Affordable German elegance
Becker 6X CD shuttle didn't work when we received the car. Shuttle was sent for repairs. We went on holiday to the coast and Mercedes shipped the shuttle to the nearest Mercedes dealership. Still didn't work. In the end a technician at our local Mercedes dealership connected a loose wire and it was fine.
Airconditioning pump packed up just after we received the car. Mercedes quote for repair was R10,000 ($1,500). Bought the parts from Mercedes and had them installed by a private mechanic for R4,000 ($615).
The automatic gearshift became erratic from 170,000km. Had the gearbox oil and filters changed. Improved somewhat.
Air mass sensor gave up the ghost at about 180,000km. Car put out only 90kw instead of 125kw. Because of loss of input from air mass sensor to central computer, gearshift became even more erratic! New air mass sensor cost R3,500 ($538).
Rear shocks totally worn out at 180,000km. No generic replacements available in SA, so you have to fit the original Sachs shocks at R3,500 per pair.
Drove through a gigantic pothole at about 130,000km and totalled the left front suspension. R13,000 ($2,000) to replace. Insurance coughed up.
Right after the pothole incident the rear suspension developed an irritating creaking noise audible inside the cabin. It would get better when it's raining. Too bad it's quite dry in SA! Nobody could fix this (Mercedes dealer/other mechanics) and we sold the car with the creak.
Right before we sold it at 194,000km the BAS/ASR warning light would come on when you used the brakes in city driving. Would also trigger an irritating message on the ASSYST display telling you that there is a problem with the BAS/ASR system.
None of the above problems were particularly serious and the car never let us down, eg stranded next to the road, failing to start, etc.
Our car was silver with light grey leather interior with burr walnut wooden finishes.
The 1999 model had a slight change in equipment, adding Mercedes' funky plastic key system, curtain airbags and a new audio system.
We used this car as our family vehicle and it is one of the most comfortable long distance cruisers there is. Where we live, it's about 1,000km (625miles) to our holiday destination. You can get in and arrive there well rested.
I personally think the 2.4 V6 with 125kW is slightly underpowered to get the E-class going. One thing must be said that this engine is silky smooth and revs right up to the red line in every gear. This helps to make overtaking less stressful.
The interior must have been hewn from granite! I have yet to see a more solid, fuss free interior in a car. Noting broke off, fell off or rattled in the ± 80,000km that we spent with the car.
Only the driver's side seat showed some wear after 194,000km (122000miles). The rest of the leather interior looked brand new.
Service costs was exceptionally cheap. We paid R700 ($107) and R1,400 ($215) for the small and large services at the Mercedes dealer.
In SA the E240 came with 205/65/15inch wheels and tyres. I think that the wheels were too thin for a car this big. The car didn't feel quite as stable as I wanted at high speeds 100mph+.
The rear passenger space in the E-class is huge, but at the expense of boot space which is quite frankly a joke! Nowhere near enough for a family's holiday luggage. We always had to tow a trailer.
Fuel economy was excellent giving 9km/L in town and 12km/L on long trips. 21mpg and 28mpg.
In the pothole incident mentioned above we were 5 persons in the car, towing a trailer at about 150km/h (95mph) when we hit the pothole the size of a small country. The car stayed stable and unlocked all four doors immediately as it is programmed to do in case of an accident!!
The depreciation was quite a shocker! We paid R190,000 for it in November '03 and sold it for R92,000 in Feb '06. R100,000 loss in 2.5years! New E240 now sells for R400,000, you can buy an '03 for R220,000!! So get a good 2nd hand deal and save thousands!
We basically sold the E-class because of its high mileage and the niggling little problems that started to show up. We thoroughly enjoyed the 3 years with it and would buy another in a heartbeat.
If you are looking for a reliable and economical family saloon with a dash of elegance, go get yourself an E-class. You won't be sorry.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 25th July, 2006