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http://www.thecarconnection.com/consumer/Reviews/cars/001204_HalvorsonC320.asp?idSection=06&idCategory=5
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Baby Benz gets a new attitude.
by Bengt Halvorson



As I took my first drive in a new C320, a weekend jaunt on a fine stretch of two-lane
that snakes tightly over the Cascade Mountains, I pondered a car that, to me, is a bit
at odds with its subtle, understated advertising campaign.

The "Live. A Lot" ad campaign that we’ve all seen previews the new C-Class as a
car for younger baby boomers to splurge on and maybe hold on to their youth. But
the initial feel from behind the wheel was more that of a spirited, driver’s car, rather
than the stylish and practical, albeit a bit stolid and reserved feel I got from
experiences with the old C. Truth is, the C-Class has changed a lot, and even if M-B
doesn’t necessarily want to think of the new C as a BMW chaser, it’s going to steal
some sales away from its German rival.

Personality makeover

At first glance, the C-Class retains a similar outward appearance to the car that it
replaces, but at second glance you begin noticing subtle but dramatic changes in
the new car. The near lack of any front overhang, and a long, sloped windshield are
the most apparent changes, as well as a more raked appearance to the grille and
headlights, the unusual headlight shape reminding me of the shape one might see in
a lava lamp when those gooey globules are fusing together. From every angle, the
new C is sharper and more curvaceous.

Mercedes-Benz attests that it didn’t forget about safety with the C-Class’s bent
toward a sportier image. Dual-stage front airbags, side curtain airbags, and side
door airbags for front and rear are standard. Dynamically, the company’s Electronic
Stability Program (ESP) continues to be standard on all Mercedes-Benz models for
2001. The system incorporates various sensors, including yaw sensors, to
determine when there’s a loss in driver control and correct for it using the throttle
and anti-lock braking system. Also standard is the unique Brake Assist system,
which assures that full braking force is delivered during panic braking.

While the C240 has a more refined and powerful 168-hp, 2.6-liter V-6 engine for this
year, replacing a four-cylinder as the base engine, the C320 replaces the former
C280 as the upscale model, featuring a 215-hp, 3.2-liter V-6. The 3.2-liter in the
C320 is essentially the same engine that appears across the M-B line, in the
CLK320, SLK320, E320, and ML320. The all-aluminum, single overhead cam
engine has three valves and two spark points per cylinder.

Lacking manual control

Although a six-speed manual transmission is available in the base C240 model, the
C320 only offers an automatic transmission. M-B officials said that there are no
plans to bring the manual transmission to the 320. The pred
 

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The bottom line of this: A generous helping from the
options list could easily put the sticker price on the high side of $45,000, nearly that
of a base E320.


45K?
I will take the base M3 (at msrp, which is already loaded), thank you.
MB C-class always have attractive starting price, but many of their options, where you can find standard in Accords EX, cost outrageous $$$.
They call themselves "luxury cars"? Pleeese.
 

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Thanks for the article Teg. I agree i'd rather have a M3 anyday compare to a loaded M-B C320. Of Course the AMG version C32 is sweet with 21 bhp and 63lb.-ft more torque than M3. But then again advantange to M3 for a base price that is $8000 less than C32.
 
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