Golf 4 and Mercedes C200 head to head

The Mercedes Benz C200 is one of the common Mercedes makes in Uganda because of its affordability and the readily available spare parts.
The VW Golf 4 is liked by some Volkswagen enthusiasts and is popular among people who love sports cars.

What you need to know:

The Mercedes Benz C200 is a five-seater sedan, which was introduced first in May 1993, as a replacement for the 190. It became common on the Ugandan market in 2012. The VW Golf 4 on the other hand, is a five-seater hatch back. It was the bestselling car in Europe in 2001. Both cars command respect in Uganda. Mustafa Ziraba explains the difference between these two German made cars.

On one side we have the Mercedes C Class W202 and on the other, we have the VW Golf 4. Both cars are from Germany manufacturers and the simple fact is, the Germans love rules and regulations. If you maintain them exactly as they say in the book, using the proper fluids and parts, they will last forever.
Mercedes vs VW is like comparing a Rolex watch and a Swatch watch. Both have the coveted “Swiss made” citing, however, anyone with an inkling knowledge of the watch industry would not want to hear Rolex and Swatch in the same sentence. But see Swatch just like VW, rocks some of the most pedigreed and recognisable watch brands in the world including Omega, Rado, Longines and Tissot under its belt. VW owns some of the most legendary car brands including Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Porsche, but yet the VW brand itself on a car is regarded as second tier or even third. Mercedes on the other hand, just like a Rolex, is a Mercedes, and that’s all there is to it.
This is a comparison of two cars that cost about the same and appeal to the same demographics, at least in used car circles. VW always marketed the Golf as a very reliable car and it didn’t become Europe’s bestselling car by accident. Both cars depending on the model, mileage and specification go for about Shs12 - Shs20 million.


In the used car market, you don’t have much of a choice in terms of colour, however, both cars were released in a variety of colours with more silver in both cars. Many times Mercedes simply looks better than the Golf. But this is more of an acquired taste as at some angles, for instance from the back, it looks very boxy and dated.
The Golf just isn’t glamorous or exciting, however, this means it has the kind of look that shall appeal to just about anyone at all angles. The Benz has traditional Benz sedan personality traits with chrome accents in some later models. Think of it as a smaller rendition of the bigger cousins of the time including the hard E-Class and the aristocratic S-Class, Up-front there’s a familiar-looking grille and a prominent hood emblem. If anything the timeless styling reveals that the C-Class has aged extremely well.
The Mercedes conveys a sense of robust, deep-seated quality, from the now aged but stylish interior with its well-chosen materials. Most used ones have the ceiling cloth falling apart. This is easily fixed with the right glue. The Golf has all its buttons within reach and are very visible.
However the quality of materials is a bit questionable. Both cars are roomy and can comfortably accommodate 4 – 5 adults.
In fact many at first struggle to reconcile the size of car to the interior space of the Golf. Because of both cars’ age, they both show dated interiors in terms of shape and look of the interior,. When driving, expect a ride free of squeaks and rattles from both cars


If we were limited to two words to describe the Golf on our roads, they would be resolved and agile.
Resolved because no one part of the car dominates. The engine talks to the transmission like two old friends catching up at a party.
Agile because even when driven at speed or a corner, it cannot be caught out.
The Merc on the other hand is a sort of retired solider with softer suspensions. It gives a sort of laid back lazy drive with a cushy suspension.
While the Golf is nimble and alert, the Merc exhibits superior performance.


Both cars come from a generations where most Germans car brands were getting “cheaper”. If you get a good one that was well maintained, and like clockwork continue the custom, you shall not regret.
Problem though is the fact that old German cars are simply not as reliable as their counter parts. Obviously you shall hear statements like “they are super if you take care of them”, sadly, the reality is many don’t take care of them as they should right from the first hand owner.
Things as commonplace as the window button can grow into a colossally frustrating problem. Proactively buying genuine parts is sort of binding.
Both cars are over 10 years old, any car over 10 years old is at some point going to be a problem car, but German problem cars are not the ones you want to hang with.
Parts are readily available though at a premium cost. Although both cars shall be cheap in the long run, you shall soon find out that things that are supposed to be cheap in any other car suddenly became expensive.
Always go for the late models that concluded the generation, that is, 2002 – 2003 models for the Golf and 1999 – 2000 Models for the Mercedes. The Golf is very notorious for failed transmissions that are quite expensive to replace.
The Merc has several electrical gremlins and one that comes to mind is the faulty Mass Air Flow meter, a statistic confirmed by Paul Kaganzi our resident mechanic.


Both cars tick the safety boxes with excellent safety equipment for cars of their time. Dual Air bags and ABS (Antilock Braking System) are standard. Because the Mercedes is a rear wheel drive, later models incorporated the Acceleration Skid Control (ASR). If the driver accelerates abruptly and one of the driven wheels starts to spin, it helps the wheel to regain sufficient traction.

The C Class premiered around the world with a 1.8 litre
as the base engine, badged C180, though the 2.0-litre C200 and 2.2-litre C220 have proved popular. The Golf engines include a 1.4L, 1.6L, 1.8L, 1.8L turbo, 2.0L, 2.3L V5, 2.8L V6 and 3.2L V6 all petrol engines.


When you buy any of these cars, depreciation hits hard and fast. That’s just the way it is. But the thing that makes Mercedes-Benz unique is that the three-pointed star signals something that is widely understood, engineering prowess. It doesn’t matter what the car is, a small car, big truck, limousine, boda boda, bus, sports car, if it has a three pointed star, people know and believe it was well made, extremely durable, and soothingly capable. And, like any product with similar attributes say a Rolex watch, Chanel purse, Bvlgari sunglasses, it naturally costs a little more. A Mercedes in whatever form in Uganda shall show that you are living the dream. The Golf or the VW on the other hand is a hit or miss. Granted by virtue of its German roots it shall command the desired respect and feel, however, if you are willing to stomach the extra maintenance cost on a used German car, the Merc shall eat the Golf’s lunch every time.

Weighing scale
Mercedes C200 VW Golf 4
Year of manufacture 1994 - 2000 1998 - 2003
Engine size y: 12.0L 2.0L
Engine power: 136 HP 115 HP
Max power RPM : 5500 5200
Accerelation (0-100kph) sec: 10.8 11.8
Fuel economy (highway): 11.6 km / Litre 13.2 km / Litre
Tank Capacity Litres 61 55
Cost price for used : Shs15 – 20m Shs12 – 16m
Resale value: Shs7 -10m Shs5 – 8m