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buying advice

How to buy a serious Mercedes-Benz on a €20k budget - and 3 models to check out

The German auto maker has a deserved reputation for prestige – but a used Merc could be more affordable than you think.

WHEN A LOT of people hear the name Mercedes-Benz, they think: premium brand, German and probably expensive.

And while the latter can often be true, it doesn’t always have to be the case. Depending on which models you choose, there are numerous Mercedes models that can be picked up for what is a relative bargain compared to what they cost when new.

In Ireland, the majority of sales of the three-pointed star centre on the saloon market, where Mercedes-Benz has long had a strong game. From the popular C-Class to the range-topping S-Class, if you look towards slightly older models you can really bag a bargain. It is also worth remembering that any cars before mid-2008 will be at the older rate of motor tax, which was calculated on engine capacity, and in many cases often means an annual tax bill that can run into four-figure sums. However, if you’re willing to live with that, you can find yourself in a very well-appointed car.

Here’s some buying advice on how to get the best Mercedes-Benz models for under €20k.

1. Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2006-2014)

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This generation of S-Class (W221) is the predecessor to the current model and so is still very modern in the looks department.

Being the pinnacle of the company’s saloon range, the S-Class is spacious and comfy, but these cars can become prone to many squeaks and rattles over time. There are numerous electronic systems in this model, and these can become troublesome over the years, so be sure to take your time and check that everything is functioning correctly and not displaying any warning lights.

A thorough service history is vital with these cars. V6 petrol engines have been known to see premature wear of the timing chain sprocket, for example, and can lead to an expensive repair bill. Lower mileage models are always nicer, but becoming increasingly harder to find as more of these are now being used for taxi and chauffeur work. Even when you do find a good, clean example, it’s worth looking into getting an extended warranty.

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2. Mercedes-Benz ML-Class (2005-2012)

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The ML was designed as a counter to the BMW X5 and Audi Q7 to name but a few. This is one large SUV, but despite its size, it doesn’t perform too badly in the fuel economy stakes – relatively speaking of course.

It was offered only as a five-seater, and most models sold in Ireland were the 3.0-litre diesel. Many of these have ended up as second vehicles for school runs and the like, so while mileage may not be all that high, it’s worth checking that there aren’t any exhaust or DPF issues lurking under the surface.

Despite the current popularity towards SUVs, market demand for this model isn’t huge, and values have generally plateaued. While that can present some bargains, do consider looking towards a slightly higher value model especially if it has a better service history.

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3. Mercedes-C-Class (2007-2014)

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The C-Class is one of the most affordable modern saloons from Mercedes-Benz, and its size is ideal for both business users and families. Compared to its predecessor, this model gained better looks and an improved interior.

Most of these models sold after mid-2008 were diesel models, but there are still some examples of the 180 Kompressor, which used a 1.8-litre petrol engine.

The one seemingly common issue with C-Class models is premature rusting on the brake pipes, which can lead to an NCT failure, so this is one thing to look out for if possible when viewing used models. Any jerkiness in the 7G automatic transmission can usually be resolved by replacing the transmission fluid, so if you come across it don’t let it put you off straight away.

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More advice: Skoda, SEAT, VW or Audi? Here’s how to choose from Volkswagen’s vast range>

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