Many people say the W208 and W202 are the same car. I find them similar, but not the same. If two cars have the same roof, they're the same car. The Camaro and Firebird are the same car. Ditto the Fox bodied Mustang and Capri. As are several Chevrolets / Buicks / Pontiacs / Oldmobiles from the 60's forward.
For those that don't know, an A pillar is what holds the windshield in place and suspends the front of the roof. When a car is constructed, a lot of things can be moved around, but the A pillar is fixed. Since the 202, 208, and 210 all have unique A pillars, I think they're all unique cars. The CLK's windshield has a 208 part number. The pads and clips that hold it in place are 210 and 124 part numbers.
Seeing as how the 202/208/210 are all made by the same manufacturer, they're going to have a lot of similarities. I suppose if I sat in a W202, W208, and W210, I could notice the differences, but from memory, the instrument clusters looked the same. Speedo dead center, tach to the right, and gas/temp to the left. However, looking at the part numbers - everything in the CLK's instrument cluster begins with the numbers 208 and 210. Unless I'm mistaken, all 202 instrument clusters begin with the numbers two zero two. The headlamp wiper/washer switch , the antitheft/towing switch, seat heater switch, power window switch, ESP switch, rear window blind switch, and the European-spec folding outside mirror switch are all 210 part numbers. The HVAC controls have a 140 part number. Although they are similar in appearance, the dash boards are definitely different. That's because the three cars are three distinct widths. The CLK is narrower than the W202, which is more narrow than a W210. Ever look at the part number for a CLK steering wheel? Excluding the Designo (which isn't a 202 part number), here are your choices 2104600203, 2104600303, A2104601303, 2104601203, 2104600903, & 2104601403. Notice all the 210 part numbers? The steering shaft behind it is a 2084601216. In all fairness, the floor and support brackets on a W208 are 202 parts. Naturally, on top of that floor are the seats. In a CLK, the front seat covers are all 208 part numbers, while all the brackets are 210 part numbers. The rear seats use 208 specific part numbers. I didn't see any 202 parts in the seats
Same chassis? I don't believe one can simply look at two wheelbases and say it's the same chassis. This isn't a Camaro/Firebird concoction. The wheelbase may prove the frame rails have a similar length, but that's just the rails. For example; The W210 E and the W163 ML have the same wheelbase - 111 inches. OK, truth be told the E is a half inch longer, but those two definitely are not the same vehicle. Lets look past the frame rails and take a closer look at the suspension itself. The rear subframe on a CLK is part number A2083500408. The W202 uses part number 2023509208. If the two cars were the same, the rear subframe should be the same. The rear of all three cars are suspended by the MB patented five link rear, so lets look at the front suspension. The steering box and center drag link for a CLK are 202 parts. That said, look at the W170 SLK drag link. It looks like a 202 drag link that got shrunk in the wash. The W210 E looks like a bigger version of the 202 part. That's because it's the same design in different sizes. But that's the steering, look at the suspension itself. The items circled in purple are E parts, the red is 208 specific and the 202 part has a green arrow pointing at it. The front and rear springs have 210 part numbers. Take a look at how the spring perches are welded in on a 208. They appear the same as a 210. Has you seen the perches on a 202, are they the same? The brakes? All four brakes have 210 part numbers for the disc and backing plate. Not a 202 number anywhere to be found.
I don't think they started the W208 from a clean sheet of paper. I think they looked at the 202 and saw what they could use. I think they also looked at the 210 and saw what they could lift from it. The 208 definitely isn't a 202 with two doors shaved off. I don't think a 208 is a 202 or a 210. It's a 208.
© 2005 Marcus Blair Fitzhugh