A not insignificant amount of motoring enthusiasts spent a not insignificant amount of time bitching and moaning about the Mercedes C-Class, which over the last decade or so has seemed like an exercise in cost-cutting in order to get as many common folk into tri-stars as possible. Those days are no longer, as the current generation C, revised slightly for '05, has gone back to exuding the Mercedes quality of yore, with well-balanced chassis, a range of potent engines, and materials that finally match the inflated prices. A 2005 C-Class can run you anywhere from $26,000 to $55,000, with power numbers spread over a wide 168 to 362 horse scale. The C55 AMG is the all-new beastie, with its own special sheet metal, wide track and naturally-aspirated V8 that can blitz to 60 in about five seconds. All C models will have new suspension settings and a new nanotechnology paint option that supposedly resists scratching three times as well as non-nano paint. Gimmicky? Sure. The future of automotive paint? Perhaps.

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