1 year review!

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R2D2

MB Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 23, 2004
Messages
6,957
Car
C350
Well unbelievably I have had my C350 V6 Elegance for a year and I thought it was time for a warts and all review.

It is really strange but when I searched on here for what I’d said before I found that in January 2005 in response to the introduction of the M272 engine to the C Class I’d said “a C350 Sport Pack plus in black please!”. Isn’t it funny how things work out!

As many of you know I have had three previous Mercedes all known as R2 (due to my number plate). Since I felt I had achieved everything I could with R2 No3 i.e. every mod or option I needed on my C180k, I had been looking for the “new R2” for ages.

I decided to not limit my search to only Mercedes because I’d driven 250,000 miles in C Classes and wondered what else was out there. I considered a Kenwood A4 but it was so bland, I considered several Alfas but they were fun but coarse and the build quality still isn’t in Mercedes league and so after months of test drives I ended up positively choosing to remain with Mercedes rather than just buying another one.

I decided that I wanted something practical, suitable for work, FUN and FAST and therefore I started a nationwide hunt for a C55 AMG. I drove good ones, bad ones and saw all sorts of worn ones but the only superb one, sold before I got to it. Then one day I was at an independent MB dealer who let me take out various W204s back to back. I discovered that W204 Sports are much firmer than my old Avantgarde even though mine had AMG springs! I drive a fair few long journeys and I couldn’t cope with the Sport suspension every day. He then sent me out in a C350 (Petrol) Elegance which was wonderful. It had proper suspension and ride becoming a luxury car and was a very nice place to be. This set me thinking about what I wanted from the next R2.

When looking for C55 AMGs I discovered that there are only 131 left in the UK, hence my difficulty in finding a good one. I then started researching W204 C350 Elegance's and discovered that there are only 103 in the UK! The one I’d test driven had already been sold

Performance wise a C350 is only 0.5 sec slower to 60 than a C55 and frankly I couldn’t feel the difference. Whilst the 3.5 litre doesn’t sound like a V8 it does sound lovely and above 3000 revs makes a great sound.

To cut to the chase, I searched everywhere for a low mileage W204 C350 Elegance and I bought a lovely example with only 17,000 miles on the clock. I took it straight away to Comand uk where Mark, Rob and Richard were ready to do all my mods for me! They did a full and proper factory comand install with the factory vents and fans and different air vent controls and everything is perfect. Mark had helped me with advice when buying my car and advised me what was possible from a retro fit point of view. Rob and Richard did the install and a lovely and perfect job it is as well. Thank you guys!

The new R2 is my first V6, my first "limited to 155mph" and first "6. sec" car

Confession 1.
I was so thrilled with the car that I bought it believing that it was Obsideon Black metallic. It is not and in fact is non-metallic Black paint.

This has meant that I have had a lot of paintwork issues to deal with and hence why I am not only waxing a lot but using sealants in order to protect the paint from marks.

The end result is an amazingly shiny car but not without much effort.

Confession 2.

The Cars MOT had advisories for "bonded suspension units deteriorated but functioning". This was explained away by the broker who sourced the car from a MB dealer up north as, nothing just a bit of ware on some bushes. In reality the bonded suspension units were completely spent and needed replacing. This was not a straight forward job as it required a specialist tool to be sent from the factory and actually doing it took half a day. The good news was that MB/broker picked up the bill.

While it was in the main dealer I had the entire car checked and all software/maps updated and all exposed suspension parts either greased or waxoiled. I tend to keep my cars a long while. The wheels have been off at the hubs lubricated to stop the wheels sticking on and the brakes and underside has all been checked. The underside is now as good as the rest of the car.

The car itself has been amazing, it is a real Q car. When the boy racers tail gate, one just flies off leaving them behind. The fuel consumption has ranged between 36.8mpg on a gentle cruise and 19mpg on a "less gentle cruise". I love the new Comand and Linguatronic which is SO easy to use. I love the ride (I have yet to find a corner where I wish I had the sports suspension), I love the seats and leather and the "luxury" steering wheel feels nice even after my AMG one in my last car. I love that it does 60 in 6 seconds.

I have had an occasional slight dash rattle but nothing that is lasting or problematic and otherwise it is perfect.

Mods to date;
Black wheel centres to match the car
Comand and Linguatronic installed and PCMIA 16GB of music added.
Facelift LED mirrors,
LED rear light clusters.
Nine twin spoke titanium silver wheels.
Sprintbooster 2


“25/07/2007 I said “I drove the new W204 today. This particular one is £35,000 due to memory seats, navigation, AMG everything, leather etc etc.
Impressions,
Exterior- Looks OK, has presence but not beauty, prefer my (w203)wheels to the double six spoke version.

Interior- Enjoyed the sat nav popping up automatically, and the memory steering wheel and seat movement, still think the steering wheel is horrid and the plastic on the dash is cheap looking. Felt like a Honda.

Driving- This was a sport but ride s harder than my AMG suspension but smooth with no roll at normal speeds, brakes are hyper sensitive and I'm not sure I like them, steering is so light you could steer using only "the force"!

Engine- C220CDI felt lively and quite quick but is noisy and a bit intrusive.

Overall- A nice car, especially if you haven’t had a Mercedes before, worth £35k? in my opinion no way!

01/03/2009 I said “I have driven the Audi A4, the Alfa 159 and the W204. The W204 felt the most solid and had the best ride. So out of my possible rivals the W204 sport is the only contender. The W204 is better built than the W203 and has a better ride and good levels of kit and at some point it will doubtless be my next car BUT it is not £14,000 better than my current W203 and therefore R2 stays for the time being. Thank you all for your input in this process! “

30/08/2012 I said I decided to not limit my search to only Mercedes because I’d driven 250,000 miles in C Classes and wondered what else was out there. I considered a Kenwood A4 but it was so bland, I considered several Alfas but they were fun but coarse and the build quality still isn’t in Mercedes league and so after months of test drives I ended up positively choosing to remain with Mercedes rather than just buying another one.

……Then one day I was at an independent MB dealer who let me take out various W204s back to back. I discovered that W204 Sports are much firmer than my old Avantgarde even though mine had AMG springs! I drive a fair few long journeys and I couldn’t cope with the Sport suspension every day. He then sent me out in a C350 (Petrol) Elegance which was wonderful. It had proper suspension and ride becoming a luxury car and was a very nice place to be. “

Review.
It’s interesting that some of my thoughts about the W204 have remained constant over the years.

Exterior

Excellent panel gaps, excellent paint quality, excellent practical design. Not a beautiful car but it has a stance and presence about it that I like.

Interior
Comand/Linguatronic is wonderful and a big step forward from my w203 Comand APS. My car has the luxury leather 12 button steering wheel which I positively like. I’m sure the first one I drove in 2007 had a plastic horrible steering wheel. The seats are well made and comfortable. The dash board in general is well made; however, it does have occasional very minor rattle. The plastic along the door tops is too hard and cheap looking.

Ride

In my Elegance Spec car the ride is awesome a great place to travel long distances in. I found the Sport ride with 18inch wheels just too hard for everyday use, however, it too is capable of a smooth ride on good surfaces.

Handling

All w204 have adaptive shock absorbers as standard and some have the switchable version as an option. My standard car handles very nicely at anything short of reckless speeds. If pushed very hard it will lean and understeer slightly. I’m happy with the very high threshold of understeer and accept it as being necessary if want my ride quality.

Engine

C350 V6 petrol. I love the sound, I love the 0-60 in 6 and the top speed of 155mph. I like the 36mpg on a run I dislike the 14mpg on a thrash or in stationary traffic. I’ve averaged 26.3mpg so far; my C180k averaged 28mpg.

Summary

My w204 is a natural progression from my previous w202s and w203. All of my c classes have been excellent, reliable, and safe cars. The w204 builds on the previous models by being a bit better built, a bit safer, a bit better build quality. Overall I think the w204 is a great car in many ways. I still think some of the cabin plastics are hard but otherwise it’s been a good purchase. As Autocar said several decades ago when the w202 was launched "The C Class is a great car to drive and an even better one to own". I'd still have to agree!
What's the betting that my next car is a w205 even if I try an Alfa and an Audi first?

PS. When I bought my C350 Elegance, it was 1 of 103 in the UK but I noticed that this 1/4 the number dropped to 96. Presumably someone wrote one off or exported one.

Bringing us uptodate


As at today my car has done 17000 in my first year of ownership thereby doubling it’s mileage to 34,000!

It has performed perfectly with no issues apart from the rear rubber bush issue when I first collected it.

My trip computer says I’ve averaged 26.9mpg over the year and my best ever reading was 36.8mpg.

Road tax is £475! Insurance £229!!

I pay £60 per month for a Mercedes Service Plan as the services on this car can be a bit heavy.

The car has proved to be a good buy. Highlights of my year have included the 5 page article about my car in Mercedes Enthusiast, I also particularly enjoyed the 25 miles of cross country driving I did on the way to Goodwood FOS behind a Porsche Boxster S. We had great fun-the Porsche handles the corners and roundabouts better than the C350 but my car reals him in on the straights!!

I’ve just completed a 2000 mile trip up to the north of Scotland and have took the video clip below to capture the noise! Click the image!


Summary.

A good buy? Yes an excellent buy! Would I buy it again? Yes!!

Best bits

The engine is fantastic especially when match to the 7G gearbox.

Worst bits

An occasional rattle in the dash and ……not a lot else!


Conclusion. The best car I've ever owned!

click the image to play

 
Sadly you can no longer buy the saloon or estate equivalent in the UK now in C or E class models only available in Coupe body form if you want a V6 petrol. :( Maybe in the new model? :dk:
 
Sadly you can no longer buy the saloon or estate equivalent in the UK now in C or E class models only available in Coupe body form if you want a V6 petrol. :( Maybe in the new model? :dk:

The annoying thing is the attachment shows the price list at Mercedes Benz Lille.....
Edit: At a price 50k Euros is £42k :(
 
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Great review.

Limited numbers of used C350 Elegances in circulation can only be a good thing for residuals :)
 
A wonderful review Greg. Not that we expect anything less from you. Your video brought a massive smile to my face of course because I only ever get to experience the sound of that beautiful engine from inside the car. As you said, it's a glorious experience from the driver's seat above 3000 rpm. But I have to wonder, or dare I say "hope", that my later M276 version sounds as fantastic as yours to all the poor muppets who get left in my wake :D

Most of what you wrote applies to my car too, especially still loving it. But where my experience differs slightly may be down to it being the facelift model or just a variance in expectations/views.

Your comment about the Sport version providing too harsh a ride interested me. I found the ride comfort on my Sport to be roughly similar to my preceding W208 CLK 230K Elegance. Now whether that's down to better engineered suspension on the 13 years younger car I don't know. But it may be that my particular Sport saloon is possibly unique in having non-sport seats. This is my major confession. I didn't realise, and presumably neither did the salesman, that comfort ventilation wasn't available with the sports seats that are standard on the Sport model. I didn't even realise until I'd posted pics of the car here and one member said they're not sports seats. So perhaps the standard seats are less supportive but more forgiving, thereby smoothing out the ride a little. :dk:

What is impressive is the handling of the car that exceeds the W208 by many a mile. Then press that SPORT button on the dash and it gets a whole lot better :D. The ride gets a lot firmer of course, but that's a joy instead of a discomfort when hurtling along winding roads. The Dynamic Handling Package certainly does its stuff.

As with everything in this life, you have to pay for lots of fun so yes, fuel consumption suffers when using all the 306 horses available under the bonnet. But mixing that with a few cruising miles, the direct injection and Start-Stop has provided me with an overall average that's now nudging 32mpg. And thanks to CO2 levels of just 164 g/km from the M276 engine linked to my 18" wheels, the annual road tax is just £175. :thumb: (I'm also happy with my insurance at £249.)

I too have taken out the Service Plan (4 years), but by doing so within the first 12 months I'm only having to pay £27/month.

My highlight of the 10,300 miles of my ownership from new (March 2012) was undoubtedly leaving a Porsche Boxster S for dead on the way up the Stelvio Pass (48 hairpin bends) last June. We lingered longer than him at the top so came up behind him on the way down the other side. He graciously accepted his place and pulled over for us to pass. :rock:

I haven't done any mods to my C350 Sport. But I did go mad with the specification when I ordered it so I've already spent more than enough silly money for now (OTR £41,500 after getting the dealer to drop £4215)

And as for those rattles that seem to blight so many W204 owners, I've been very lucky so far (where's the fingers crossed smiley?). The only negatives have been a couple of multi-story car park kerbs that have grown a tad when Mrs KE has been driving, and someone so blinded by the shiny black paintwork they were unable to completely avoid the rear wing. However, the wheel damage and wing damage were so slight I've been able to polish them out to almost disappear.

I'm planning on keeping this one for a very long time. :bannana:
 
You may be right about your comfy seats. I drove a sport with 18 in wheels, low profile tyres and Sports seats and it was very firm after the Elegance. Your mpg is fantastic when you consider how quick the cars are. Porsche Boxsters must be attracted to us!! Glad you appreciated the review :)

PS. I'm glad you enjoyed the video :)
 
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Porsche Boxsters must be attracted to us!!
My best friend had to sell his Boxster earlier this year. He admitted to feelings of inadequacy! He was seriously tempted to get a C-Class but in the end opted for a BMW 335i coupe. At least he can keep up with me now.;)
 
My best friend had to sell his Boxster earlier this year. He admitted to feelings of inadequacy! He was seriously tempted to get a C-Class but in the end opted for a BMW 335i coupe. At least he can keep up with me now.;)

LOL. A 335i should be quick enough. I've had two goes with a Boxster, both were S models but not current year. The Goodwood one could out handle me but not get away. The second one had two goes at me! Both times he was strong from rest (while my auto sorted itself out!) and then he got left standing from 50 :)
 
Hmm according to Autocar.
Porsche Boxster S 50-70 takes 14.2 secs
Mercedes 350 50-70 takes 3.3 secs.

The MB can obviously use kickdown, so if the Porsche driver doesn't change down then he's had it :)
 
It sounds great in the first vid :thumb:.
 
Great wright up. One question. £60 a month for the service plan??? Is that a typo?

My C63 is only £40 a month and the ML350 I picked up on sunday is only £29 a month.

Or do you do stupid miles and need more than one service a year?

J.
 
Great wright up. One question. £60 a month for the service plan??? Is that a typo?

My C63 is only £40 a month and the ML350 I picked up on sunday is only £29 a month.

Or do you do stupid miles and need more than one service a year?

J.

Basically I needed 2 in the first year due to my mileage and one was a big service. We worked it out that the cheapest way was to cover the two with the £60 pm for a year and the revert to a cheaper longer term plan such as Knighterrant has on his C350. Lets hope it works out that way!
 
nice review, and nice to see a happy man. I find Command a bit confusing but I grew up in Audis, so I guess it's what you are used to.

I do periodically wonder why I am driving around doing 16-19mpg in a C63 when in most real world conditions any decent engine car is just as brisk. But then I don't drive it for a while and the noise gets you all over again.
 
Great review Greg. I know I drove the 350 that Anna had on loan ( Before she wrote it Off ) a very quick car, mind you it should be with that engine in such a little car,
 

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