Ask the Mechanic


Mine is not a car trouble issue, but it is still about cars. For a person intending to purchase a brand new Mazda 3, Mazda 6, VW Golf or VW Tiguan, is it wiser to import or buy locally?


Hello Joseph, importing the above cars brand new is most likely buying them online or relying on someone abroad to walk into a showroom or visit a dealership on your behalf. There are pros and cons for both online and local car purchases. For example, buying a car online is as easy as clicking a few buttons. It also saves time since information is readily available, prices clearly posted and the process is less tedious with no price haggling or human delays. When you buy the car online, it is at your convenience with no sales pressure. You may also get a discounted price enjoyed by a bigger market abroad.

There are, however, a few challenges with importing a brand new vehicle such as the ones you mentioned. You may forfeit the three year warranty cover unless an intricate territorial support allowance is provided to cater for the local dealer. In the same vein, the car models you have mentioned may not be tropicalised or built for export to Africa (grey imports). This may make spare parts and after sales support difficult as well as invalidate the warranty cover.

When you import or buy online, you may not be able to negotiate special pricing or payment terms. Also, since you are not able to see or physically inspect the car during purchase, you may be disappointed with the delivered product yet you most likely forfeited the opportunity to negotiate a trade in or return of the car in case of a fault.


I cannot decide which car to buy between the C180 Kompressor, C200 Kompressor or the E320. Which is a better buy when you consider durability, maintenance costs and fuel consumption? Albert. 


Hello Albert, if your choice between the E class and C class Mercedes Benz sedans is guided by value for money, maintenance and running cost, then you should be looking at the smaller and cheaper entry level C180 Kompressor. Mercedes Benz is a posh brand, with a reputation for reliability, comfort, good performance and class. These features are shared in different proportions between the top level S class, middle level E class and entry level C class Mercedes sedans.

When comparing the E and C classes, it is useful to consider styling, comfort, practicality, ownership and running cost. The Mercedes E has a more subtle focus on elegance and is a class above the Mercedes C, which is more sporty and aggressive. The E class is larger, more refined and costly to purchase while the entry level smaller C class offers a measurable Mercedes experience at a lower cost.

The E class is more comfortable and roomier with ample leg and headroom for both front and rear passengers as well as a spacious boot. The C class on the other hand has a smaller boot, with tight leg and headroom for the rear passengers. The bigger E320 you are considering has an edge over the C class in terms of performance (engine power and response), handling and control. The C class Kompressor engines (C180/C200) you are looking at are pleasant to drive with impressive engine power, thanks to their supercharged engines yet more fuel efficient compared to the E320.

The C180 and C200 Kompressor engine maintenance costs are more or less the same. However, the C180K engine gives slightly better running cost or fuel economy.

To maintain these Mercedes engines, you must use pricey top quality full synthetic oils and recommended premium petrol, which comes at a cost. Your return on investment will be the overall reliability, comfort, performance with impressive Euro NCAP safety test ratings shared between the E and C class Mercedes sedans.  This is what makes the C class a ‘bang for buck’.

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