UK Car Road Test

Mercedes C-class 230 Sport Kompressor 2000

 Movie Clips of this Car

Exterior Movie Interior Movie

 


The C Class Sport, the newer hooligans 190E reborn.

Only with real not imaginary ability.

Every time I get the keys to a Merc, the damn thing always turns up in Pimp mobile white, Worse its normally got a pensioner beige  interior. Oh what a joy this one is to behold in its sparkling Metallic Tansanite Blue paint and its space enhancing Grey hide interior.

There is something about Mercedes style, It never seems quite up to date, yet never seems to date. They are perfect cars for the poseur and their private reg plate as few of us could put a year on many a Benz if the plate is hidden.

This model is in my eyes a particularly handsome  rendition of the Mercedes theme with its high cut tail and seeming lack of aerodynamic appendages. From its colour coded rubbing strips, and colour coded underseal  to its smoked rear light cluster it says timeless class, and sophistication. Its styling is just so .... so ...... so Mercedes. It has a slab sided beauty that Lexus may try to copy but only the Mighty Benz ever really manage to pull off. 

The Alloys are the only real hint of anything exciting and having driven a normal rather soggy C-Class they did not carry much weight.

Is any grill really plainer, yet so obviously one and only one Marque as this one is.

The trade mark square front detail may be well past its sell by date but it works oh so well, it says big strong tough, well built and its backed by a time proven record for being just that.

Inside the hewn from granite doors the dash is as flat and square as any Swede you care to name but how its fitted and the detail of the items mounted on it give it a crafted feel that mere trims and finishes can not give. Just look at the centre console, see how individual buttons are wasted into the gap between the heater controls. How the hazard button is road sign hazard shaped, how even the normal regimented line of buttons have finger tip detents to help you locate by touch.

Its called a Sport and that means trees get to make a collective sigh of relief  as what would normally be some highly polished  off cut from the black forest becomes instead an expanse of tough Carbon look trim, that contrasts perfectly with the gray and black shades of the immaculately trimmed interior.

 

Unfortunately for cows our love of leather (and inability to improve upon it) means a raft of smooth thick well fitted hides grace the interior. The light Grey seats have the usual harsh squab to buttock interface, but they seem to become comfortable far faster than many of its counterparts. They also brighten up what may other wise be quite an oppressive yet impressive interior.  

Once seated surveying the acres of Carbon and the multi functioned Snaking Auto-gate you begin to suspect that this Mercedes may just be trying to make an attempt to live up to the Sports tag. 
Grasping the helm seems to confirm this as the wheel is strangely small compared to the usual Ship wheel and cuts off the top of the central speedo.

The clocks are a lesson in style White, yes there are lots of them  about but rarely are they so uncluttered with markings and warning lights and marked in a neat Grey Italicized font. 

Even the big traction control warning lamp is invisible until the wheel spin starts.

 

The C 230 Komp is well equipped and shows none of the Mercedes odd jobs of earlier versions like passenger electric mirror and drivers door manual one. That sort of indecent stinginess has thankfully subsided. This version is not one of those bottom of the range versions anyway so it gets a goodly helping of anything Mercedes think worthy.

Comfort Features
Adjustable Steering Column
Adjustable Steering Column
Centre Arm Rest Front
Centre Arm Rest Front
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Front Door Bins
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear)
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Drivers Seat
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Pollen Filter
Pollen Filter
Sports Front Seats
Sports Front Seats
Time Clock
Time Clock
General Features
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Bumpers
Digital Odometer
Digital Odometer
Electric Aerial
Electric Aerial
Exterior Side Mouldings
Exterior Side Mouldings
Heated Rear Window
Heated Rear Window
Tinted Windows
Tinted Windows
Luxury Features
Air Conditioning
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Cruise Control
Cruise Control
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Electro Chromatic Rear View mirror
Electro Chromatic Rear View mirror
Heated Mirrors
Heated Mirrors
Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Upholstery
Leather Upholstery
Radio Cassette
Radio Cassette
Sunroof (electric)
Sunroof (electric)
Trip Counter
Trip Counter

The cruise control, sunroof and air con are its outstanding features. Of course it has those little Mercedes niceties like  Breakdown kit and First Aid kit.

So good we showed 

 It twice!

Fantastic flexible Auto

 Dual sized cup holders, for go large customers

With this car it is not so much just a case of how many daft gadgets can be stuffed in side, rather the quality of the Items that are fitted. Either way the Mercedes C 230 K is a very comfortable place to be even when the speed is curtailed by the normal traffic jams. Then you can just let the Auto waft you along whilst the Air con keeps you cool and you fiddle with the excellent stereo.

 

Engine

BHP CC Fuel Inj.
16 Valve DOHC Supercharged 194 2295 Yes
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Double 4 Super Charger
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
143mph 8.3seconds 138
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
20.5mpg 38.2mpg 28.8mpg Unleaded

Super Chargers had been and gone from the car tuners repertoire long before most of us even discovered that such a thing a Turbo charger existed. In reality both are ancient technologies, it just that engineers got Supercharging working well and then later abandoned it before anyone really developed Turbo power. 

They do the job, Force more mixture into the engine and hence develop extra power. Turbos are driven by exhaust gas and hence limited by the vagaries of what is already happening. Superchargers are mechanical devices geared off the crank. In short Turbo chargers have lag  whilst the turbo spins, Superchargers are always spinning at at engine speed hence have no lag. Sounds great, well yes but a Turbo has no realistic limits hence 1000+bhp 1500 formula one cars of a few years back. Superchargers have rising mechanical losses cutting top end power to a point of diminishing returns. They can also be less than perfect once gas pressure starts to seep back through stalling the compressor, which is why 40s GP cars like the Alfa Romeo used twin inline superchargers with one compressing  the supply for the other.

But we are not talking about GP levels of power here,  remember  compression ratio is an aid to power, the same mixture compressed more gives more power,  more efficiency, Turbos and Superchargers both effectively raise the compression ratio by the back door. For the road Superchargers give turbo like top end power without the lag and flat mid and or bottom end. 

Hence this 2.3 Litre four cylinder spewing forth a more than  healthy 194+ bhp yet giving stomping mid range torque and massive instant throttle response.

That's the theory anyway. Does it live up to the theory ?  Well Mercedes have a long history with supercharger power with such legends as the 30's SSK using it to good effect. Would Mercedes bring back Supercharging just because everyone else was going through the fad like Volkswagen and Jaguar. Nope if Mercedes fit it its because its going to work and do a good job whilst its at it.

Hence the 230 sport has a superb responsive motor of really quite startling ability. No unseemly lag or sharp cut in just one long flat torque of ever increasing smooth power. 

Is there a down side. Well the Supercharger noise is not to every bodies taste. Its a screaming whine that all but a few pensioners have forgotten existed. Mercedes have done a good job of Damping it down to acceptable levels but its still there at he back of your head. You may like it , you may not. Personally it reminds me of a Junkers JU 88  on a bombing run.  ( Now I really know what that three pointed device on the bonnet is for ) 

Its certainly an evocative noise and if its the small trade off for such a responsive engine I'm happy with it..

Red means Hot Hot Hot!

Super charger not much too look at, 
shame it does not stick through the bonnet
like a funny car dragster.

Of course to make maximum use of the engine you need to access it via an at least passable interpretation of a gear box. At first I was disappointed to find the sport saddled with a slush box and missing a pedal, More the fool me. Mercedes has slotted in a Five speed Tiptronic gear box of such ability that frankly a clutch pedal is far to ancient a technology to be allowed near it.

Partial kick down response is terrific, full kick down response stunning  and without any shunting and hunting at lower throttle openings. Its happy to burble along selecting a high gear by itself with seamless barely noticeable changes. Or you can shift yourself though it seems pointless by a easy left right flick of the wrist which brings immediate gearchange as quick as the LED on the dash can change. Manual gearbox why would you want one.

The combination of supercharged engine response, Five speeds, Torque converter and seemingly telepathic Autobox  give the 230 Kompressor road speed above that of nominally faster cars. Whilst you are choosing gear, waiting for the Turbo to spin or engine to come on the cam the Mercedes has gone. 

Considering the performance the economy  seems reasonable though just  20mpg is a bit of a stinger around town.  Perhaps that is what you should buy a SMART car for.

 

Translation not required

Neat Alloys
Though metal sticking out beyond 
tyre is a pet hate of mine.

With its solid chassis independent suspension and all round disc brakes the basics for a decent riding stopping and handling chassis are in place. Add in some light wheels and a thick band of rubber and it promises good grip. Yes well that would be any C-Class and that adds up to slightly soggy suspension and less than sharp steering.

Thankfully Mercedes have done some major up rating of the chassis components on the 230K. It still rides with aplomb only getting niggled by the worst of surfaces that British roads can throw at it. 

But it rolls and under steers much less than a standard model. The Body is tautly controlled to keep roll in check and the bigger rubber seems to have concentrated itself upon sharpening the front end up. Traction control keep the rear end in check and can get a good working over from the engine and a heavy right foot.

Take offs are great the Sharp Auto with wide ranging torque converter, mixed in with the grunty hard revving  motor, monitored by the Electronic traction control means you can just boot it from a standstill, the revs leap around just short of the red line and the wheels push the car forward with rubber deforming alarcity. The Traction control is not exactly the subtlest device but it does its job, cutting wheel spin and checking tail slide, the dash light flashes furiously and often when your foot is pressed hard down.

That slightly smaller steering wheel gives good solid responses to the driver and its feel suggests its not just a case of knocking an inch or two off its diameter. PAS pump adjustments and rack ratio all seem likely to have happened  given the much improved feel it delivers.

It does handle and steer very well indeed. How well you ask. Well on the road I thought it competitive with a BMW 525 of similar vintage. The BMW has a more delicate feel and probably edges the Merc out at the limit. But frankly the Mercedes was a lot more fun.

Even in slightly greasy conditions the rear wheel drive chassis feels well planted and secure. The Chassis never feel edgy despite the power. And yet it responds really well to steering input,. diving into bend at speeds that would be be both unseemly and a little unwise for the normally graceful C-Class chassis.

The responsive steering is not though at the expense of the famed Benz motor way stability and you can bomb down empty motorways at license losing speed with the 230 holding its line with a calm serenity. Better and safer to kick in the cruise control though and relax back and let the mile drift quickly by.

 

Do Mercedes still refuse to fit deadlocks. I guess so. Having said that at least you get an Alarm as standard which is as it should be. VINS would be nice but maybe Mercedes owners don't go hunting around dodgy scrappies for spares and stick to main dealers. 

Safety/Security Features
Alarm
Alarm
Antilock Braking System
Antilock Braking System
Child Locks
Child Locks
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
Front Side Air Bags
Front Side Air Bags
Front Twin Airbags
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection

Despite the Solidly built motor it manages on two stars in the NCAP tests. But bear in mind that the test was very new at the time and some very minor changes allowed many cars to get one or two more stars with no trouble. Me thinks that sometimes Makers build their cars to pass the current test and little else. We are talking their about a total write off situation here though.

Its similar to the situation with aerodynamics where Mercedes figures rarely get close to the quoted CDs of other low figure cars. But Benz always counter this by saying that the wind rarely blows steadily from a straight ahead position anyway. They have a point. If you should run into an NCAP concrete block at the prescribed test speed you may be a little better off in some other Vehicles, vary from those fixed parameters and the differences may be negligible.    

Just a reminder

 Neat minimal Airbag placement

The C Class is a worthy but rather expensive saloon and in lower guises it is difficult to justify.

But in this guise it is another proposition all together.

It has all the practical sensible solidity of the C-Class but with added Verve.

You get the decent boot space and plenty of interior space for 5 healthy passengers. The Solid reputation and rock solid build quality.

On the inside where many so called Sports models are fitted with garish Halfords retina burning interiors, The 230 has a very classy eye catching  interior which should stay looking good for a long time. Class like this really is timeless.

Three point reticule 
for lining up the targets

Italicized white clocks look top

You also get the oddities like the American style foot operated parking break with dash mounted finger let off switch. It cleans up the centre console a treat and works fine in an Automatic box scenario. Its only a shame the dash mounted ignition has departed. 

Plain but

Ever so stylishly done

This really is one classily appointed 
and capable sports saloon. 
Fairly anonymous bar the Alloys.
It will surprise a lot of people.
With its mixture of comfort and performance.

Subtle side markings

For once this really is a Medium Mercedes saloon that can back up the perceived image of the Badge.

Yes it costs a lot. But you get timeless styling that will look no more dated in 10 years than it does to day. If you like a car that makes a statement, but  you do not feel the need or want to change your car on every change of plate prefix or minor style overhaul then a Mercedes like this could be your avenue to a long and happy relationship.


 

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UK Car Road Test Mercedes C-class 230 Sport Kompressor 2000

UK Car Road Test Keywords: Auto Saloon Sports C-class 230 Sport Kompressor