Phil's Mercedes-Benz C220 CDi Sport Coupe

My first, and definitely last, Mercedes. I’m not part of any customer feedback program so I this is my thoughts after 4 years and 4 months of ownership:-

History . . : Bought at 30 months old on 21/04/2006, 2 previous owners
Purchased: From Hilton car supermarket, Hilton, Derbyshire (non-franchise trader) Click here to visit their site
Servicing : All servicing prior to 80,000 service (done at 79,000 miles) was been done by Inchcape Group dealer franchise.
. . . . . . . . . . . . Since then I have recieved better quality servicing from:-
. . . . . . . . . . . . M A Grealey in Spondon, Spondon MoT Centre.
. . . . . . . . . . . . CarTech of Borrowash (no longer trading).
. . . . . . . . . . . . My son Andy who is a BMW trained Senior Technician with Stratstone BMW in Derby.
. . . . . . . . . . . . All at a lower cost than Inchcape making ownership (just about) affordable.
Mileage on purchase: 37,270
Mileage at trade-in. . : 103,894
Fuel consumption. . : 40.532 mpg (average since date of purchase) at a fuel cost of 11.22 pence per mile.
Servicing costs . . . . : £2,489.30 with services roughly 10,000 miles apart.

Faults to date:-
  • SRS failure – sorted by dealer with “goodwill” warranty contribution by Mercedes.
  • Front track rod end disintegrated at 80,360 miles (took out the nearside front tyre as well).
  • Front discs totally wiped out at 86,700 miles.
  • Driver's door central locking motor, solenoid failure, replaced at 86,700 miles (failed 4,000 miles earlier).
  • Front o/s anti-roll bar bushes completely shot to pieces at 87,020 miles, replaced both sides and front tyres.
  • A number of stone chips eventually resulted in a replacement windscreen.
  • Another stone thrown up off the road took out the o/s/f driving lamp (spot light).
  • Upper n/s/f track control arm worn out and replaced at 100,000 mile service.
  • Both front suspension springs snapped (identical breakages) and replaced at 100,000 mile service.
  • Both rear suspension springs snapped (identical breakages) at 102,300 miles.
Changes from standard specification:-
  • Changed tyres from Continental to Dunlop Sport 3000A for a much quieter ride with less road noise, very similar grip and better wet weather performance.

Front end, quarter view - - I think the front end is so pretty.

Rear quarter view - much better than a VW Golf (tyres in this photo are the original Continental Sport2).

Items missing, expected as standard fit:-
  • Rear screen wash/wipe facility – both a convenience and a safety issue.
  • More storage space for odds and ends (too much glovebox space taken up by user manual and CD storeage unit).
  • Ride and comfort.
  • Cruise control.
  • Electrical seat adjustment.
  • Electrical steering column adjustment (allowed on the move).
  • Seat heating & seat memory.
  • Large capacity washer bottle.
  • On-board computer functions.
  • Large fuel tank and good range (560 miles or more depending on use).
  • Inaccuracy of computer fuel consumption calculations - at least 4mpg optimistic.
  • Obtrusive nature of the ABS - and the way it cuts all engine power so you can't resume driving to get out of a situation.
  • Obtrusive nature of the traction control (and the bright “!” light on the dash).
  • One stalk does all -- indicator, screen wash, wipers (and the indicator 3 flash facility).
  • The number and amount of warning bings, boings and bleeps.
  • The affects of corrosion that means that after removing wheel bolts the wheels are virtually impossible to remove from the car.
  • Lack of MP3 player facility on stereo and folding door mirrors.
  • High cost of servicing and lack of documentation on what is and is not included in menu price.
  • Being quoted £1,257 plus fitting, plus VAT by Inchcape to replace o/s/f headlight when the self levelling mechanism failed - it took Andy 40 seconds to effect a cure (which I have since used again recently). It seems that grit getting into the beam height adjuster causes the self-leveling mechanism to stick.
  • Incessant rattles and occassional squeaks from the interior - drives me mad on long journeys.
Not sure why:-
  • Access to the back is so poor given the large doors.
  • The “cigar lighter” is hidden under a flap in the centre console and not under the “ashtray” flap.
  • Automatic transmission fluid needed changing at 54,000 miles when many manufacturers don’t specify a fluid change in the life of the vehicle.
Mercedes have a reputation for "bullet proof build quality" which (if this is anything to go by) is at best poor, and compared to the Honda Accord, really quite shit (and that's being generous/polite). Genuine parts and servicing is horrendously expensive - I suppose that's to finance their F1 activities, and their technicians don't appear too well educated on the product but are obviously well trained in prizing open customers' wallets. One of the biggest problems that UK Mercedes owners have is that the Mercedes concession is in the hands of Inchcape, who also have a stranglehold on around 80% of UK Mercedes dealerships. This Monopoly may make life easier for Mercedes but it certainly works against the consumers' interests. Fortunately most parts are available from GSF at much more reasonable prices and they give the customer the option of "genuine" parts supplied direct from Mercereds suppliers or pattern parts (I use the former) and happy to do so.

And it's not just me as my next door neighbour Richard has a C220 CDi saloon (newer than mine) which he bought from a franchised dealer (not the local one) and which has always had Mercerdes servicing - and his problems with the self leveling rear suspension have not ended yet after 2 years of trying by Inchcape Mercedes (Derby). It's also worth noting that his car carries an official Mercedes stamp that says "Made in South Africa" while mine says "Made in Germany" and his words are "When you buy Mercedes you expect it to have been built in Germany". My view is, it doesn't really matter as Mercedes obviously can't build cars to last, or, they can but just don't want to.

So the big question is - Would I have another Mercedes? The answer isn't so simple... For covering long distances very quickly in comfort it is hard to beat, and Suzie would have one in the blink of an eye. BUT - as the person paying the bills and trying to live with it day in, day out - sorry but it has to be a big NO! I always wanted a Mercedes from a young and tender age. Now? Been there, done that, don't want the T shirt.

Nearly a year after trading the Merc in for the Passat I got a letter from Mottingham Trading Standards asking if there was any way I could validate the mileage on the car, what I knew of it's history pre-purchase, and what documents I had retained on sale. It looks like somebody has (since I disposed of it) adjusted the mileage. I wish I knew more.

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