Mercedes C-Class sales have increased four fold over the past decade, and it doesn't take a degree in marketing to understand why. The C-Class appeals to buyers because it offers a range of models at attractive prices. The C-Class brings the three-pointed Mercedes star to the rest of us, with coupes starting below $27,000 and sedans below $30,000. The C-Class delivers Mercedes engineering and safety technology. The model line includes hatchbacks, four-door sedans, and wagons. Sport models are available for those who want a sportier driving experience. And full-time all-wheel drive is available for some models, improving safety and traction in slippery conditions. The C230 coupe is the least expensive Mercedes sold in the United States, offering sporting character in a practical package geared toward first-time Mercedes buyers. But we think the C-Class is best represented by the C320 sedan, with its smooth, powerful V6 engine, responsive transmission and classic Mercedes balance of ride quality and handling. Climb in and the C320 looks and feels like a Mercedes-Benz, featuring firm, supportive seats and mostly high-quality materials. All C-Class models feature redesigned interiors and freshened exterior styling for 2005. New paint technology imbeds microscopic ceramic flakes in the clear coat finish, increasing its resistance to chipping and degradation over time. Every model comes standard with a full-complement of airbags and an Electronic Stability Program, the latter designed to prevent skidding in corners. Mercedes has also further distinguished the sport models from the standard luxury sedans for the 2005 model year. The sport models, which now account for more than half of C-Class sales, come with a new six-speed manual transmission that greatly improves shift action. At the top of the C-Class is the new C55 AMG, an extreme sports sedan that can knock your socks off when you floor the accelerator then pull them back up when you hit the brakes. (Or is it the other way around?) In spite of improvements to the entire C-Class lineup, Mercedes has held the line on price increases. Nearly all the 2005 C-Class cars are priced identically to the last 2004 models. In short, the C-Class is more appealing for 2005. Buyers will still pay a slight premium for the three-pointed star when compared with a similarly equipped BMW 3 Series or Audi A4. But for those seeking Mercedes-Benz engineering, design strengths and mystique in a mainstream sedan, it doesn't get any easier than the C-Class.