W202 or W203? Which one to get? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-07-2011, 02:21 PM Thread Starter
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W202 or W203? Which one to get?

Of course I could have asked this question in the model specific forums, but might have gotten a bit biased responses, so I'll post here.

I'm considering getting my 17-year old daughter either a 99-00 W202 or 02-02 W203. I taught her to drive mostly in a 97 C230 and after getting her license, she was driving a 97 E420 until the tranny went south. Now she is temporarily driving a 93 BMW Touring until I get her either a W202 or W203.

So, even though she handled the E420 very nicely, since it is for a teenager, horsepower/performance etc. figures are not important. I'm looking more for reliability stuff. Safety is a given, of course, but she says she will not want to drive a W126 and, at least for now, I don't think I will get her a W210.

Hence, the choices I've come up with are W202 and W203. No other models. These are the ones I'm planning to choose from.

In the budget I'm working (5-8K), the W203 would probably have to be a bit higher mileage (maybe 120-130ish), but I could easily get a sub-100K mile W202 for that price.

As I have had the 97 C230 already, I know a bit about W202s, but I'm not too familiar with the W203. What would be the pros and cons when comparing these two?

Thanks in advance for any and all comments and suggestions.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-07-2011, 07:01 PM
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Hi, I was in the same spot a few years ago when I was originally considering buying a brand new W203. While I was at the dealership I spent some time with a very helpful salesman who was honest enough to tell me how many problems their service department was having with the W203. I told him I am buying a MB for reliability not flash and he suggested I get a Certified Pre-owned W202 as they have a stellar reputation overall (as you already know from personal experience). That dealer didn't even have a CPO W202 so I know he wasn't trying to sell me on something. It was the most honest and forthright conversation I have ever had with a dealer rep.

I eventually found the right car, like new with low miles and CPO w/ warranty. When I had it in for service a couple of times I was given a W203 as a loaner, and I also rented one on a trip. Point being, after spending time in the W202 and then in the W203 my observations were as follows:
W203 excelled in performance, stereo quality, and of course a few more conveniences. It did feel a bit more flimsy in terms of trim and interior components and I was very distracted by the button layout and function which took my eyes off the road way more than in my own vehicle.
W202 excelled in feeling more solid and sturdy, simplicity of use, and I prefer the higher driving position of the W202 which of course can be adjusted lower if needed.

Otherwise, the W202 may be a bit easier to repair on your own and you can still check the oil level yourself on the car, but the W203 may have some more improved safety features such as more airbags, etc. Hope this helps you out.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-07-2011, 07:35 PM
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hi, i own and drive both, the 202 has a very special place in my heart i love it dearly and i have owned 2, both where 4 pots but driving my 203 it is instantly noticeable that the 203 drives better, is more comfortable and has a lot more toys and safety measurements..

it comes down to this... if you daughter or anyone else has a accident in the car you want it to be as safe as possible, im taking nothing away from the 202 regardless of what you might read it crashes well but the 203 crashes better (if there is such a thing).. but back to quality i find my 210 to be thes best car for long distances but the 203 is a very close 2nd it also has a snug cabin that i find very inviting and very comfy a lot more than the 202 is...

id say for safety alone go the 203 route try to steer clear of the I4 engines and go for the Smaller V6 cars a 240? perhaps, the 240s are usually better equipped and drive a lot lot smoother than the I4... just my 2 cents


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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2011, 07:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments, guys. Pretty much in line with what I was also thinking.

However..., now that I gave a choice of possible vehicles, she seems to like the E46 BMW more than the MB choices. We'll see...

If anybody still has any other comments, please let me know.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2011, 09:01 AM
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The W202 you're considering is a "facelift" model.

The W203 is pre-facelift for that model, and early W203s were troublesome as regards dash electronics, etc.

General rule of thumb for any Mercedes is get the facelift model.

A facelift W203 should be fine.

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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2011, 09:19 AM
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Some w202's had electrical problems, but are easier for the DIY'er than the w203.

If you are going to be doing the work yourself and the car is in good condition, the w202 is probably the better choice. However, the w203 has improved safety features and would probably be the better car for the protective dad haha

Shouldn't rule w201's out, they are great cars!
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2011, 09:26 AM
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I own both vehicles. If going for a W202 which has proved to be very reliable, stick with a 99 or 2000 model. Anything before 97 will be in constant need of attention as they are filled with flaws.

The W203 is questionable. As noted above, a 2005+ W203 would be the best.

98 S420
99 C43 ////AMG
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2011, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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Facelift W203 is unfortunately out of my budget right now, so I guess it will come down to choosing between the W202 and E46.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2011, 02:19 PM
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What year e46 are you looking at?
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-08-2011, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1984babybenz View Post
What year e46 are you looking at?
01-03

There's no need to go into the E46 vs. W202 debate, though.
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