211 estates?

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Active Member
Aug 29, 2003
A180cdi Avant Garde
After various things going wrong this year, I am now in a position to change cars. After deciding on an A-class, I have changed my mind and decided I want a large diesel estate. My budget is around £14k, plus whatever I get for my current e-class in part-ex (2-3 k probably).

I have seen a couple of 211 series for £14k, an E270cdi elegance with 60k on the clock, and an E320cdi avant garde with 52 k on the clock. Both are 2004, on 04 plates. Both are within budget, and would probably do what I require from them. Being 2004, I assume both are galvanised and therefore not so rust-prone. However, I have read reviews (e.g. Honest Johns) saying avoid anything prior to 2006 face-lift, as they were plagued with electrical problems.
Has anyone got any comments, positive or negative? My intention would be to keep this car for at least 2 years, although I am probably not going to be doing the 25k+ annual mileage that I have done in my current e-class.
I had an 04 pre-facelift saloon for 4 years and had not electrical issues at all.
none on my 55 plate (not amg :() saloon. imho the electrics are flawless
Thanks for those votes of confidencee. I have looked at one this afternoon. It is a 320cdi avant garde + parking sensors, with 53k on the clock. 2004, but on a 53 plate. 2 previous owners, main dealer service history, but due for a "C service" now. It is on the forecourt at a Renault dealer, who took it in part-ex, so they are not offering to get it serviced. Outside looks great, in dark grey, and it drives very nicely. But interior lets it down a bit: mostly cloth, with half-leather seats, in dull beige colour, and looks a bit grubby.

It is up for £13,995, and they offered me £3k part-ex for mine, which is at the top of the range I was expecting. Does this sound like a good buy?
Also, what is a "c service"?

You are hardly going to get a valid statistical result asking a few people on a forum. Those are the sort of stats you find in the Daily Mail :D

It is certainly a common perception that Mercedes did a lot of work to address electrical issues when they brought out the face-lift model. If you want to get a realistic idea of a cars reliability you might be better off asking those who work repairing them (still not brilliant statistically).

The other thing to bare in mind is that, because they are second hand, the cars you are interested in might well have had their issues sorted out by the time you buy.
The main issues revolved around SBC witing harnesses, various engine sensors and the SAM units with respect to battery charging.
Most cars should be well sorted by now due to recalls and service measures.
It does not have Command. The only extras are parking sensors. It has electric memory seats: not sure if they were standard or not. I am not in a hurry, and have plenty of spare time over the next few weeks to look at others. It seems good value for money, compared to others advertised of a similar age and mileage, but the interior does put me off.
I am not an expert but would say its a bit on the step side for that sort of age and spec. A "c" service will be £500+ at an MB garage after all the extras. What warranty are the Renault garage giving ?
It's all very well for Honest John's to suggest going for a facelift model, but that obviously means finding a whole load more money (most of which will then be lost via depreciation).

No problems on mine of any note, and since the cars carry a 3 year manufacturer's warranty, most issues will generally have been sorted.

The half (synthetic) leather seats would indicate a low level of of spec, so it's worth investigating what there is out there and making your own list of must haves, since the car is only really a good price if it has most or all of the options that you might personally be interested in out of the very long list of what is available.
Outside looks great, in dark grey, and it drives very nicely. But interior lets it down a bit: mostly cloth, with half-leather seats, in dull beige colour, and looks a bit grubby.

Don't have any car that's grubby inside. There's plenty around that aren't. It indicates that whoever had it before did not have much respect for it - and if the inside has not been looked after there's not much chance that it has been driven with much care.

First impressions stay with you and you won't feel comfortable with this one.
Mine is a '55 211 estate. Two small electrical faults since I bought it 12 months and 21,000 miles ago - n/s heated mirror stopped working and the multistalk control for the wipers occasionally froze (easily remedied by truning off and on).

I'd hunt around for a higher spec though - should be able to get leather and COMAND (most did), or else look for a seriously cheap price!
SBC issues were mainly all recall items so they should all have been sorted.

Early electrical issues were a problem and these were mainly regarding numerous options that were proving unreliable. The worse issue and a major pain in the butt was volt seepage. :mad: :mad: All these issues will have been sorted when the car had a main dealer service.

What no one is saying here is that Mercedes-Benz had a huge quality control purge and when an early 211 E-class entered the main dealer complex for a service, the car would have a very detailed quality control survey. Yes individual cars will still have electrical issues and that is a fact of life. Just look at all the electrical gizzmo's our cars have and the very short downtime for servicing. The vehicle is amazingly reliable.

A basic Avantgarde\Elegance built before August 2004 will have far more basic features than a post August vehicle. Folks talk about the 124 being the last Mercedes built before the accountants controlled the purse strings:p Well I have news for them... the early 211's were built with some very nice features which were subsequently removed to save money.

My only advice is to buy a well maintained, well looked after, fully main dealer serviced vehicle and one that was built from January 2004 on-wards and use August as a cut off for the small penny pinching features.

If you have any questions about any of the options then please feel free to ask.

The Avantgarde came as standard with half leather (not synthetic)

Deffo seems a high price for a low spec. I'd move on, especially if the interior is causing concerns.

I'd look for leather, COMAND and bi-xenons.
Well I have news for them... the early 211's were built with some very nice features which were subsequently removed to save money.


Hi John,

I would be interested to know what the features were....

Many thanks,

That is really useful to know what a "c" service is. The posts here are confirming my feeling that a grubby-looking interior is a sign to walk away. I have come to expect leather on this type of car. The Renault garage were offering a standard Renault warranty, which probably excludes anything that is likely to go wrong on an E class. I suspect they will phone me back about this one, so will see how much further they will drop the price.

Interestingly, the majority of the cars that are coming up on Autotrader do seem to be quite low spec. Very few with COMAND or parking sensors.

I have found a 2004 one at a local MB specialist, called Talis of Bath, (even though they are in Bristol). This one does have leather, parking sensors and COMAND. But it is higher mileage (69k), and asking price is £1500 more. Still, it is only 5 miles away, so will go look at it. As I have the day off, will also look at a couple of BMWs as well.
Hi John,

I would be interested to know what the features were....

Many thanks,

I'm afraid you will ahve to do a search. I did list them several times but I have now misplaced the list.

It ranges from the likes of SBC Stop, charcoal filter switches, puddle lights etc etc. I think between us all we reached just over 20 visible deletions.

remember also that bi-xenons are a standard fitting on thne Avantgarde. Nano paint technology was introduced in 2004.

Unfortunately, the E class with COMAND and leather sold this morning, even though I thought it was priced rather high.

I did take a BMW 525d estate for a test drive, but did not like it particularly. It felt very solid, and more modern than an E-class, but not as comfortable or refined. This particular one did not have leather or wood. I then sat in a 530d, with leather and wood, which was much nicer, but would not start, even with jump leads. At this point, I decided to carry on looking for another Merc.

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