With the exception of the high-performance C36/C43 AMG, the W202 C-class tends to get short shrift around here. That’s probably because for many, the W202 marks the point at which Mercedes began to lose its way. Not only did the taut, angular design language of yesteryear give way to the rounder, less attractive lines of the “jelly bean” era, Mercedes products from the mid 1990s onwards just never seemed as reliable or as well-built as those that came before. I think there’s something to this, but the upshot is that a garden variety C280 can be had for not much money. And while it isn’t quite as tank-like as the venerable W201 it replaced, it can still make for a satisfying commuter. If you squint hard enough, you can even see the design parallels between the two.
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