For 2006, Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class gains new engines and new designations. The C240 is gone, and save for the C230 Sport Coupe, all models are sedans, with no wagons available.

The C230 carries a 2.5-litre V6, and is available as a Sport Coupe, Sedan or Sport Sedan; the C280 Sedan uses a 3.0-litre V6 and is available with 4MATIC all-wheel-drive; and the C350 Sport Sedan uses a 3.5-litre V6 and is also available with 4MATIC. The C55 AMG continues to use its 5.5-litre V8 from 2005.

Other changes include a seven-speed transmission, a six-CD changer on the Harman/Kardon sound system, headlamp washers are only available with bi-Xenon headlamps, and parameter steering is available. On the exterior, Barolo Red replaces Bordeaux Red, Iridium Silver replaces Brilliant Silver on the sedan, and Desert Silver, Midnight Blue and Black Opal have been discontinued.

Features on the C230 models include a six-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to the new seven-speed automatic, 16-inch alloy wheels, side and curtain airbags, black M-B Tex upholstery, heated windshield washers, ten-way manually adjustable front seats, aluminum trim, CD player, multifunction steering wheel, automatic climate control, cruise control and illuminated vanity mirrors. The Sport Sedan adds automatic climate control, leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob.

The C280 Sedan uses the seven-speed automatic, and offers the same features as the C230 Sedan. The C280 4MATIC splits the torque full-time 40/60 front to rear, and uses a five-speed automatic transmission.

The C350 Sport Sedan includes the larger engine, and adds leather seat inserts, automatic climate control, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, sport front seats, integrated garage door opener and Memory Package for the front seats, steering column and exterior mirrors. The 4MATIC offers the same features but with all-wheel-drive.

The C55 AMG features 18-inch wheels, five-speed automatic transmission, sport seats with Nappa leather upholstery, ten-way power front seats with three-position memory, multifunction steering wheel with power adjustments, automatic climate control, cruise control, integrated garage door opener, split folding rear seat with ski sack, auto-dimming mirror, CD player, and Smart Key with programmable user-recognition.

The C-Class’ new line-up offers something for everyone: an entry-level that allows buyers to join the Mercedes-Benz family for a relatively low price-tag, a mid-range with luxury features, and a top-of-the-line model with performance to back it up. The new base engine is a welcome improvement, offering more power than the 2005 Kompressor but without turbo lag or maintenance. The styling is still unmistakably Mercedes-Benz, but with a slick profile and those lovely double headlights.

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