed M271, debuted for the entire range C-Class range. All of them used the same 1.8-litre engine, with different designations according to horsepower levels, including a version powered by natural gas. The C 230 Kompressor variant sported 142 kW (190 hp). The newer 1.8-litre was less powerful but smoother and more efficient than the older 2.3-litre engine (141 kW (192 PS) compared to 142 kW (193 PS). For the C 240 and C 320, 4MATIC four-wheel drive versions were also offered in addition to rear-wheel drive.
Along with the C-Class Estate (wagon), the SportCoupé was discontinued in Canada and the United States after the 2005 model year. The SportCoupé continued on sale in other markets until 2008. From October 2000 until 2007, a total of 230,000 SportCoupé were built in the Bremen factory and in Brazil.
As of 20 Sep 2006, over two million C-Class vehicles (including sedan, station wagon and SportCoupé) had been sold since March 2000, with 1.4 million sedans since May 2000, 330,000 wagons since spring 2001, 283,000 Sports Coupé since spring 2001. Over 30 percent of total sales occurred in Germany, and over 20 percent in the United States. The last W203 C-Class sedan was produced on 14 December 2006 at the Sindelfingen plant.
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The C-Class W203 was refreshed in early 2004. In North America, the refresh took effect for the 2005 model year. The interior styling was changed in all three body styles. The instrument cluster was revised to display a set of analogue gauges, and the center console and audio systems were revised. A fully integrated iPod connection kit was available as was a better Bluetooth phone system made optional. For the North American market C 230, the "sport" package was made standard which included AMG edition bumpers, side skirts, and a rear spoiler.
Several all-new M272 and OM642 V6 engines were introduced later in the year. In North America, the changes took effect for the 2006 model year. The C 230, C 280, C 350 replaced the C 240 and C 320, the new-generation six-cylinder engines developed substantially more power than the older versions, by as much as 24 percent, whilst also increasing fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions. The C 230, C 280 and C 350 developed 150 kW (204 PS), 170 kW (231 PS) and 200 kW (272 PS) respectively. The three-valve twin spark design was replaced by a four-valve design, now with variable valve timing. On the diesel side, Mercedes-Benz released a brand-new 3.0-litre V6. Fitted to the C 320 CDI, the new diesel cut CO2 emissions and fuel consumption over the old C 270 CDI, and increased outputs to 165 kW (224 PS) and its torque of 510 N·m (380 lb·ft) made it the worlds most powerful diesel at the time. The C 220 CDI received a power increase from 105 to 110 kW (143 to 150 PS). In addition, these engines also received the new seven-speed 7G-Tronic automatic transmission.
AMG models (2001–2007)
After the performance of the AMG models in the previous generation, Mercedes-Benz attempted to increase sales among high-end buyers by introducing two different AMG versions of the new model in 2001. The C 32 AMG scaled back down to a 3.2-litre V6 engine, to match the E46 M3 displacement and improve weight distribution, but it required a twin-screw type supercharger (manufactured by IHI) to reach 260 kW (354 PS) and 450 N·m (332 lb·ft). Like its predecessors, it used a five-speed automatic, helping it to complete a 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) sprint within 5.2 seconds. The C 32 AMG Sportcoupe was only offered by request as an AMG STUDIO order. This car was produced only in 2003 and the production numbers are unknown. The C 32 was mainly sold as a sedan. However, a limited run of C 32 station wagons were made for some markets.
C 30 CDI
Another version was the C 30 CDI AMG, using a 3.0-litre five-cylinder diesel engine, capable of 170 kW (231 PS) and 540 N·m (398 lb·ft). Like the C 32, it was available in all three body styles, but this diesel model did not reach sales expectations and was retired in 2004. The car's exterior resembled that of the C 32 AMG. This was the only diesel AMG produced.
Along with the mid-generation refresh of the C-Class in 2005, the C 32 AMG was also replaced, giving way to a new 5.4-litre naturally aspirated V8-powered C 55 AMG. This was an evolution of the V8 engine found in the previous E-Class, with power raised to 270 kW (367 PS) and torque climbing to 510 N·m (376 lb·ft). The C 55 AMG uses a V8 from the same engine family as the W202 generation C 43 AMG. Though maximum speed is still limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), the 0 to 100 km/h (0 to 62 mph) time has dropped to 4.7 seconds. Unlike the less-powerful V6s in the rest of the Mercedes-Benz lineup, the C 55 AMG continued to use the five-speed automatic with AMG Speedshift. The C 55 shares its longer front end design with the CLK 55 AMG to accommodate the large 5.4-litre engine. The C 55 AMG is the only AMG model to feature different structure than its base Mercedes platform. The C 55 was the first AMG C-Class to feature quad exhaust outlets and an external differential cooler. The Nürburgring Nordschleife lap time seen on List of Nürburgring Nordschleife lap times for the C 55 AMG is 8:22 compared to 8:37 for the C 32 AMG mainly due to the revised suspension and extra torque. The C 55 was mainly sold as a sedan with a portion of wagons being sold in European markets.
2000–2008: SportCoupé (CL203 )
Introduced to Europe in October 2000, the C-Class SportCoupé (codenamed CL203) was a three-door hatchback coupe with a fastback profile, based on the regular W203 C-Class range. North American sales began in 2001 for the 2002 model year.
While the C-Class sedan and wagon had the traditional Mercedes horizontal bar grille with the hood ornament, the coupé had a star-grille front end. The coupé also had a swooping fastback roofline, and a functional rear spoiler at the short rear end that added downforce on the rear tires at high speeds. One exclusive option to the coupé was a panorama sunroof that was intended to make the rear seats feel less cramped. The coupé was seven inches (178 mm) shorter overall compared to the sedan but both share the same wheelbase length.
Initial engine options comprised the C 180 (139 PS), C 220 (143 PS), C 200 Kompressor, and C 230 Kompressor. In 2003, Mercedes-Benz added the C 180 Kompressor, followed by the C 200 CGI in 2003, and finally the C 160 Kompressor in 2005. The C 230 SportCoupé was powered by a 2.3-litre supercharged, four-cylinder motor. It offered 143 kW (192 hp) and 270 N·m (200 lb·ft) of torque. However, the supercharged inline-four engine was considered to be coarse and noisy at the high end.
While BMW's 3-Series hatchback was criticized as looking like a full-sized 3-series with the rear chopped off, the Sportcoupé's fastback profile was considered a more stylist off-shoot of the C-Class sedan. While the C 230 base model enabled the automaker to reach a lower price point than existing models sold in North America, some suggested that the hatchback configuration (as "liftback" is almost never used in North America) and the "inexpensive Mercedes" moniker would undermine the marque which was traditionally composed of expensive cars. It also lacked standard leather seats and a CD player, amenities typically expected of German luxury imports (especially a Mercedes).
Like the BMW 3-Series hatchback, the SportCoupé proved unpopular with the younger buyers it was targeted towards, due to high prices compared to the lower entry-level models it was competing against, as well as unfavorable exchange rates. The C 230 Sport Coupe and the C 320 Sport Coupe were the two most inexpensive models in the U.S. and Canadian C-Class lineup at the time.
2008–2011: CLC-Class (CL203)
The SportCoupé was spun off into its own separate line called the CLC-Class in 2008. The car was presented at the 2008 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, which took place from 27 to 31 January. The CLC was produced in Brazil at the company’s plant in Juiz de Fora, close to the state border with Rio de Janeiro.
Although the CLC is still based on the W203 platform, it was facelifted with an updated front and tail inspired by the W204 series C-Class. The refresh reworked the rear and front along with some other refinements and new details (Mercedes claimed around 1,100 components), including a steering system borrowed from the SLK-Class and a revised suspension. Out of the sheetmetal of the CLC-Class, only the doors, roof and quarter panels were carried over from the C-Class Sportcoupé. The interior is still largely similar to the first-generation SportCoupé, although it did receive the Steering wheel from face lifted W219 and an updated optional navigation system.
Some auto journalists noted that the improvements were limited in order to differentiate the CLC-Class and protect the status of the more lucrative marques in the lineup; one reviewer stated the "CLC does just about enough to introduce new customers to the world of Mercedes" and that it had the "feel of an authentic Mercedes-Benz, which is more than I’d say about the A-Class and B-Class front-wheel-drive hatchbacks". Due to the age of the W203 platform which "exudes a level of float and wallow" not found in the W204 C-Class, the CLC received mixed reviews against sportier rivals such as the BMW 1 Series coupé (a successful replacement of the 3-Series hatchback).
In 2009 the CLC 160 BlueEFFICIENCY was added to the range, and the CLC 230 was rechristened as the CLC 250.
Daimler AG decided that the CLC would not continue production. Instead, the W204 C-Class received a traditionally designed coupé added to the lineup for the 2012 model year, coinciding with the facelifted W204 sedan/saloon in the fourth quarter of 2011. The 2012 C-Class Coupe is positioned directly against the BMW 3 Series Coupé.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mercedes-Benz W203.|
- Patent USD433653 – Exterior surface configuration of a motor vehicle – Google Patents
- W203 C-Class Design Studies
- Patent USD433653, op.cit
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- auto motor und sport, #3/2008, p. 27
- C-Class continues to be the bestseller of the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio
- Last 203 Series C-Class Sedan Rolls off Assembly Line in Sindelfingen
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