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What you can get depends on where in the world you are
located. I can speak to the models Benz sold in the U.S.
I own both a 124 turbodiesel and and 210 turbodiesel,
so I'm familiar with both.
The choices in the U.S. are quite limited. In a 124 chassis
you can get an 86/87 sedan or '87 wagon with the OM603
engine. These are really nice cars, but there are not many
out there and they are getting a bit long in the tooth.
In comparison to my '98, the older car is not quite as
powerful, nor as economical, but it is darn close in
terms of smoothness/quietness. The 124 diesels (at least
the six cylinder OM603) is good enough that noone will
ever ask if it's not gas powered.
In the early 90s you could get a 124 chassis sedan with the
OM602 engine. This is essentially a five cylinder version
of the same engine. I've never been in one, but folks tell
me it's pretty decently smooth & quiet, and has better
acceleration than its 121 horsepower should provide.
Compared to the earlier cars it is slower and more
In 1995 we got the OM606 in the 124 chassis, but in non-
turbo form. This is the 3.0 liter, 24 valve, six cylinder
In 1996 & 1997 the chassis changed to the 210, but it still
had the same non-turbo OM606.
Years 1998 & 1999 brought the OM606 turbo in the 210
chassis. I have one of these. It's a great car. Good
power, great fuel economy. It's smooth and quiet - noone
would ever suspect it's a diesel. Even sounds good when
you step the throttle!
On the older cars you need to be aware of the trap
oxidisers. These have been recalled, so be sure it is
replaced. A very few of the OM603 cars have been known
to crack cylinder heads - an expensive repair.
I don't know of any real problems with the OM602 cars.
My '98 model has been less reliable than I would expect.
All problems have been fixed under warranty, and fixed
correctly. None involved engine mechanicals.
I have heard from several sources that the 95-97 models
with the non-turbo OM606 engine have surging problems
which can be difficult to resolve. I've not heard of
this problem on the turbocharged versions.
You can't go too far wrong with any of these cars. I'd
rank condition and price as more important than exactly
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