Mercedes-Benz chassis codes can be confusing to a newcomer. We have chassis codes that change from model to model, cars that move from chassis to chassis, and a general disarray that can make anything starting with a “W” feel interchangeable with your neighbor’s Silver Arrow.
While this guide won’t cover every Mercedes-Benz sold in the United States, it should serve as a good starting point to understanding each of the Mercedes-Benz chassis, their associated nomenclature and all of their intricacies. Read below to get a better understanding of what makes your Mercedes-Benz a bit unique from other makes.
Mercedes-Benz Chassis Prefixes
- W: Used for short wheelbase sedans and SUVs. This is the most common prefix you will find.
- V: Used for long-wheelbase sedans. This is mostly used for S-classes as they were offered in standard and extended wheelbase models.
- R: Used for 2-seater roadsters. This is used for the SL and SLK models.
- C: Used for coupes. These must have a fixed hardtop.
- S: Used for station wagons, usually E-Classes.
- A: Used for cabriolet cars.
- X: Used for SUVs that are designed from an already-existing platform.
C-Class: Mercedes’ First Compact Car
- W201: 1984-1993. The W201-chassis was one of the most structural to the Mercedes brand in the United States, entering with the 190E and 190D twins. These models offered quaint interiors in an elegant exterior package for the time period, and quickly proved their worth through their robust build quality and reliable engine options. On the circuit, the W201-chassis became arguably the most iconic Mercedes motorsport campaign; the W201-chassis 190E Cosworth would cement the brand as a force in DTM racing for decades to come.
- W202: 1994-2000. The W202-chassis was the first to use the C-Class moniker, and rolled much of key attributes of the outgoing W201 into an updated package; clean exterior, comfortable and robust interior, and a strong powerplant good for hundreds of thousands of miles. In a moderate-performance variant the W202 could be had with the venerable M111 supercharged inline-four, and in fully performance-targeted models the chassis could be had with AMG tinkering via the rare C36 and C43 models.
- W/C/S 203: 2001-2007. The W203 C-Class is perhaps the most recognizable of the earlier C-Classes in the US, as the chassis aimed to target as many buyers as possible in an entry-level format to the Mercedes brand. This C could be had in a coupe, sedan or wagon format, and engines ranged from two different supercharged four-cylinders, a few V6 variants, and both a V8 and a supercharged V6 model at the AMG level with the C55 and C32 AMGs.
- W/C 204: 2008-2014. With the W204 chassis came a move into a more modern marketplace. Taking a step towards more modern demands, the dimensions of the W204 C-class grew from its predecessor, providing more cabin space and a more substantial and wide exterior. Engine options were kept fairly limited despite a lengthy production cycle, including two different V6 models in the M272 (in a 3.0L and 3.5L variant) and the M276 towards the end of production, as well as a direct-injected, turbocharged version of the W203s M271 four-cylinder (known as the M271 EVO in the W204). The AMG-tuned C63 was also driven by the venerable M156 V8.
- W/C 205: 2015-2021. The W205 C-Class takes a leap into modern vehicle design, utilizing a fully direct-injected engine list as well as turbocharged models at all trim levels. The W205 moves upmarket slightly, no longer utilizing the C-Class nomenclature to maintain the entry-level bracket for a Mercedes with the introduction of the CLA-chassis.
E-Class: Mercedes’ Sedan
- W/C 114/115: 1968-1976. These models, available in both a sedan (W-prefix) or coupe (C-prefix) variant, were fairly pivotal in creating the image of reliable luxury that the Mercedes brand is synonymous with today. Utilizing bold and straight-line styling, these artistically-crafted luxury tourers coupled elegance with reliability, outliving comparable cars in the US market by decades upon decades. Engines ranged from four cylinder models in diesel and gas variants to a straight-six gas powered cruiser, as well as the cult-classic inline-five OM617 diesel engine models. Considered the golden era of the Mercedes diesel, some of the W114 and W115 vehicles were capable of turning incredible mileage, one 240D model earning a place in the Mercedes Museum collection by turning just under 3 million miles.
- W/S/C 123: 1977-1985. When asked to picture the quintessential “old Benz,” the US market will generally name the W123-chassis and its many variants. These models shared a good deal with the outgoing W114 and W115 in an updated design package, notable by its trademark rounded headlight bulbs now floating in a horizontal housing. Just as with their predecessor, the 123 models provided supple and luxurious interior packages with a relaxed ride and a dependable powerplant; the complacent diesel engines in these models have been frequently repurposed to run on biodiesel fuel through the years due to their versatility. The chassis code can easily be used to identify the body style (“W” noting sedan models, “S” noting wagon variants, and “C” being the two-door coupe offerings). Additionally, the badging on the rear of these vehicles is easily-deciphered; following the numerical badging to note the engine displacement, body style was noted by a “T” to acknowledge wagon variants and “C” for coupe models, followed by either a “D” for diesel, or “E” for “Einspritzung,” or fuel-injection.
- W/S/C/A 124: 1986-1995. The W124-chassis and its associated body style classifications would serve as the gateway to the E-Class designation, taking on the nomenclature in 1993. While the exterior of the W124 appears noticeably newer than the earlier W123, the layers underneath remained fairly consistent with the outgoing E-Class predecessor; buyers could opt for a wagon model with the “S124” chassis designation, “W124” as a sedan, “C124” as a coupe, or “A124” for the US-facing six-cylinder cabriolet models late in production. The W124 boasted one of the more stylish interiors of the time period, and was touted as one of the nicest places to spend time on four wheels; interior colors were period-appropriate, and the seats were noted to be a cut above the competition in the comfort segment. S124 models also used a trick hydropneumatic rear suspension design to level the rake of the vehicle when carrying a heavy load, cutting-edge technology for the time period. Powertrains for the W124 emphasized a golden era for the brand, ranging from the OM603 diesel-six, to the reliable and torquey M103 and M104 inline-sixes (which could even be had with a manual transmission), to the AMG-tuned M119 V8 in the widebody 500E. Some W124s also saw the introduction of the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, the first of its kind from Mercedes.
- W/S 210: 1996-2002. The W210 E-Class is the first to bear the “E” model name for the entirety of its production cycle, and as such is often mistaken as the first generation of the model. While build quality is a bit less robust on these models due to a larger-scale production process (rust is a common ailment of the W210), the mantra remains mostly the same; strong powerplants, a plush ride, and a comfortable and robust interior. The M112 V6 serves well as an entry-level engine option, and the M113 V8 works well in the E430 models as well as in the AMG-tweaked E55. Diesel options for the US market received the OM606, a unit quickly coming into the spotlight for its incredible power figures following some light tinkering and tuning. The W210 E-Class also introduced 4MATIC all-wheel drive on a broad scale, available in both the V8 and V6 model. The “S” prefix again notes wagon models, while the “W” chassis prefix acknowledges the sedan.
- W/S 211: 2003-2009. The W211 E-Class is a staple of recent Mercedes-Benz history, bringing both performance and utility to the customer at a reasonable price point. The W211 could be had in both a sedan and wagon trim, and engines ranged from the OM642 and 648 diesel six-cylinders, to the M112 and M272 V6s, to the M113 and M273 V8s. 4MATIC and rear-driven models were available, and brake-by-wire was used for the first time alongside the R230 model; this provision allowed for the introduction of the "Sensotronic Brake System" as pressure-manipulative braking system used to provide computer-automated stability control at each wheel (though this was shelved in 2006 save for lower-production vehicles like the R230 SL). The E55 AMG produced absurd power for the time period via the supercharged M113K, yet retained reliability through a robust design. Late in production, the M156 of the E63 provided similar power in a 6.2L naturally-aspirated format. The AIRMATIC suspension design was also made largely mainstream on the W211 models.
- W/S 212: 2010-2016. The W212 E-Class brought technology to the moderate-sized placeholder in the Mercedes lineup, offering cutting-edge technology ranging from driver drowsiness detection to lane departure warning. Again we see a plethora of engine options available within the new, angular design of the 212 chassis, the entry level ranging from the M271 EVO, the turbocharged and direct-injected four cylinder also applied to the C204 C250, to the M274, the superseding four-cylinder for the Mercedes range. Beyond the four cylinder, engine options get a bit complicated; the W212 saw a mid-cycle facelift and refresh in 2013 regarded as the most complex that Mercedes has ever taken on by the manufacturer itself. As a result, powerplants beyond the four cylinder saw a ton of variation; 2009 through 2011 CGI cars received a new direct-injected version of M272 V6, adding a bit more power. This same engine could be had with an electric-assist powerplant sandwiched between the engine and transmission on rear-drive models from 2013 onwards. 2009-2010 non-CGI models received a standard port-injected version of the M272. From 2011 through 2014, the switch was made to the direct-injected M276 V6. The M276 was also available in its Biturbo trim in the W212-chassis via the E400 model. Four V8s were available, beginning with the naturally-aspirated M273 V8 in earlier E550s and the M156 in the early E63, to the Biturbo M278 (Late E550) and the AMG-tinkered M157 in the late E63. Summarized, the W212-chassis brought direct-injection and fuel economy to the forefront within its lifespan, and also made the split of both rear-drive and 4MATIC driveline options standard across most engine offerings. Interestingly, despite coupe variants being branded as E-Class models, their chassis notation of “C207” actually links them most closely with the CLK models of yesteryear.
- W213: 2017-Current. As the latest iteration of the mid-range sedan, the W213 E-Class brings a host of cutting-edge technology to the driver’s fingertips. All new is a semi-autonomous driving system capable of navigating bends and follow distances without driver input (though hands must remain on the wheel to keep from triggering an alert). “Active Brake Assist” and “Evasive Steering Assist” aim to keep occupants as safe as possible, and the all-new Car-to-X communication allows vehicles to communicate hazards on the road ahead. The lower-displacement variants received the M274 turbo-four, while mid-range models received the M276 Biturbo V6 that’s been made a staple of the Silver Arrow lineup through the years. A hybrid model with the four-cylinder was available via the E350e, as well as paired with the M256 inline-6 for the E53 AMG 4MATIC+ model. Brute force at the top of the range comes via the E63 AMG designation, and is motivated by the sophisticated sledgehammer that is the 4.0L Biturbo V8 (Also found in our AMG GT4s).
S-Class: Mercedes’ Flagship
- W/V/C/A 108/109: 1965-1973. The W108 and W109-chassis are most easily considered as the second half of a Y-shaped split; both these chassis and the W114/W115 mentioned above are derivative of the W111 and W112 “Fintail” model, the W108 and W109 being the long-wheelbase four-door models and the W114 and W115 being shorter wheelbase two-door examples. The 108 designation refers to a standard wheelbase for the chassis, while the 109 notes a lengthened wheelbase for increased passenger comfort and some additional road presence (as well as the debut of air suspension, equipped in both front and rear as an early version of AIRMATIC). When the chassis debuted, three different inline-6 engines were available, derivatives of the early M180 and M189 engines and sold in both a carburetor and fuel-injected format. In the Mercedes style we’ve come to know and love, the 6 cylinder was tossed in favor of the 6.3L M100 V8 for the limited-production 1967 300SEL 6.3, a powerhouse that made it from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds. The “Second Series” facelift was implemented in 1967 and incorporated more modernization of the available six-cylinder powerplants as well as the introduction of the 3.5 M116 V8 and 4.5 M117 V8 following the positive perception of the 6.3 model. Many Mercedes fans will regard this generation to be the greatest Mercedes ever produced, both for the trademark styling as well as for the technological advancements made in fueling, styling, suspension engineering and drivetrain architecture.
- W/V 116: 1973-1980. The US-facing W116 was the first to bear the “S” nomenclature that the long-wheelbase sedan would later become synonymous with, and continued the growth in engineering and design present on the previous iteration. 280 “S” and “SE” models received the M110 inline-6, 350 “SE” and “SEL” models received the M116 3.5 V8, 450 “SE” and “SEL” models the M117 4.5 V8, and the venerable 450SEL 6.9 received the 6.9L M100 V8. Most notable was the introduction of hydropneumatic self-leveling rear suspension for the 450SEL 6.9, as Mercedes again proved to be a leader in cutting-edge suspension and ride comfort engineering. A diesel model was available late in production with the 300SD, an OM617-powered unit.
- W/V/C 126: 1980-1991. The W126 platform is perhaps the most well-known older Benz to the general public, due to both its long production run and its stellar road presence. In the United States, the W126-chassis could be had in either a sedan or a pillarless two-door coupe; rather interestingly, the Coupe wasn’t just packaging and had both a shorter wheelbase and one less seat in the rear than the sedan. This chassis was largely based upon the W116 and also saw both diesel and gas powertrains, but had a decreased drag coefficient and ABS as standard equipment, both very forward-thinking for the time period. Engines across the platform ranged from a gas inline-6, to 5 and 6 cylinder diesels, to a host of V8 engines (We see the introduction of the 5.6 M117 here) and by the end of production, the W126 offered both a passenger airbag (following the debut of the standard airbag and the first-of-its-kind seatbelt tensioner system as options in 1982, also on the 126) and an early form of traction control. Models were noted mainly by nomenclature, the “SEL” model being the long-wheelbase sedan and the “SEC” being the coupe variants.
- W/V/C 140: 1992-1999. Although many may consider it to be less-artistic than its ancestors, the W140 chassis and associated models are widely regarded as the best S-Class of all time. These vehicles came in a golden age of strong-but-reliable engines, robust build quality and ingenuity in simplicity on the interior of the vehicle. As early as 1995 this chassis was offering parking assist and a stability program, concepts still considered luxuries over twenty years later. The ride of this chassis has been reported as sublime even without the optional active damping package, largely thanks to double-wishbone suspension being used on the long-wheelbase cruiser. Performance was on the table as well, as engines ranged from the OM603 diesel, to the M104 inline-six, to the M119 V8 in a few displacement options, all the way to the halo engine, the legendary M120 6.0L V12. We saw a coupe and sedan style offered yet again, and nomenclature remained the same as the W126 until the middle of production; at this point we saw the chassis prefix flip to being presented ahead of engine displacement, so models such as the 500SEL became the S500.
- W/V 220: 2000-2006. The W220 was a bit of a black sheep in the Mercedes model range, as build quality suffered a bit in contrast to the incredible design of the W140. AIRMATIC suspension was introduced broad-scale on the W220, and while the comfort it provided was viewed as a strength by many, the expensive repairs of failed air springs and leaky compressors caught new owners off-guard. For the first time AMG models were available in large-scale, with the S55 and its M113K V8 as well as the S65 and its ludicrous M275 Biturbo V12; this engine also found its way into the S600, and all of these cars came with the capable-yet-expensive Active Body Control adaptive hydropneumatic suspension. Interior build quality was also a bit lacking on this chassis, being significantly more pedestrian and less artisan-feeling than prior models, but the W220 was still a comfortable place to spend time. Engines ranged from a few basic V6s, to different iterations of the M113 V8, up to varying-displacement-and-aspiration V12s.
- W/V 221: 2007-2013. The W221 chassis S-Class took the platform of the W220 and expanded it slightly, aiming to add a bit more refinement to the previous ill-received S-Class. The wheelbase and overall size swelled once again, enhancing cabin and cruising comfort. The optional Distronic Plus system gained a bit more capability, providing fully-functional radar cruise control capable of coming to a complete stop as early as the mid-2000s. “Pre-Safe” serves as a new safety feature for Distronic cars, effectively serving to detect an accident moments before a collision and “brace” the vehicle for impact, closing the windows, angling seats appropriately and applying braking in late-model applications. AIRMATIC remained standard, with ABC remaining standard on the S600, S63, and S65, though it was now optional across all other W221 models that were not 4MATIC-equipped; If you’re hunting for a budget W221 as a daily driver, you may want to save yourself a few pennies by ensuring the model you purchase was not optioned with ABC.
- W/V 222: 2014-2020. The W222 S-Class serves almost as a return-to-form for the chassis in the modern age, as for the first time in a couple of iterations we see the W222 provide all-new technology as well as a few body styles to choose from. A coupe option was available under chassis code C217 (We’ll touch on that in a bit, as it may be more CL-Class than S-Class) and a convertible of that model was available in the A217 chassis. We see the broad use of hybrid powertrains in the W222 S-Class for the first time, increasing fuel efficiency and torque while decreasing noise and NVH; the drag coefficient on these models was the best-in-class, reaching as low as 0.24 across US models. “Magic Body Control” is introduced as a replacement for SBC, and has been noted to genuinely be a bit magical in its function while promoting a smooth and plush ride, and the W222’s road-handling ability is also aided by a large-scale use of aluminum alloy. All power plants available pack the torque to move the hefty W222 with low-RPM elegance, and range from Biturbo sixes, to Biturbo V8s, to perhaps the final Silver Arrow Biturbo V12 in the S65 AMG.
- W 223: 2020-Current. The W223 S-Class promotes increased utility in the day-to-day for the S-Class, using a 48v mild-hybrid system across most models to increase torque and efficiency. This electric powertrain could be had hooked up to an M256 inline-6 at base level in the S500, the M176 Biturbo V8 at a higher level in the S580 (or, a plug-in hybrid system paired with the M256 in the S580e). AMG models in the form of the S63e and S73e are looking sharp and statistically should be good for around 800 horsepower via a hybrid driveline.
CL-Class: Coupe Version Of S-Class
- C107: 1972-1982. The original CL-Class can most easily be attributed to the original SLC models of the 70s, though this ultimately depends on how you designate the CL-Class. While many associate the CL-class vehicles of the past with a short-wheelbase, two-door variant of the S-Class, roots stem from increased safety scrutiny surrounding convertible models. Enter the SLC Class in the early 1970s, a solid-roof take on the SL-class. The body on these models was stretched slightly to accommodate rear seats but was otherwise build on a similar footprint, and while sales in the United States weren’t exactly successful, the SLC became a racing classic abroad; the M116 and M117 V8 drivelines, supple suspension and nimble chassis became a classic for long-distance rallying, and the C107 proved (rather surprisingly) to be a cult-classic off-road racer.
- C126: 1981-1991. The C126, commonly referred to as the SEC, forms the aforementioned noted above. This model truly was a coupe version of the same-generation S-Class, and build quality on these models was equally-robust. These can still be found cruising around town today, be it via the low rumble of the thumping M117 in the 560SEC or the slightly less-menacing pulse of the M116 3.8L V8 of the 380SEC.
- C140: 1993-1999. The C140-chassis was based off of the cult-classic W140, and as such is held in an equally-high regard. Noted as the S-Class coupe for 1993 through 1997 and eventually as the CL-Class for 1998-1999, this chassis can ultimately be attributed as the first to bear the CL nomenclature. For the same reasons as the W140 was beloved, the C140 was held in high regard; superb build quality, great technology, and an interior and ride that were unforgettable. Ultimately, today’s price separation on the market is really due to a marketplace preference for the big sedan. If you can stomach the two-door C140 (which I myself am partial towards), it can be an easy way to save a couple of thousands while getting into arguably the best S-class ever engineered.
- C215: 2000-2006. The C215 was the first to hold the CL-Class name across all of production, and likely is the car Mercedes fans picture when they hear the name “CL.” Based off of the W220, the swooping two-door coupes still have a ton of road presence today; they’re low, wide and elegant, and engine options range from “large” to “overkill.” At a base level for the US market the C215 saw the M113 V8, and received the M113K in an AMG model as well as both naturally-aspirated and Biturbo V12s. The C215 was plagued with some of the same suspension woes owners of the W220 remain bitter about, though interior quality was a slight step ahead of the sedan counterpart; even still, CL fans will likely side with the C140 over the C215. As such, a base C215 is one of the more affordable examples of depreciated high-luxury today; these can be had for pennies in comparison to their MSRP cost from back in the early 2000s.
- C216: 2007-2014. The C216 CL-Class was perhaps the most openly S-Class-based example of the CL, appearing essentially as a massive, swooping two door on the long S-class wheelbase. Despite its apparent size, the C216 CL cracks off some pretty staggering numbers when it comes to performance; the 2011 M278-powered CL550 4MATIC sprints to 60 in less than five seconds, pretty impressive given that an AMG-tuned V8 and Biturbo V12 exist further up the ladder. It’s a large car at over 5000mm length, and the cabin space, coupled with high-quality interior materials and comfort suspension, serve to make the C216 an excellent cruiser.
- C217: 2015-2021. In an interesting return to form, the C217 drops the CL nomenclature and exists as the Coupe variant for the W222-chassis S-Class. Confusingly, this model abandons the original zeitgeist of the CL in the option of an A217-chassis convertible, though this can most easily be thought of as an S-Class option rather than a change in structure for the CL-chassis. The powertrain and drivetrain options also saw a fair expansion, which you can view under the W222 tab above.
CLS-Class: Four-Door Coupe Based On A Comparable E-Class
- W219: 2006-2011. These CLS models were blueprinted on a stiffened W211-Chassis, but offered 2+2 seating for some extra comfort and space. This model aesthetically toes the line between the CL-chassis and the S-Class, offering a long-wheelbase, swooping-roof sedan with a bit less of an interior footprint than its S-Class chassis mate. Powerplants were most heavily V8-based via an M113K AMG unit as well as an M273 in the CLS550. Later in the production cycle, the M156 V8 could also be had at the AMG level.
- W218: 2012-2018. Oddly enough, the next CLS chassis moves backward numerically; we can assure you, the W218 CLS-Class is preceded by the W219. This iteration of the CLS-Chassis again used the E-Class chassis (albeit with a bit less attention paid to chassis rigidity and ride quality than the W219) as a foundation, adding luxury and comfort to the W212-chassis E-Class. Rather notably, we see brute force put on full display for the W218 in the US Market; the M278 4.7L Biturbo V8 as well as the M157 Biturbo 5.5 V8 could be had in this chassis, and both have their own cult following in the Mercedes community for their tunability and absurd power figures with light modification.
- W257: 2018-Current. The latest iteration of the CLS again uses the E-Class chassis as a starting point for the low-roofline cruiser, though the classic 2+2 seating trademark of the chassis is ditched in favor of a third seatbelt added in the rear. All-new for the W257 is a hybrid-assist EQ system and the return to a straight-six powerplant in the form of the M256 (the first gas-powered I6 from the silver arrow since the M104). The most current of the CLS-Class, this model is perhaps the most distinct-looking long-wheelbase model available in today’s Mercedes lineup.
G-Class: Offroad Military Vehicle Adapted For Civilian Use
- W 463 (US Market): 2002-Current. The Gelandewagen has been a staple of the Mercedes brand for decades, from its most rugged applications as a diesel-powered and rugged military vehicle overseas to a stylish and recognizable status symbol in the US. Although the zeitgeist has remained the same since its entry to the US market in the early 2000s, the W463-chassis has stayed relevant both through its bold styling and through timely updates and refreshes, the most noticeable being a 2019 facelift.
M-Class/GLE-Class: Mercedes’ First Dedicated Sport-Utility Vehicle
- W163: 1998-2005. The first-generation M-Class was heralded for robust components and a reliable driveline, the reason we still often find them on the road today. The trademark Silver Arrow family SUV of the early 2000s, the W163-chassis received some negative marks for exterior build quality, but was generally beloved by owners.
- W164: 2006-2011. The W164 took the successful blueprint of the W163 and expanded upon it, switching from a body-on-frame design to a unibody for increased comfort and highway performance. Styling was also improved and build quality standards were brought up to par, culminating to make the W164 a much stronger indicator of Mercedes in the Sport Utility market.
- W166: 2012-2018. The W166 took the outgoing W164 and brought it up to modern standards, adding technological improvements as well as a plethora of interior, exterior and driveline options to increase customization for buyers. The W166 began its production as the latest iteration of the M-Class, and in 2016 saw the trademark name dropped in favor of the "GLE-Class" as part of a mid-cycle refresh. All new for the W166-class, a hybrid model was made available in the GLE-class via the GLE550e. A coupe model was also introduced for the GLE-class.
- W167: 2019-Current. The latest iteration of the GLE-Class improves on the outgoing W166 with two powerplants new to the chassis, the M264 four-cylinder and the M256 inline-six. Expanding the capability of the chassis is a seven-seat option.
GL-Class/GLS-Class: Extended Wheelbase M-Class
- X164: 2007-2012. The X164 Chassis takes the proven W164 M-Class and adds more space and more comfort, leaning heavily on AIRMATIC suspension as well as its extended-wheelbase to make highway cruising and people-carrying a breeze. A diesel option was also available with the OM642 Biturbo V6 powerplant.
- X166: 2012-2019. The X166 follows its elder by packing a bit more of a punch, utilizing a host of Mercedes’ latest Biturbo powerplants to manage the size of the chassis in a fuel-conscious manner. Despite being taller, wider and longer than its predecessor, the X166 actually manages to weigh a bit less while packing more technology. An Off-Road package was also made available, carrying over the same factory upgrades as present on the W166 models.
- X167: 2020-Current. The X167 iteration of the chassis again swells a bit in size, gaining in wheelbase dimensions as well as overall width to promote an even more-composed ride. MBUX comfort and entertainment functions are integrated and both front and second-row seats can be had with heating, ventilation and massaging features. The second and third row are electrically-powered for the first time, allowing both rows to be folded flat at the touch of a button for increased cargo space. Additional customization features are also made available, culminating to make the X167 one of the more luxurious places to spend your time in today’s Sport Utility segment.
- V251: 2006-2012. The R-Class was a foray into the MPV segment, adding the trademark luxury of the brand to a low-slung, long-wheelbase tourer that many would most-closely relate to a minivan. The R-Class boasted utility in a streamlined package, effectively providing a family van that could comfortably seat three pairs of adults. Perhaps most notably, the V251 received some robust powerplants for what was effectively a family utility instrument; a diesel variant and M113 V8 model were available to provide substantial torque off of the line for all of the R-Class’ people-carrying needs, and in a rare package that many lust after today, buyers could purchase the V251 with the AMG-tinkered powerhouse of the M156 V8 in the R63 AMG model.
- X204: 2010-2015. Serving as the original Mercedes entry into the crossover market, the GLK-Class served as a handsome small utility effort targeting comfort in a useable footprint. A facelift and redesign was introduced in 2013 models, tidying up styling and bringing the X204 more up-to-date amongst a congested market.
- X/C 253: 2016-2021. The X253 chassis dropped the GLK nomenclature for 2016 in favor of the GLC-class, which serves most effectively as the C-Class of the SUV range offered by Mercedes. Both a coupe model (C253 chassis code) and SUV model (X253) were made available to the US market, where engines ranged from the M274 longitudinally-mounted inline four turbo, to the Biturbo M276 3.0L V6 in the GLC 43 AMG, to the M177 4.0L Biturbo V8 in the GLC 63 and GLC 63 S AMGs. These models served as the ultimate people-carrier for the small family, be it the luxury, comfort and fuel economy of the GLC300 or the rapid performance of the AMG models. A facelift in 2019 added the highly-acclaimed MBUX system and screen, and a hybrid was available for the GLC350e.
- X/C 254: Current. The X254 and associated C254 Coupe variants follow the success of the outgoing GLC-class, and makes small changes to improve occupant experience rather than making drastic strides. The X254/C254 integrate CarPlay into a new center-mounted 10-inch touchscreen, and color-adjustable mood lighting is present throughout the interior. Blind Spot Assist is present as well, and owners can now start and control interior features on their GLC-Class from their cell phone.
- W/A 208: 1998-2002. Following our earlier review, this CLK-chassis can most easily be considered as a “CL-Class” for the E-Class instead of for the S-Class; these models take the E-Class chassis and remove two doors in favor of a sleek, pillarless coupe. The W208 entered the US Market as a slightly-upmarket but primarily entry-level model, available with the M112 V6 at a lower level (and in an A208 Convertible model for both 320 and 430 models), the M113 V8 in the CLK430, and an AMG-tuned M113 shared with the W210 E55 for the W208 CLK55 AMG. Notably, this chassis received double-wishbone front suspension and multilink rear suspension, allowing the little two door to handle much better than those unacquainted with the chassis may perceive. Even today, the M113 models of the W208-chassis provide a tremendous amount of performance for an investment equivalent to a couple of paychecks, but much like the W210 buyers must be cautious of rust.
- W/A 209: 2003-2009. The W209 changes direction from the spirit of the CLK-chassis, acting as a two-door pillarless model of the W203 C-Class rather than of the E-Class as its predecessor did and successors would. The CLK adds a bit more size to the W203 as well as a bit more glamor, being one of the prettier models produced by the silver arrow in the past few decades. At an entry level these models received the M272 V6, but above there, the W209 gets interesting; Buyers could get an M113 in the CLK500, an AMG-tuned M113 in the CLK55 AMG, an AMG-rivaling M273 in the late CLK550, and an M156 V8 late in production for the CLK 63 AMG. We see two limited-production models stemming from this chassis in the Mercedes CLK DTM Edition as well as the CLK63 Black Series, and for good reason; the nimble blueprint of the W203 with the added width of the W209 chassis allowed for the creation of a performance instrument, capable of holding more engine than the W203 while keeping size and weight lower than other Mercedes models.
- C/A 207: 2010-2017. In another change in structure, the C207 drops the “W” prefix as it is no longer a distinct chassis; this model is the coupe variant of the W212 E-Class, and yet is based on the chassis of the W204 C-Class just like the W209 was. While the name changes to the E-Class, the spirit of the C207 E-Class coupe remains the same as the W209; a capable C-Class chassis, with the brute force of the E-Class engines available, all wrapped into a beautiful pillarless coupe package. The C207 offers the same engine combinations present on its W212 four-door counterpart, and also received some handy tweaks during the 2013 facelift.
- C/A 238: 2018-Current. The C238, our most recent iteration of the CLK spirit, returns to its original form; for the first time since its conception with the W208, this coupe is based on the W213 E-Class rather than on a C-Class chassis. The C238 again enters the market as an E-Class coupe rather than bearing the CLK prefix, but we see a chassis blueprint more in line with the current E-Class rather than borrowed from a lower-market model. The trademark pillarless design is retained, making the C238 a true stunner in the current Mercedes lineup. You can read more about the powerplants available in this chassis under the W213 chassis section above.
SLK-Class: Mercedes' First Small Roadster
- R170: 1998-2004. The R170 SLK-chassis was a bit of an innovator for all convertibles, let alone the Mercedes brand. A small-footprint alternative to the legendary SL-Class, the tiny SLK packed a fair deal of technology; the award-winning Vario roof hardtop was hydraulically-actuated, folding itself into a reverse-tilted trunk lid for storage until called upon to re-extend and latch itself in. The R170 could be had with a supercharged M111 four cylinder (with a clutched supercharger “Pre-Facelift” and an unclutched one “Post-Facelift”) or an M112 V6, both of which could be optioned with either a manual or automatic transmission. At the end of production, a rather-ludicrous AMG model was produced, the SLK32 AMG pairing a supercharged M112K V6 mated to an automatic transmission. This match was good for almost 350 horsepower in the tiny drop-top. As a result of the Chrysler union of the time period, this platform was shared with the Chrysler Crossfire and Crossfire SRT-6, a coupe designed around the R170 chassis.
- R171: 2005-2011. The R171 SLK-Class expanded upon the fun provided by the original R170. Powered at base level by a 2.5L version of the M272 V6 in the SLK280, the second-generation R171 used a similar (albeit less failure-prone) folding hard top. Engine options also extended to a 3.0L and 3.5L M272 for the SLK300 and SLK350 (respectively) offering a healthy bump in power with displacement; each of these models could also be had with an automatic or manual transmission. Starting in 2009 an “M014” package was added as an option, providing a different single-stage intake manifold, different camshafts and valve springs, a hotter tune and some more alterations. This model revved to a 7200 RPM redline and packed a good deal of extra power from its factory revisions. An SLK55 AMG model saw an M113 V8 jammed into the tiny chassis, and a ludicrous “Black Series” iteration of that car existed in extremely small quantities.
- R172: 2012-2020. The R172 chassis continued the spirit of the SLK-Class, though dropped the name in favor of the tested name “SLC.” In the US, this model could still be had with a manual transmission so long as buyers were content with the M271 EVO turbocharged-four powerplant prior to the name change, and an M152 V8 with an automatic could be had from 2012-2015 in the SLK55 AMG; otherwise, buyers were presented with M276-powered models in the SLK350 (naturally-aspirated) or the SLC 43 AMG (3.0L Biturbo) after the 2015 name update. The SLK350 was replaced by the SLC300 from 2015 onwards, swapping the M271 EVO 1.8L turbo for the M274 2.0L turbo four.
- W113: 1963-1971. We all know and love the W113, whether we know the chassis code or not. This model, known as the “Pagoda,” draws much of its styling and spirit from the legendary 300SL model (W198) that preceded it. Engine options on this model were exclusively inline-sixes. The automatic transmission was cutting edge for the time period, as was the multi-port fuel injection which was miles ahead of other manufacturers around the world. The prices alone of W113 examples today prove that the styling on this chassis is second to none.
- R107: 1972-1989. The R107 is one of the most classically-beautiful older benzes today, though response was lukewarm regarding its appearance at the time of production. As mentioned above, the R107 was the origin of the C107 chassis, though the two divide at the roof; the C107 is a full-time coupe, while the R107 provides a removable top for roofless cruising.
- R129: 1990-2002. The R129 builds largely off of the legendary W140 S-Class we’ve discussed at length, so it comes as little surprise that SL enthusiasts adore the powerplants and the design of the R129. The R129 was the first SL to have modern rear suspension with a multilink design, and included innovative safety features such as pop-up rollover bars and seatbelts integrated into the seat, rather than into the side pillar or door (to maintain appropriate tension in the case of a rollover). Just like models of the same era, the R129 saw the “SL” nomenclature shift to being before engine displacement, as the same model year produced the legendary M119-powered SL500. 1995 produced a facelift for the R129, with the most-notable shift being from a four-speed automatic to a five-speed. We strongly recommend pairing your DOHC M119 or M120 with this 5-speed for the best top-down combination possible. Six and twelve-cylinder models were both available across production, the former being available in an ultra-rare manual and the latter being the aforementioned M120. In AMG trim, a 7.1 and 7.3L version of the V12 were made; these are also the selected powerplant for the Pagani Zonda. This model offered an electro-hydraulic soft top with a removable hardtop that could be used as an alternative.
- R230: 2003-2012. The R230-chassis can be a touchy subject with die-hard Mercedes drop-top fans. On the one hand, this model saw an impressive amount of innovation, serving to make it one of the most technologically-advanced convertibles ever made in the early 2000s; this was the first SL to sport a fully-automated folding metal roof (just as the R170 provided on a small-scale), to integrated ABC, to a new stability control program and even to brake-by-wire technology. The R230 used the controversial AIRMATIC suspension alongside the equally-controversial ABC, resulting in a lot of negative feedback from owners who received a staggering repair bill. The engines were generally void of major expenses; the M113 of the SL500 and the M113K of the SL55 AMG was pretty stout, though the V12 of the SL600 could come with a hefty bill (particularly the Biturbo V12 models). In 2006 a facelift and redesign was implemented, adding the M273-powered SL550 as well as equipping the 7G-TRONIC 722.9 transmission for faster shifts. A second facelift was done for 2008, with a more drastic effect; the front of the R230 was manipulated enough to make this post-facelift model appear to be a whole new car. The 722.9 used here ditched the torque converter in favor of a quick-shifting MCT unit, which paired nicely with some new engine offerings; the M113 was ditched for the M156 for the SL63 AMG, though the SL65 continued to live on with its Biturbo twelve. A Black Series SL65 model was done on the post-facelift vehicle, with an imposing road presence and a torque figure to tear said road from the ground.
- R231: 2013-2021. The R231-chassis SL-Class brings the aging R230 up to date, using a host of new materials and technology to increase utility and comfort. All-new is a dependence upon aluminum for both chassis construction and body panels, helping to keep weight down despite an overall growth from the R230. The folding hardtop remains, though now integrates a panoramic sunroof, and the AMG model moves to forced induction; gone is the M156 in favor of the M157 Biturbo V8 for the post-facelift SL63 AMG. Additionally, V12 options were off the table unless splurging for an AMG model, a first for the SL-Class in several decades. Following a post-2016 facelift, engines in the R231 were brought up to modern direct-injected and forced induction standards. Mated to the speedy 9G-TRONIC unit were the 3.0L M276 V6 and the 4.7L M278 V8, both units applied in a Biturbo format. Both the interior and exterior were manipulated to appear both more current and sportier, and the aforementioned M157 V8 in the SL63 packed a boosted punch capable of a 0-60 sprint in less than four seconds.
- R232: 2022-Current. The latest SL-Class offering comes in the form of the R232, a unit that bears a distinct resemblance to the stunning AMG GTR coupe, with a bit of extra flair and elegance. This SL-Class takes a new approach on a folding roof by integrating a folding cloth unit, allowing for a lower center of gravity. A drag coefficient of just 0.31 proves the SL to be slippery, which bodes well for the M177 Biturbo 4.0L V8-equipped SL63 AMG. This unit also promises an electronic limited-slip differential. The MBUX interior screen is integrated well in the SL, and can be electronically adjusted to tilt sun glare away. DampMATIC adjustable dampers are available across all models, and as such, the latest SL will likely emerge to be the performance convertible that its ancestors haven’t been for decades.
- C117: 2013-2018. The C117-chassis CLA-Class Mercedes is an interesting one, as for the first time in the Silver Arrow brand we see a resposture in which the C-Class is no longer an entry-level model. The tiny CLA-class provides a fuel-efficient and relatively modular platform and driveline, depending on four-cylinder engines across the range as well as front-drive and front-biased 4MATIC drivelines pending options packages and models. The M270 turbocharged I4 was the broad-spectrum powerplant for this unit, providing decent figures as well as great fuel economy for the little sedan. CLA45 AMG models received the M133, an AMG-tuned turbo-four that would go on to hold the title of “most powerful factory four-cylinder” for a long while; paired with the 4MATIC drivetrain and a 7-speed dual-clutch, the nimble short-wheelbase micro missile offered the acceleration, braking, handling and brute force of a true performance car in a very tiny package.
- X156: 2015-2018. The X156 GLA-Class was effectively a trial run for the non-US Market Mercedes subcompact, paving the way for the later arrival of the A-Class in the United States. Power came from the same M270 four-cylinder at entry-level as the above C117, just as the AMG-tinkered GLA45 used the DCT and M133 of the CLA45. In an American market craving the luxury crossover, the X156 paved the way to the new arrival of today’s “MFA2” platform.
New to the Mercedes brand for today’s needs is the introduction of a modular platform, much like Volkswagen-Audi’s recent integration of the “MQB” platform to provide a versatile platform to be repurposed across several different styles of vehicle. In the case of Mercedes, we see a platform referred to as “MFA2,” which fixates on a transverse-mounted and front-biased drivetrain. Models on this platform range from the latest iterations of the A-Class to the GLB-Class, as well as the latest GLA-class and CLA-class offerings. Each of these models and their chassis codes is below.
The M260 engine was the trusted unit for the majority of these vehicles, a four-cylinder turbo four which improved upon the previous-generation M270. The M260 also fills the role of a new bracket from AMG in the “35” series performance models, including the CLA35, A35, GLA35, and more. This AMG tinkered unit isn’t hand-assembled like the M139 turbo-four from the same-generation “45” model vehicles, but does benefit from some additional tinkering for boosted power as well as a lightning-quick 7-speed DCT (as opposed to the 8-speed in the 45). The 4MATIC system across all of these vehicles can electronically manipulate power from front to rear to control slip, making any of the MFA2 models, performance or not, incredibly capable on the road.
- C118: 2019-Current CLA-Class
- X157: 2019-Current GLA-Class
- W177: 2019-Current A-Class
- X247: 2020-Current GLB-Class
Over the years, the Mercedes model catalog has seen what can feel like near-infinite comings-and-goings. While this can get overly complex at times, having a resource to consult can be vital. With this guide, you can pick your letter, arrange your numbers, and be the Mercedes-Benz brand expert that every Silver-Arrow DIYer aims to be.