Buy/Drive/Burn: Checking Out German Strippers From 2002

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
buy drive burn checking out german strippers from 2002

German cars in North America are not immediately associated with base, no-option models or economical motoring. But that didn’t stop Adam Tonge from suggesting today’s trio. Which vehicle gets the Buy when you’re shopping at the bottom of the German luxury barrel in 2002?

Ladies and gentlemen, select your strippers.

Each member of today’s trio was the cheapest vehicles on offer in North America from their respective manufacturers in 2002. The only option we’ve allowed for today is the Quattro one in the Audi, just to level the playing field a bit between competitors. Audi vehicles are supposed to have Quattro.

Audi A4

Audi had a ’90s hit on its hands when it brought the A4 to market as a replacement for aged 80 and 90 models. Following up with a difficult sophomore album for the 2001 model year, the A4 grew just about an inch in all dimensions, while maintaining a familiar shape. Front-drive or Quattro all-wheel drive was available, as expected from the Four Rings. The basic version of the A4 had a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Most of the 170 available horsepower travel to the front wheels until some slip is detected, then power shifts around as needed. The Quattro cost about $1,700 more than the front-drive version, bringing the A4’s ask to $26,650.

Mercedes-Benz C230

Mercedes introduced the brand new, serious C-Class lineup for the 1994 model year, replacing the even more staid and conservative 190E from the 1980s. The second W203 generation debuted in 2001, just like the A4 above. Mercedes introduced a coupe version to North Americans for 2002. Today’s C230 was the first time customers could purchase a C-Class with two doors, as Mercedes experimented with a new hatchback body style. Though Europe had more engine options on the C-hatch, North America received only the C230 version, in Kompressor guise. Under hood, a 2.3-liter supercharged four delivered 192 horsepower to the rear wheels. Shifting was done via a six-speed manual. The C230 asked $24,950 with no options.

BMW 325i

The elder statesman of our group from a branding perspective, the 3 Series had been going strong as BMW’s global compact offering since 1975. The 3’s fourth generation hit the streets for the 1998 model year, receiving a facelift for 2001 to keep things in step with its new German rivals. The 325 model in particular returned to BMW’s stable for 2001, after being on hiatus since the ’95 model year. BMW offered two more cylinders than its two competitors; a 2.5-liter inline-six produced 184 horsepower. The horses went to the rear tires via a five-speed manual. No options selected meant an asking price of $26,990.

Three sexy German strippers, which one goes home with you? Minds out of the gutter, please.

[Images: Mercedes-Benz, BMW, VW]

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2 of 41 comments
  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Aug 17, 2018

    My love for hatchbacks still doesn't buy this MB any love. Burn. This is no 190 or C-class from the late 90's. It's an odd car and looked cheap, even when new. Drive the Audi- I had a 2004 Jetta GLS Wagon with the 1.8T. I drive a '17 Golf with the Gen 3 1.8T and a 5 speed manual. I'm a fan of VW/Audi cars, but I'm wary of the long term, even though my Jetta gave me zero problems ( second-hand from a Ford dealer no less) Buy the BMW- Inline 6, not too bloated, still handsome after all these years ( as is the Audi, but it's more anonymous looking).

  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Aug 18, 2018

    Those C-series Mercedes deteriorate like an old Volare, German quality indeed.

  • Master Baiter As I approach retirement, and watch my IRA and 401K account balances dwindle, I have less and less interest in $150K vehicles.
  • Azfelix With a name that sounds like a bad Google translation, problems appear to permeate every aspect of the company. I suggest a more aggressive advertising campaign during The Super Terrific Happy Hour show to turn things around.
  • Buickman GoneFast.
  • SCE to AUX I sat in a 200 in the showroom, and promptly walked away. The back seat was extremely awkward to ingress/egress, and the car was small inside.Turns out even Sergio agreed, and he was upset about it: attractive exterior hid a terrible car. Those early 9-spd autos were awful.
  • Pianoboy57 I've always thought the 300D was just about the perfect car. Mine would have been green like my current Outback is. Once upon a time there was a Volvo diesel at the nearby BHPH lot. Too bad nobody rescued that one. I did have the privilege of owning a TDI Sportwagen and I would have kept my 02 Passat if it had been a diesel wagon. A few years ago I used to see older TDI Passats for sale on CL by owners who claim to have taken good care of them. Too bad you can't get a diesel in an Outback.