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2003 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

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2003 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

Entry-level luxury sedan line offers array of styles, engines.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 2003 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a collection of entry-level luxury hatchbacks, sedans, and wagons. While not as prestigious as top-level Mercedes’ lineups, the C-Class’ elegant design, strong engines, and available all-wheel drive may appeal to buyers looking for an upscale daily commuter that also happens to be fun to drive.

The Range

Body Styles: coupe, sedan, wagon
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder, 2.6-liter V-6, 3.2-liter V-6
Transmissions: five-speed shiftable automatic, six-speed manual
Models: Mercedes-Benz C230, Mercedes-Benz C320, Mercedes-Benz C240, Mercedes-Benz C320, Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG

What's New

Most notably, 2003 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedans and wagons (with the exception of the C32 AMG) are now offered with the optional 4Matic AWD system. A supercharged four-cylinder engine, once only available on the C230 coupe, now comes with the C230 sedan. All C320 models can now be had with a six-speed manual transmission.


With a sleek and sporty design characterized by a sloping hood, sharp creases, and the classic Mercedes grill and emblem, 2003 Mercedes-Benz C-Class models don’t look like typical entry-level cars. The C-Class consists of two-door hatchback coupes, four-door sedans, and four-door wagons.

Standard features on the C230 coupe (as well as the C240 sedan and wagon) include 16-inch alloy wheels, all-season tires, intermittent windshield wipers, a rear defogger, power heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, and cargo tie-downs. The sedan version of the C230 gets 17-inch wheels and performance tires. Upgrading to either the coupe or sedan C320 adds a V-6 engine and a variety of interior details. C-Class wagons gain an elongated and tapered roofline with roof racks and an intermittent rear window wiper. The top-level C32 AMG sedan comes with the same features as other sedans, but adds a power sunroof and Z-rated tires.

Options on all 2003 Mercedes-Benz C-Class models include variable intermittent wipers, rain-sensing wipers, a headlight-cleaning system, and a rear spoiler.


2003 Mercedes Benz C-Class models feature a cleanly laid-out cabin decked out in leather, alloy, and (on upper trims) wood trim, though some may find the interior’s design on the plain side for a luxury vehicle.

C230 and C320 coupes come standard with cloth upholstery, sport front seats, a manual split-folding rear seat back, power locks, one-touch power windows, retained accessory power, a universal remote transmitter, a leather tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, dual-zone climate control, interior air filtration, front and rear floormats, illuminating vanity mirrors, a trip computer, an external temperature display, and a six-speaker stereo system. The C230 sedan adds four-way power-adjustable front seats, a folding center armrest with storage, and a seven-speaker audio system.

C240 sedans and wagons gain cloth and leather upholstery, four-way power-adjustable bucket front seats, and wood interior trim. C320 models add 10-way adjustable front seats, memory settings for three drivers, a reverse-tilt passenger-side mirror, and a 10-speaker Bose sound system. The C32 AMG tacks on leather sport seats with multiple driver’s-side heat settings.

Interior options available on most C-Class models include a CD player, cell phone, navigation system, emergency communications system, auto-tilt steering wheel, leather and wood steering wheel, wood trim, and leather upholstery. Base models can be upgraded with power-adjustable seat settings.

Performance & Handling

The 2003 Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers several engine options. C230 coupes and sedans come with a supercharged, 1.8-liter, inline-four producing 189 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque; C240 models get a 2.6-liter V-6 making 168 horses and 177 lb-ft; C320 versions get a 215-hp, 3.2-liter V-6; and the high-powered C32 AMG comes with a supercharged version of the 3.2-liter V-6 capable of 349 hp and 332 lb-ft. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on all but the C240 and AMG models, which gets a five-speed shiftable automatic.

While not technically sports cars, C-Class models boast precise steering, a firm grip, and capable acceleration, even in AWD versions. Coupes features slightly sharper handling than sedans. Road noise is minimal, except for some engine roar from the AMG.


Standard safety equipment on 2003 Mercedes-Benz C-Class models includes front and rear head airbags, dual front and rear side-mounted airbags, antilock brakes, emergency braking assist, electronic brake force distribution, stability control, traction control, daytime running lights, and dusk-sensing headlights.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mercedes-Benz C230: 18/28 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C240: 17/23 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C320: 15/23 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG: 15 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Entry-level pricing
  • Variety of body styles
  • Powerful V-6s
  • Long list of luxuries

You Won't Like

  • Stark interior
  • Cramped rear seat

Sum Up

Entry-level luxury sedan line offers array of styles, engines.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • BMW 3-Series
  • Audi A4
  • Lexus IS
  • Infiniti G37

See the New 2015 C-Class.

Front & Driver Side View

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