Mercedes-Benz’s flagship sedan celebrates three decades of life this year, since 1993 when it first appeared as the successor to the 190E.
With a nickname “Kleine Mercedes” (small Mercedes) and better price than any other until then the car range of the Stuttgart brand, the C-Class has contributed more expand the company to a larger audience.
THE The first C-Class (W202) of 1993 adopted the design philosophy of the larger S-Class of the time, and created one a modern and sophisticated rival to the BMW 3 Series E36. At its core was printing C180, which produced 120 hpand on top of that 134 hp C200.
And the first C-Class Mercedes tried to offer European buyers more space and action. It didn’t look too different from the 190E in its silhouette, but it did completely renovated zoning of the engine, transmission and both axles.
More than that, the fuel tank was moved under the rear seat for the first time (from the trunk, which was in 190E) to open space for the longitudinal movement of the rear seat back. It was, at the same time, the first plastic gas tanklose weight.
Then head of the company’s vehicle development, professor Hermann Gaushe said so “we are responding to the fact that the population of central Europe is increasing year by year.” So Mercedes focused its attention on buyers who needed one larger family car, while BMW focuses on more sporty things for young and ambitious entrepreneurs.
However, The C-Class had a premium suspension – double wishbones at the front, multi-link at the rear – and to this day it remains impressive in terms of road behavior, and with it comfort for everyday life. And it was too the first car from the Stuttgart company to get an AMG versionthe last time it was still an independent conversion house and not Mercedes-Benz.
The first C36 AMG appeared at the end of 1993 and a 3.6-liter V6 engine, which generated respect for the number of times 276 horsepower. It was a rear wheel drive, with low suspension, AMG Monoblock wheels and a large aerodynamic package.
The following years would also bring even the most powerful versions of the C-Class from AMG. The C43 got a 4.3 liter V8 engine and power of 302 hpwhen unstable and rare C55 which produced 342 hp and only 59 copies (built in 1999-2000) is one of the most unique C-Class W202 in history.
The sports car expansion went along with it its parallel racing program in the German Touring Car Championship (DTM). Driven by the legendary Klaus Ludwig, the AMG Mercedes C-Class DTM won the 1994 title and improvements increased power to 434 hpand more victories followed from ’95 at international level as well.
Three years after the introduction of the C-Class sedan W202, in 1996, its car version followed, which exceeded 240 thousand sales in Europe until 2001. At that time, in the late 1990s, the time had come to first generation facelift of the German compact family.
In terms of equipment, the data of the 90s was very different from today: h the base Classic version of the C-Class it had plastic rims, cloth seats, manual windows, and often no radio.
On the other hand, The Esprit versions had clean and vibrant colors to appeal to small buyers, with suspended ceilings. For those who wanted one The most modern Mercedes, there was an Elegance version, enhanced with chrome details on the body and leather interior with wood paneling on the dashboard.
Finally, there was Sports versionwhich had lower and firmer suspension, alloy wheels and wider tires. “With the Esprit and Sport we were able to attract buyers who found the W202’s design to be conservative” said Professor Peter Pfeiffer.
Mercedes C-Class introduced, together with AMG, a new range of German company model names. Until 1993, the engine capacity number preceded the model name and body type. In addition to the 190E, there was also the 600SEL – which would later be called the S600L.
The letter E until 1993 referred to the fuel injection system, but since all Mercedes now had injectors, it was not necessary to continue using them. The only exception is of course the E-Class, where the letter E stands for body size.
A letter-number swap took place in 1993 with the C-Class because there can’t be a letter C after the number – because that’s how it was in earlier versions of Mercedes and coupes. The first C-Class W202 continued its commercial activities until 2000and arrived sold a total of 1,626,383 copies before being replaced by the new W203 with a 21st century twist.