I review my friend’s car because I drive and ride the car quite often, and hence I know the car in detail from A to Z. My friend has no time to write an Owner Review as he always busy working on his Mercedes and hunting down classic or rare Mercedes for investment. Thankfully he has a golden heart, allowing me to review and criticise his car.
Onto the main topic, the C320 Avantgarde is very rare in my home country, Indonesia, and turns out it's quite rare here Down Under. This is why the C320 has officially become a collectable item. On the outside, the car looks similar to its less powerful siblings like the C180, C200, or C240. I reckon some people may assume that the car is only a rebadged “ordinary” C-Class like the models mentioned before, albeit with an aftermarket Avantgarde accessories - given that this modification is often found on late Mercedes models.
The C320 was the top model of non-AMG C-Class for some years before the arrival of the more muscular C350.
A book shall not be judged by its cover, and under the bonnet there is a punchy 3.2-litre 6-cylinder engine with V configuration that develops 160kW with 310Nm that goes 0-100km/h in roughly 6.8 seconds. The engine is matched to five-speed Tiptronic gearbox (dubbed 5 G-Tronic) that was one of the most advanced transmissions back in 2001. That performance really is more than enough for cruising around the city on daily basis.
I once abruptly punched the throttle when cruising around on a motorway, and the engine responded quickly, pulling the car to high speed effortlessly like an accelerating aircraft on take off. I also love the sense of being pushed from the back when the car accelerates - the joy of having the power sent to rear wheels. Handling is quite sharp, thanks to W203 compact dimensions, rigid suspension and light weight. Hence, I believe that these are the recipes for making a car fun to drive and agile.
As a top of the line model, the car is fitted with various sophisticated safety and other assisting features such as an antilock braking system, electronic stability programme, and eight airbags.
Inside the cabin, the driver and passengers are spoiled by numerous features such as cruise control, sunroof, fully electric driver and front passenger seats, electric steering wheel adjustment, six-disc changer and multi information display. All these standard features were ahead of their time and remain relevant even now, despite the car having been around for almost two decades. The boot is spacious too; it can accommodate a golf bag or a medium-sized suitcase.
Despite being rich in features, the car still has some disadvantages. The rear seat’s legroom is very tight and the backrest is way too upright, making the car feel smaller than its actual size. The ride quality is harsh on bumpy roads, which is the consequence of having a firm suspension for better handling. The headlights remain conventional like pre-2000 Benzes. They are yet fitted with projectors that provide better visibility at night or during foggy weather. The side mirrors are not foldable; hence one needs to be more careful when passing by another car on narrow streets.
I admit that the C320 really is a decent car. The car is fun to drive, fit for daily use and short-hauls. It also good to look at too. It bears some resemblances to its larger sibling, the W220 S-Class, especially in the rear-end. The C320 disadvantages are, nevertheless, acceptable considering the C-Class once became Mercedes entry level sedan in the early 2000s. All in all, the C320 is a performance sedan that suits everyone, considering the AMG C-Class might be too aggressive for some.