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Reader test: Mercedes-Benz 230E

2009-10-07 08:09

Martin Coetzee

I don’t know if people know the best kept secret today. Well, what can you buy these days for R29 000? If you do an online search for cars under R30k, you won't find a lot of "gems". But if you move all the crud to the side, you will find some quality wheels.

Now, what a lot of people don’t know is that the Mercedes-Benz W124 Series was over engineered to last thousands of trouble-free miles. In January 2009, I decided to sell my 1988 Citi Golf for R19k, and wanted to add another R10k on top of that to buy something nicer.

I use this set of wheels to get me to work and back everyday, and I was looking for something with aircon, but under the R30k mark. I got my hands on a beautiful 1986 Mercedes-Benz 230E, and it had aircon!

But wait, there are more features: dual climate control, cruise control, automatic gearbox, central locking, leather seats, electric mirrors. I was stunned by how many features this old car had for the kind of money you pay!

Now, somewhere in the last 24 years, one of the previous owners decided to respray the car in a light blue colour. I decided to look past this. It was more important for me to have a car that’s mechanically sound, than the right colour.

Comfort and space

I was amazed to see how good the interior still is. Not a scuff or scratch mark on the seats, steering wheel is huge, but very light when turning the wheel. Automatic gearbox is not as smooth as my new Audi A4 (B8 2l Turbo – 155kw), but what do you expect from 24-year old gearbox technology?

When it comes to the ride quality, nobody believes me when I say that it drives better than most of the newer cars on the road - until they take it for a spin. You hardly feel bumps on the road, and it's perfect for city traffic with the automatic gearbox.

The chairs are very comfortable, it even has a center armrest. Another plus is the amount of space in the car. The boot is huge, and there is lots of space for the back and front passengers. And when you hit those highways, the cruise control makes the trip even more relaxing.
Until now, the Mercedes has not left me at the side of the road. If you are looking for a dependable, well rounded car, don’t give the Mercedes E-Class a miss. I always tell my friends, with the prices of today's luxury car brands, you can buy more than 10 of these old Mercs for the price of a new one.
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