I notice the specs on 2003 C230 Coupe is quite different than the 2002 model. The 2003 Canadian model has a much smaller engine (1.8 L), and a much narrower torque band. I am glad I got the 2002 model.
The engine was changed in response to upcoming Euro emissions laws. It is more techically advanced. It has variable valve timing on both intake and exhaust, instead of just intake. It has balance shafts to make it smoother. It is just slightly less powerful, but uses 7% less gas. And it does make a lot less pollution. It is lighter because it is all aluminum.
Waiting was not an option. I had to buy a car. My old 280z was too dangerous to drive because of rust. Also, when I bought my car(s), no one knew there was going to be an engine change. I think I would prefer the 2002, anyway. The conditions in which I drive make the wider torque curve more desirable, although I think the 1.8 would do a good job, too. Also, the M111 is at this time more readily modified. I haven't gotten any mods yet, but I will. Unlike many others, I don't think the 2.3 is a rough engine, and the so called tractor like sound is minimal in my car and only lasts for about 30 seconds.
I really don't think one engine is better than the other, just somewhat different. I would be happy with either.
I just got my 2003 C230 two days ago, and the only major difference I have noticed is that the 1.8 is quieter than the 2.3, with a lot less of the 'tractor' noise.
My fiance's SLK230 has a very distinctive sound, and I can always tell when she is near the house because of that. My C230 is so quiet I sometimes don't know I've started the engine! I hope this trend continues, if for no other reason than to annoy my beloved.
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