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New Jetta TDI vs Used Mercedes CLK 350


I am hesitating between the two following car purchases: VW Jetta TDI '09 or Mercedes CLK 350 '05 (They’re about the same price).

I think the VW is probably a wiser car to buy (new, 3-year warranty, great gas mileage, more recent security features) but I’m in love with the look (both inside and out) of the CLK.

Any idea what I should do ? It seems I have to choose between the heart and the brain. Help!



You obviously already know the answer to this. To put things in perspective, all Mercedes cars have poor reliability and very expensive maintenance and repair costs.

The Jetta TDI has been around for a while, but is now only being introduced to the US. Its reliability is better, and the new car warranty will keep you out of trouble for some time.

It’s sort of like choosing between a Miami life guard and a good looking Swedish engineer. Who would you most like to spend the next 10 years with?

Hard to come up with two more different cars. Your choice. Just be prepared for significant repair $$ on the CLK, which is a ‘worse than average car’ according to CR.

When you purchase a new car, you start out with new tires, new battery, new winshield wiper blades, etc. If the two cars you are considering are the same price, the new car would seem to be the way to go.

If you are determined to purchase a Mercedes, check out the price of a new Mercedes CLK 350 against the cost of the 2005 you are looking at. Add in the cost of tires, battery, and other estimated repairs to see how much you are saving by purchasing the 2005 used Merceds CLK 350 over a new one. You probably should check out the price of a comparable 2005 VW model to see what the depreciation rate is on the VW.

If I were choosing for myself and had to choose on of the two vehicles you listed, I would choose the new VW. However, I buy vehicles for their utility and tend to purchase cars with only the essential features and interiors that make a school bus seem luxurious, so my buying advice may not apply to you.

Hi there,

thanks for the reply. I would get the CLK in a Mercedes dealership and it will be certified. Would that somehow help on the reliability side?

Triedaq - a brand new CLK is $46,000. A 2005 CLK with only 29,000 miles on it (not a lot for California) is $25,000. It sounds like a decent deal to me…?

The Certified means that the car has no defects at the time of sale; it will still be very unreliable, and very expensive to maintain (normal maintenance)if you drive it a normal amount. How much the car cost new is irrelevant; you can buy a used Jaguar for very litlle compared to its original selling price. That does not make it a good deal.

The Mercedes makes sense if you drive very little, want to be noticed at the country club, and enjoy name-dropping at cocktail parties.

A certified car has been through a number of checks to ensure that MB will warranty it. This does not make it more reliable, but will make sure there are no defects at sale as Docnick said. What warranty does MB offer for the 350 CLK? Is it certified by MB, or by someone else Do not accept anything but factory certification.

Does fuel mileage mean anything? The Jetta will get 29/40 vs. 18/26 for the CLK320. Depending on how much you drive, the cost could add up.

Triedaq - a brand new CLK is $46,000. A 2005 CLK with only 29,000 miles on it (not a lot for California) is $25,000. It sounds like a decent deal to me. . .?

Triedaq here–I’m the wrong person to answer this question. The Mercedes has lost 46% of its value. If the Mercedes will run 200,000 miles, it has been used less than 15% of its life. On paper it looks like a good buy if you want this type of automobile. I just looked at a 2008 Chevrolet Uplander van that had a price of $12,500. The new price was $26,000. The van had gone 35,000 miles. The van retained 48% of its value and assuming it would be good for 150,000 miles, it still has more than 75% of its life left. In summary, a purchase is a good buy only if it is what you want. I have several colleagues that drive Mercedes Benz cars and they take them 60 miles to the nearest dealer for servicing. I have a wonderful independent shop and a Chevrolet dealer within walking distance of my house. The convenience of service is important to me.

It sounds like this will be your only car. If so, you need a quick reality check - do you ever want to take more than one other person? Do you ever want to take anything large? The CLK is a fun second/third car. I wouldn’t want it as my main source of transportation. Here’s an idea - get the Jetta, then treat yourself once a year to a ‘fun’ rental. Hertz and other have them.

I think you have the CLK and the SLK confused. The SLK is a 2 seater. The CLK is a 4-seat coupe.

Yep, my bad.

Here’s a better idea. Get the Jetta and use the difference in operating costs to treat yourself once a year to a Carribean cruise!

Hello there,

first of all, thanks for all your replies. I really appreciate the input.

As you may have guessed - and as I have said in my OP - I’m a little biased toward the Mercedes since I really like the car itself. So I’d like to play the devil’s advocate a little bit more to get a sense if it would really be a bad decision.

This will not be my only car as my wife and I already own a VW Rabbit.

I very rarely carry around big things, don’t have kids (and don’t plan to for a couple of years) and for the rare moments when I have more than one (tall) passenger to drive around, I would use my other car.

The MB dealership where I saw the car has a one year / 100,000 miles warranty on it, and a two weeks exchange / return policy. The car is certified and it’s like new inside. (Not saying it’s like new under the hood though ;). The only repairs I would have to take care of in the first year would basically be the tires. (And convenience of service is not an issue here in LA).

My plan isn’t to keep the car forever, probably a year and a half at best. My goal is definitely to add a little money at that point and switch to another, more recent car.

Hmm… :smiley: What to do, what to do!

I think we have a maturity issue here. Normally, the husband has the workhorse car and the wife a small car, or, if you are RICH, a Mercedes coupe. I came close to buying a Jaguar XKE at one time, but got married and bought a Dodge Dart, since we were planning a family.

As others have pointed out, no matter how good this deal looks, the Mercedes willbe very expensive to own and operate.

Others are trying to warn you of a financial pit you may be digging for yourself. If money is no object, as it is with some of my friends, go ahead and buy the Mercedes. I would personally feel like a heel driving a Mercedes, and my wife driving a Rabbit.

Here are some cost projections for the Benz and the Jetta. The CLK320 will cost much more just because it is out of warranty. As a certified car, the Benz will cost less than listed since some or all of the repairs will be covered, but not for 5 years.

Note that the Jetta cost is for the gasoline model, not the diesel. They don’t have a TCO for the TDI yet. The estimated cost difference over 5 years is $14,000 in favor of the Jetta. The usual suspects account for the difference: insurance, maintenance, fuel, and repairs.

The other posters do not realize that MB(if MB certified) gets 5yr(from date of first purchase or lease) or 100,000 mile warranty on the vehicle.

The OP never mentioned if it was a certified car, so why would we think it might be?

The Jetta TDI has been around for a while, but is now only being introduced to the US.

Well VW has had diesel cars in the US a long time. They even had a diesel version of the bus. I had a Diesel Rabbit back in the 70’s. Today I have a TDI (Turbo Diesel Injected) New Beetle and it is a 2002 model, I believe the TDI was introduced into the US a few years prior.

What has happened recently is the introduction of the new cleaner models that have been around in Europe for several years, but could not come over here because the trucking industry fought the new cleaner diesel fuels the new car’s needed. In fact they did not import any 2008 models because of this problem.

To the OP, I am like you and I was looking at a MB diesel when I bought my Rabbit diesel. When I got my 2002 I did not even consider an MB.