Used 2002 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

Edmunds expert review

With the additions of an affordable sport hatchback (though they call it a sport coupe), a sport wagon and a high-performance sedan, Mercedes-Benz has a seat for everyone in the compact luxury/sport arena.

What's new for 2002

Two new models debut: the C230 Kompressor Sport Coupe and the C320 wagon.

Vehicle overview

For 2002, Mercedes covers all the bases by bringing out hatchback, wagon and high-powered sport sedan versions of the C-Class.

Starting at the low end, the $25,000 C230 Kompressor Sport Coupe (actually a hatchback) puts the three-pointed star in reach of more folks who want Mercedes safety, engineering and, yes, status.

Using the same supercharged ("kompressor" in German) 192-horsepower 2.3-liter inline four found in the SLK 230 roadster coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox, the baby Benz can sprint to 60 mph in just 7.2 seconds.

Just because this is the entry-level C doesn't mean that the standard features list is skimpy. Quite the opposite as dual-zone climate control, aluminum cabin accents, 16-inch alloy wheels, six-speaker sound system with cassette deck (though it lacks a CD player, a changer is optional), a tilt and telescopic steering wheel with stereo and trip computer controls and eight-way (manual) adjusting driver seat are all standard. Leather seating and a large "Panorama" sunroof are among the available options.

And, as expected from a Benz, the new hatch sports a boatload of high-tech safety features such as four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and Brake Assist, electronic stability control and front, side and head-protection airbags.

Moving on to the sedans, the C240 and C320 are unchanged, having just been introduced last year. The C240 is motivated by a 2.6-liter V6 with 168 horsepower (why it's not called the C260 escapes us) and the C320 sports a 3.2-liter V6 with 215 horses. And, in an effort to further compete with its venerable statesmen (i.e. BMW), a six-speed manual gearbox can be had in the C240. Those who prefer automatic gear changes will like the responsive tranny in the C320, a five-speeder with Mercedes' TouchShift feature that allows manual gearchanging should the mood strike. It's standard on the 320 and optional on the 240. With a five-link rear suspension and a rack-and-pinion steering system, the C-Class demonstrates ability at canyon carving that the pre-2001 car lacked.

Such luxury features as dual climate control, steering wheel-mounted controls and wood trim come standard on the C240. Step up to the C320 and receive a Bose stereo system, full power memory front seats and power tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Options include a stand-alone navigation system and Mercedes' Cockpit Management and Data System (COMAND) -- the center console interface that controls the navigation system, the audio system and the cell phone -- xenon headlamps, heated seats, a six-disc CD changer and a sport package that provides higher spring rates, tighter shock valving, a thicker stabilizer bar and larger tires.

Wundertuner AMG applies their magic to the C-class sedan and the result is the pavement-scorching C32 AMG. No less than 349 horsepower pour out of the C32's supercharged V6, hooked up to an enhanced five-speed automatic dubbed "SpeedShift" that together vault the car to 60 mph in around 5 seconds flat. Beefy vented disc brakes, an AMG-massaged suspension and 17-inch alloys wearing fat performance rubber complete the hardware package. A front air dam and side skirts, unique wheels and a two-tone interior separate the C32 from the garden-variety C-class sedans.

Also added to the C-class family for 2002 is the C320 Sport Wagon. Essentially the same as a C320 sedan under the skin, it shares that model's features and provides up to 63.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity. And the wagon hauls more than spoils from a day of antiquing; its zero-to-60 mph time of 7.0 seconds (according to Mercedes) is just a tick slower than the C320 sedan.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.