UK Car Road Test

Mercedes C230K 2002



UK Car Used Car Road Test.

Mercedes C230 Kompressor Coupe 2002.

This Mercedes tested is the higher powered version of the stylish coupe derived from Mercedes C class saloon. It competes in the market mainly with BMW's 3 series coupe. The engines are available in diesel and petrol with manual 6 speed transmissions being the most common. This coupe was introduced into the UK in 2001making it easily available  to purchase as a second hand car. 

Merc's C Class has been around since 1984, replacing the now very dated 190 model which brought Mercedes Benz into the affordable sector in the marketplace. The C class range was facelifted in 2001 with many cosmetic changes. Some Mercedes models are now as popular as many other makers' fleet cars.


The car we tested was in this stunning metallic blue with a grey trimmed interior. The paint finishing on many modern Mercedes is very poor, being prone to stone chips and abrasions and this car has many miles on its speedo and is slightly peppered on the front edges but acceptably so. 

The C-Class Coupe looks quite large at first sight, however once close up its mass is easier to perceive. The height is only 00000 cms with a length of only 11111 cms. The inside is very small with very little rear leg room and not much more in the front, with a huge gearbox tunnel running front to rear. The driver's cockpit area is intended more for the Asian market than the home German one. Anyone of considerable body mass could not drive this car simply because they would not fit behind the steering wheel comfortably.


It is however very stylish with a modern appearance and much different to the saloon C-Class versions. It has twin front lamps, rear spoiler, whopping 17" alloys, chrome grille and colour coded trims and bumpers which all enhance this cars outward appearance. This one also had the full glass panoramic electric sunroof which is an optional extra and added to its good looks.

The interior is undoubtedly Mercedes and easily distinguished from any Japanese designed car. It is very robust as well as being very robust looking. Everything fits into its place with intent and precision, nothing is surplus and nothing looks added as an afterthought and everything is harmonious and ergonomic. Sit inside this car and even the seat is solid, close the doors and you get a thud not a clunk, pull the door handles and they don't creak, you have to grip the steering wheel not hold it; everything is typically German engineered, strong and long lasting, the only light action in this car are the stereo buttons. This car had covered in excess of 90,000 miles and did not have any wear or internal defect.

The interior is grey which is patterned with a lighter grey, the door trims and dash is also plastic grey, it looks good and is enhanced even further when the sunroof cover is retracted, allowing considerably more light inside the car.




Sadly, Mercedes Benz tend to list most features as extra cost options rather than standard features, thus making the cars very basic in comparison to other makes with lower prices. You can add 000s to the cost when new if you request just some of the equipment fitted to this car, which I personally found to be about the minimum expectation for a car of its class and price tag.

Air con is fitted as standard with climate control which works well if the sunroof is closed. The cruise control is very easy to use and set and all the electric switches for the windows, sunroof and mirrors are simple and accessible without any fuss.

www.ukcar.comComfort Features 
Adjustable Steering Column from
Adjustable Steering Column
Centre Arm Rest Front from
Centre Arm Rest Front
Centre Arm Rest Rear from
Centre Arm Rest Rear
Cloth Trim from
Cloth Trim
Cup holders from
Cup holders
Drivers seat Lumbar Support from
Drivers seat Lumbar Support
Electric Height Adjusting Drivers Seat from
Electric Height Adjusting Drivers Seat
Front Door Bins from
Front Door Bins
Head Rests (front & rear) from
Head Rests (front & rear)
Height Adjustable Seat Belts from
Height Adjustable Seat Belts
Pollen Filter from
Pollen Filter
Split rear seats from
Split rear seats
Time Clock from
Time Clock
www.ukcar.comGeneral Features 
12 V Accessory Power Point from
12 V Accessory Power Point
Colour Coded Bumpers from
Colour Coded Bumpers
Colour Coded Mirrors from
Colour Coded Mirrors
Digital Odometer from
Digital Odometer
Exterior Side Mouldings from
Exterior Side Mouldings
Heated Rear Window from
Heated Rear Window
On Board Computer from
On Board Computer
Tinted Windows from
Tinted Windows
www.ukcar.comLuxury Features 
Air Conditioning from
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter from
Cigarette Lighter
Climate Control from
Climate Control
Cruise Control from
Cruise Control
Electric Mirrors from
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows front from
Electric Windows front
Heated Mirrors from
Heated Mirrors
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror from
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Radio CD Player from
Radio CD Player
Trip Counter from
Trip Counter


For many years now, Mercedes have opted to super-charge their engines rather than turbo-charging them. Reliability has been very good, unlike early efforts to supercharge cars. Super charger failure was very common and very costly.

This car has an in-line 16V twin Cam four cylinder supercharged engine, providing  power to the rear wheels through a manual 6 speed transmission. Having driven other 230 K Mercedes I was already somewhat familiar with this one. Or so I thought. That was until I realised that this 230 K is not a 2300cc like the others I had driven, it's a 1800cc just like the other Mercedes C180 K coupes. The difference is the BHP series to 197 in this 230 series.

I wonder if this is to confuse us more than BMW do with badges that do not reflect the engine size with any logic?


Turn the ignition key on this car and the engine starts with considerable induction and exhaust noise. Press the accelerator and the revs climb very quickly and with equal noise. Press the very light clutch in with very little effort and you are then shocked with the gear selection which is as robust as the car and not at all light and easy. 

Once moving, the car feels very well balanced and very able to drive at low speeds as well as having its super-charger pump flat out. The engine rewards you with lots of horses from such a light and compact unit and the gearbox is strong enough to drive a light goods vehicle, maybe a little too strong though, with typically clunky gear changes reminding me of earlier Mercedes models I have driven from as long ago as the seventies.  On and around smaller roads the coupe will behave very well, accelerating from all speeds with ease and assurance, providing the gear selection is correct. With only 1800cc there is not an awful lot of umph or torque range. Get the gearing right and let the engine breathe and you are rewarded with the BHPs which are considerably good for such a small engine. The rear wheels put the power onto the road very well and they are controlled and assisted with electronic traction, preventing any wheel spinning on wet or low friction surfaces. This I do find fussy as the electronics tend to cut all the power to the wheels at crucial times and this can be dangerous in certain circumstances. On open roads and driven aggressively this car becomes what it was designed for which is a well balanced, reasonably quick and very credible, good handling sports coupe.

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
9000 16 Band (f)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
4 Cylinder 16 Valve DOHC Supercharged 197 1796 Yes
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
4 Double 4 Super Charger
Cooling F.Susp R.Susp
Water Independant NA
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
149mph 8seconds 132
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
18.5mpg 37.2mpg 27.7mpg Unleaded
Kerb Weight Tow Weight Length Width Height
1505kg 1500kg 434cm 173cm 141cm
Boot Seats/up Boot Seats/Down Seats
310 Litres 1100 Litres 4


The suspension is independent and very complex with lightweight, multi linked wishbone arms and drop links. The alloy wheels are fitted with plenty of high performance rubber to help stabilise, direct, stop and push this car along. The steering is precise and very well balanced with superior driver feedback. It provides a well balanced variable assistance according to the cars speed.

This Merc is very nimble and agile with a turning lock not far behind a black cab, making it a rewarding car to drive. 


Steer/Susp/Tech Features 
Automatic Stability Control from
Automatic Stability Control
Catalytic Converter from
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brakes Front & Rear from
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
External Temperature Gauge Fitted from
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted from
Front Fog lamps fitted
Halogen Head Lights from
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim from
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension from
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe from
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering from
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter from
Rev Counter
Service Level Indicator from
Service Level Indicator
Traction Control from
Traction Control


Like all modern Mercedes this car is fitted with cutting edge technology to keep you safe when driving it and the car safe from theft when you are not.

It is almost impossible to steal one unless you have the coded ignition key. If you are unlucky enough to have an impact the intelligent air bag SRS system will work within micro seconds to help prevent personal injury. The stunning alloy wheels are locked onto the hub from the factory with a locking nut and the stereo is not much use in another car. All of this helps convince potential thieves it is not worth attempting to steal. All of this ultimately has a knock-on effect in making the car affordable to insure.

www.ukcar.comSafety/Security Features 
Alarm from
Antilock Braking System from
Antilock Braking System
Engine Immobiliser from
Engine Immobiliser
Front Side Air Bags from
Front Side Air Bags
Front Side Curtain Air Bags from
Front Side Curtain Air Bags
Front Twin Airbags from
Front Twin Airbags
High level brake Light from
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap from
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts from
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Rear Seat Belts Fitted from
Rear Seat Belts Fitted
Remote Central Locking from
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection from
Side Impact Protection
Visible Identification Number from
Visible Identification Number

In general this car looks well, drives well and is well equipped but I still would not own one.

For the amount that the Mercedes costs I would probably buy a car with more power and more equipment for less cost.


I accept the car has impressed me but I cannot accept the price tag, service costs and poor paint quality when I compare it to other makers. The engine is extremely good at what it does but then I don't want an engine designed for a motorcycle which has to be revved for power - I prefer more of a combination of torque and bhps rather than just bhps.

Merc's advertising says "Oh Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?" but if I were to pray for a car it would not be this Mercedes Benz.


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UK Car Road Test Mercedes C230K 2002

UK Car Road Test Keywords: SportsC230K