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Mercedes-Benz C Class

2006 Mercedes-Benz's C-Class Review

by Martha Hindes

Mercedes-Benz C Class
Mercedes-Benz C Class Interior

It's all in the sixes and sevens. And that's not a throw of the dice. The sixes are the smooth shifting manuals that switch Mercedes-Benz's C-Class standard transmissions from gear to gear. The sevens are M-B's industry-only seven-speed automatics that allow a powerful glide up the gear spectrum with hardly a perception of shifting along the way. More shift points mean more room for perfecting a smooth comfort ride, or to launch a performance surge by bypassing several gear points to land at just the right rev spot. Such technologically celestial shifters are among highlights of these entry lux vehicles that are door openers for owning a Mercedes-Benz.

Headlining the all-sedan C-Class for 2006 is an innovation that anticipates new, more stringent federal headrest requirements for all vehicles by 2008. M-B has added an active head bolster that senses impending whiplash conditions during a rear-end collision and moves the headrest forward and upward for injury-preventative support.

C-Class doesn't stint on variety. Models start at a budget pampering C250 sport sedan and top out at solidly-luxury C55AMG, a limited edition blow-out powerhouse. All five C-Class models have agile "driver's car" road manners under the skin. For 2006, advanced shifters are paired with a family of new-generation V-6 engines for a power boost. The C280 and C350 lux models have available 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, while C55 AMG rides on a 5.5-liter V-8.

The new engine family adds welcome muscle to most C-Class models, without losing mileage. The C230 sport gets a 2.5-liter version (201-HP), C280 lux gets 3.0-liter (228-HP), and C350 lux or sport-trimmed model gets 3.5-liters at 268-horsepower.

A redesigned exhaust system reduces back pressure to increase power. C-Class got a major overhaul a year ago, with specific, performance-boosting refinements taking the stage for 2006. Inside and outside, the C-Class is sportier than ever before, with such touches as aluminum trim, clear headlamps and redesigned center console. The emblematic Tri-Star rides high on the hood.

M-B has snuck in some varying price increases to its range of C-Classes for '06. At the low end, the C230 sport sedan adds a scant $5 to last year's price, bringing base including destination to $29,975. The top, V-8 powered C55 AMG performance sedan is $55,225, $605 more than a year ago. With the C-Class, M-B proves it has covered all bets, with nothing left as a gamble.