The 2004 Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars offer a great variety of body styles, trims, and performance choices. This entry-level class shows off the German maker’s talents for making comfortable, fun-to-drive, and feature-filled cars that can still be practical. While rivals from Audi and BMW offer more athleticism or cabin quality, the combination of upsides found in the C-Class can be hard to beat.
Body Styles: hatchback, wagon, sedan
Engines: 1.8-liter four-cylinder, 3.2-liter V-6, 2.6-liter V-6
Transmissions: six-speed-manual, five-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz C230 hatchback, Mercedes-Benz C320 hatchback, Mercedes-Benz C230 sedan, Mercedes-Benz C240 sedan, Mercedes-Benz C240 4Matic sedan, Mercedes-Benz C320 sedan, Mercedes-Benz C320 Sport sedan, Mercedes-Benz C320 4Matic sedan, Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG sedan, wagons- Mercedes-Benz C240 sedan, Mercedes-Benz C240 4Matic sedan, Mercedes-Benz C320 sedan, Mercedes-Benz C320 4Matic sedan
For 2004, the C-Class sport coupes get new standard gear: a three-spoke sport steering wheel, 17-inch wheels and tires, leather-wrapped gearshift, aluminum pedals, and large chrome exhaust outlet. Sport sedans get similar upgrades as standard fare, as well as a sport shift manual transmission, new front brakes featuring four-piston calipers and drilled rotors, lowered sport suspension, a free-flow exhaust, and new five-spoke alloy wheels.
The 2004 Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars come in three body styles: wagon, hatchback, and sedan. Those body styles are broken down into different trims: C230, C240, C320, C32 AMG, and some trims are available with the 4Matic designation that means all-wheel drive. Stepping up in trims means more powerful engines and tuning that increases towards performance. Depending on the trim, wheels are either 16- or 17-inch alloys. Some other performance touches and cues are used on higher trims.
The C-Class cars have some inferior cabin materials, but basically a nice design that is roomy and ergonomic. Base trims offer many great standard features that are added to on higher trims.
Performance & Handling
The C240 uses a 168-horsepower, 2.6-liter, V-6 engine that produces 177 lb-ft of torque and is mated with a six-speed-manual gearbox or an optional five-speed driver-adaptive automatic transmission. A SpeedShift feature can be used to determine the best possible gear. The 215 horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 that makes 221 lb-ft of torque in the C320 only uses the automatic transmission. A supercharged 3.2-liter V-6 in the C32 AMG cranks out 349 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. It, too, only uses the automatic. A supercharged, 189 horsepower, four-cylinder engine making 192 lb-ft of torque powers the C230 Kompressor model. All models are rear drive except the 4Matic trims. Those models are all-wheel drive. The performance of C-Class cars can vary wildly. The A C240 sedan runs the zero-to-60-mph sprint in 9.2 seconds, a rather slow time for this segment. The AMG tuned model does the same run in 5.1 seconds, an impressive time for this segment. Suffice it to say performance really depends on the price and model chosen.
Handling is a different story. The base models start off with great handling that only improves by stepping up to higher trims. The grip is assured and steering is precise. The agility inspires confidence, and the C-Class cars are downright fun to drive, even the wagons. The ride is comfortable on all models, although predictably a little less posh on the better performing trims.
Standard safety equipment for all C-Class models include anti-lock brakes, Mercedes-Benz’s Electronic Stability Program, traction control, electronic brake force distribution, emergency braking assist, dual-stage front airbags, and door-mounted side-impact airbags for the front and rear seats, curtain-type airbags that deploy from above the side windows. Also included is Mercedes-Benz’s BabySmart technology with sensors that disable the airbags if they detect a child-safety seat. In NHTSA tests, the C-Class earned four out of five stars or five out of five stars on all available tests. In IIHS tests, the C-Class received the highest rating of ""good"" for frontal-offset crashes, but the second-lowest rating of ""marginal"" for rear-impact and head restraint. All things considered, the C-Class gets good marks for safety, especially in this price range.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz C230 hatchback: 20/24 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C320 hatchback: 17/24 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C230 sedan: 20/27 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C240 sedan: 17/22 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C240 4Matic sedan: 17/23 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C320 Sport sedan: 18/24 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C320 4Matic sedan: 17/24 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C320 sedan: 18/24 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C32 AMG sedan: 14/19 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C240: 17/23 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C320 wagon: 18/24 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz C320 4Matic wagon: 17/24 mpg city/highway
- Safety and luxury features
- Body style options
- V-6 engine power
You Won't Like
- Small backseat
- CD player is an option
Not a class leader, but offers a lot of variety.
If You Like This Vehicle
- Volkswagen R32
- Cadillac CTS
- Lexus IS300
- Mitsubishi Diamante
- Infiniti I35