The history of the Mercedes C Class sedans is best recognized with the 190 E 2.3-16. This was Mercedes’ earliest program to bring a compact sedan to the market, except for a couple of compact attempts in the 1950s and the 1894 Velo. Up to this point, Mercedes-Benz was known as the producer of large luxury sedans, and there was concern about entering the market where they would compete directly against BMW and others. The 190 was extensively tested to be sure it acted and felt like a larger Mercedes so as not to push dedicated owners away.
The first Mercedes to carry the “C” badge was the 190 successor, known as the 190 but carrying model number W201. The first compact Mercedes in the US was often referred to as the “Baby Benz” and utilized a 2.0 liter inline-four engine developing 90 horsepower. Some believe the market was ready for a compact Benz, but the more likely motivation was the introduction of the Clean Air Act under the Carter Administration.
Next was the 190 D 2.5 Turbo, initially produced for markets in Mexico, but also sold in the US. The inline 2.5 liter turbo diesel developed 122 horsepower and could attain 0-62 mph in a bit over 11 seconds. Mercedes was now committed to market against BMW, so the MB 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution was introduced as a market competitor to the BMW E30 M3. The Mercedes 2.5 liter engine developed up to 235 horsepower on some trims. It even had a front spoiler and rear wing for that sporty look.
Although the 190s described above were C-class designs, the first “official” C-class was the W202 C36 AMG released in 1993. It offered more interior space than the W201s, and was the first vehicle designed under the Mercedes-AMG joint venture signed in 1990. The model designation C36 described its 3.6 liter inline-six engine developing 280 horsepower. It could reach a reported limited speed of 155 mph.
The C36 AMG distinction of being the most powerful C-class was upended by the introduction of the C43 AMG in 1997. This was the first V-8 generation and used an aluminum block and head. It could develop 302 horsepower and 302 lb-ft of torque and offered 0-62 mph times in 6.5 seconds. But Mercedes wasn’t done, and introduced the C55 in 1998 with its 5.4 liter V-8 producing 347 horsepower.
The next generation of C-class, the W203 models, entered the market in 2000 and introduced a wide range of technical innovations such as adaptive airbags, headlight adjusters, multifunction controls on the steering wheel, and fiber optic cables for lighting. It was designed with distinctive double headlights and sport styling design. Mercedes also introduced a smaller C-class Sports Coupe that failed to attract the marketplace. Following in the W203 generation was the C32 AMG with its 354 horsepower V-6, then the C55 AMG with its 367 horsepower supercharged 5.4 liter V-8.
Now we come to the W204 generation, including the powerful C63 AMG Black Series using a 517 horsepower engine taken from a MB supercar SLS. That 6.2 liter V-8 will move the C63 from 0-62 mph in 4.2 seconds using the AMG Speedshift MCT 7-speed gearbox. That pretty much brings us up to date.
If you are interested in a quality pre-owned Mercedes-Benz C-class sedan or other fine Mercedes, come to Car Stop Texas in Arlington and check out our inventory. We also show our inventory on our website so feel free to browse and contact us if you have any questions. Here at Car Stop Texas, our goal is to make your car shopping easy and rewarding, so come on by.