The W206, one hit wonder or the best of both worlds?

Words and Images by
Karl-Heinz Eisenberg

I had the privilege of having a look at the new C-Class a year before it made production, and already then I knew Mercedes-Benz was onto something. Every part of the prototypes told me that the engineers at Sindelfingen were out for mass produced perfection. After all, the 206 has something to prove to the world. Let me explain:

It all started with the W201 (190E), this almost instantly became a cult icon, known as the baby Benz. It was followed by the 202, which was plagued with bio-degradable wiring harnesses and early electronic gremlins, but isn’t that the case with most early 90’s euro cars? Then came the 203, which especially in facelift form (or “MoPf” for Modell-Pflege) was well respected, however due to Daimler Chrysler parts bin sharing the interior quality was that of an American.

On August 7th 2007 the 204 was launched, I remember being a young laaitie at the time, and this turned out to be probably the best C-Class of all time. Even the face-lifted version was just a near-perfect car. Sadly, the 205 came along, which simply didn’t drive like a C-Class should: like a baby S-Class. It’s an all-round good car, but it aged as well as that one hot girl you knew in high school that just went south after college.

Learn more about the C-Class Lineage here:

This is why Mercedes-Benz had something to prove, a true successor to the 204, and what a brilliant job they have done. The interior is so simple, yet so fascinatingly sophisticated. Every button has been properly thought through by hundreds of engineers, not that there are many buttons though. Almost every part of the 206 can be controlled with MBUX or with the center touch TV, yes I said TV, it’s huge, responsive and has very smooth graphics.

The suspension is solid, tight as a Beverly Hills’ soccer mom’s forehead, yet it absorbs bumps effortlessly. The steering is agile, with only 360 degrees from center to full lock, however has barely any feedback whatsoever. Apparently consumers like this, otherwise Mercedes-Benz wouldn’t have made it that way.

Our test car didn’t have Airmatic, I’m not sure if it is possible to make a car on steel suspension drive better than the 206. This is partially made possible by the lack of AMG-Line, I am sure with lower profile wheels the ride won’t be as smooth as this.

There isn’t much to say about the exterior because there isn’t much going on…. But that’s a good thing. Cars that are over styled and designed with current trends (yes, I am talking about you, Audi) tend not to age well. The 206 however, just like the 204 (MoPf) I personally think will age well.

The C200 that we drove has sufficient power for a 1.5L, with a very linear power curve thanks to the mild hybrid system called EQ Boost. This is coupled to the 9G-Tronic gearbox, with what feels like improved ratios, as the 205 (MoPf) had a very short first gear.

No review is complete without same critique, so here it is:

  • It’s not available as a V8
  • The sliding door over the cupholder requires a lot of force to open
  • The steering wheel controls take some getting used to, nothing wrong with them
  • The center console is piano black, might want to protect it

So, am I just hyped because I am a C-Class nerd, or is the 206 really that good?

Well, yes, the 206 is really a great car considering it’s mass produced, any better and it would have to be hand made.

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