The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a compact executive car produced by the Mercedes-Benz division of Daimler AG. First introduced in 1993 as a replacement for the 190 range, the C-Class was nicknamed the "Baby Benz" as it was the smallest model in the marque's lineup until the 1997 arrival of the A-Class. The C-Class is built at Mercedes-Benz factories in Sindelfingen and Bremen, Germany, in Santiago Tianguistenco, Mexico by Mercedes-Benz-Xicotencatl as well as in Mercedes's factories in Brazil and DaimlerChrysler's South African factory in East London. The very first W202 C-Class sedan was produced on June 1, 1993, and the second generation W203 C-Class rolled off the assembly line on July 18, 2000. The third generation W204 C-Class was launched in 2007. The C-Class is the entry-level offering in Mercedes-Benz's United States lineup. The C-Class platform has been used for several coupes, including the CLC-Class (and its predecessor, the C-Class Sportcoupe) and the E-class Coupe (and its predecessor, the CLK-Class).
At the launch all W202 variants were equipped with a 5-speed manual gearbox. The 722.4 4-speed automatic transmission, also called 4G-TRONIC, was available as extra cost (standard on the C 36 AMG). In 1996 this old transmission - which was on sale since 1981 - was replaced by a 5-speed automatic gearbox (aka 722.5 or 5G-TRONIC), which received the manual shifting in 1999 (722.6). In 2000 the T-Modell, the only still on sale, was equipped with the G56 6-speed manual transmission. At the launch the C-Class had a standard driver airbag, ABS and integrated side-impact protection; the front passenger airbag became standard from 1995 onwards, and from the same period Traction control (ETS in the 4-cylinder models, combined with limited slip differential (ASD) or ASR in the 6 cylinders models) was available as extra cost. In 1997 ASR became standard in the C 280s equipped with the automatic transmission and in the C 36 AMG, as ETS in the 4-cylinder models, except for the C 180 and the C 220 Diesel. With the 1997 restyling ASR became standard in all the models, except in the C 180 and C 220 Diesel. This last model continued to offer ETS available as extra cost. Moreover front side airbags and Brake assist (BAS) came in the list of standard safety features. The two basic models finally joined ASR in 1998, and, in 1999, the W202 was the first mid-size sedan to offer ESP as standard in all the range.
On its debut, the C-Class was the only Mercedes model with a complete lineup of multi-valve engines. The new family of four cylinder petrol units, called M111, debuted in the C 180 (1.8 L, 122 PS (90 kW; 120 hp)), C 200 (2.0 L, 136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp) and C 220 (2.2 L, 150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp), the only four cylinder of the range sold in the U.S.). In 1996 the C 220 was replaced by the C 230, enlarged to 2.3 L displacement but with the same output, although with torque increased to 220 N·m (162 lb·ft). The C 280 was the high end model of the class, with a four-valve-per-cylinder straight-6 engine, capable of reaching 193 PS (142 kW; 190 hp). Four-cylinder diesel models were equipped with the same OM601 engine of the 190, in the 2.0 L and 2.2 L versions. Many of these diesel variants were sold as taxis, due to their low fuel consumption and strong reliability. There were also more powerful OM605 five cylinder engines which were available in naturally aspired (C 250 D) and turbocharged (C 250 TD) forms. The turbodiesel was introduced in 1995 and is one of the novelties in the engine range available from this year. The most important was a supercharged version of the M111 straight four, the C 230 Kompressor, using a Roots-type supercharger to generate 193 PS (142 kW; 190 hp) at 5300 rpm: Mercedes-Benz reused supercharger technology after 50 years. Due to the tax law in Italy and Portugal, models in those countries featured a supercharged version of the smaller 2.0 L (C 200 Kompressor), which had a similar output of the C 230 Kompressor. With the restyling in 1997, a lot of things changed under the hood of the Baby Benz. The most important innovation was the OM611, equipped with a common rail direct injection system (co-developed with Bosch). The new model was named C 220 CDI, and had an improvement in output of 30 PS (22 kW; 30 hp) compared with the C 220 Diesel, better fuel average and lower emissions. Another revolution occurred to the six cylinder engines, as the legendary straight six were replaced by an all new family of V6, the M112. The new engines featured SOHC heads instead of the previous DOHC, three valves per cylinder instead of four, and twin sparkplugs. The four-cylinder C 230 was replaced by the C 240 (2.4 L) and the I6 C 280 by the V6 C 280. These changes theoretically reduced emissions, and improved fuel consumption, without sacrificing power (the C 280 in (7,112 mm) fact had a slight 4 PS (3 kW; 4 hp) increase with the change). In the last four years of production, the W202 received a few changes in the choices of engine. In 1998, a less powerful version of the 2.2 L turbodiesel was added, called C 200 CDI, which replaced the C 220 Diesel. In 2000, the C 200 Kompressor T's output was cut to 163 PS (120 kW; 161 hp), the C 240 T displacement was enlarged from 2.4 L to 2.6 L, but output remained at 170 PS (130 kW; 170 hp) and the C 180 got a 2.0 L engine.