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2006 Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG reviews

May 3, 2006 12:54 PM EST | Luxury Brands , Mercedes-Benz , Sedans | Email to Friend | Comments (0)

View large imageProdigious power, predictable handling and a sharp-looking interior make this one of the most satisfying sport sedans on the market.

Tire-shredding torque available at any speed, crisp and predictable handling, still comfortable despite its sporting intentions.

No manual transmission available, tight backseat, not as involving a drive as Audi's S4.

What's New for 2006
The high-performance C55 receives no significant changes this year.

AMG. Those three letters are as revered by auto enthusiasts as ERA or RBI are by baseball fanatics. But what do they stand for and what are they doing affixed to various Mercedes-Benz vehicles? The first two letters stand for the names of the founders: Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, and the last letter signifies where the company was born: Grossaspach, Germany, back in 1967. What Mr. A and Mr. M did was modify Mercedes-Benz automobiles for better performance, be it for road use or racing, in which they were heavily involved. As the Free Price Quotes at years went on, AMG became known as a premier tuner of Mercedes-Benz automobiles, and eventually offered interior and exterior modifications, such as custom instruments, steering wheels and seats, as well as ground effects, spoilers and wheels. The company did such a great job that Mercedes-Benz brought it in-house in 1990, and as a result, AMG now has its own high-performance skunk works, similar to rival BMW's "M" division. There is now an AMG version of nearly every Benz model, from the C-Class line's C55 to the CL-Class' CL65, and they all feature powerful engines, agile suspensions and subtle accents inside and out to set them apart from their more common brethren.

From 2002 to 2004, the AMG-modified version of the C-Class was known as the C32. It had a supercharged 3.2-liter V6 engine. Last year, Mercedes replaced that engine with a 5.5-liter V8 and gave the car its current C55 nomenclature. The C55 AMG puts its never-ending stream of power to the ground via an AMG-fortified five-speed automatic transmission complete with three driver-selectable shift modes: standard, sport or manual. The standard and sport modes provide shifts in traditional fashion with the sport mode serving up a more aggressive shift program. Manual mode allows for driver-controlled shifts through one of two methods: moving the shifter side to side within its gate or actuation of the steering wheel-mounted shift buttons.

At around $55,000, the C55 is the least expensive AMG product. Order a couple of options, and the C55 ends up being a mid-to-upper-$60K sport sedan. This isn't exactly a bargain four-door, but with a V8 engine and handling that's as sharp as many sports cars, it doesn't seem so steep once you're behind the wheel. Between its stunning performance, sedan practicality and the cachet of its three-pointed-star pedigree, the C55 is more than just your average sport sedan.

Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The four-door C55 AMG comes in just one well-equipped trim level. Standard features include a sport-tuned suspension, 17-inch wheels and tires, 10-way power sport seats, leather upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, metallic cabin trim, a revised instrument panel (compared to the regular C-Class), dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo with a CD player and a sunroof. Options include a navigation system, satellite radio and HID headlamps.

Powertrains and Performance:
The C55 AMG packs a 5.5-liter V8 that puts 362 horses and 376 pound-feet of torque at the driver's disposal. An AMG-tweaked five-speed automatic transmission is the sole gearbox choice. Dubbed SpeedShift, this automatic is so quick and smart that most drivers won't miss having a manual tranny, especially in rush-hour traffic. With the 0-to-60-mph dash coming in at around 4.5 seconds and a top speed that's electronically limited to 155 mph, those who need speed should be more than happy with the C55. Braking ability is impressive as well, with stops from 60 mph coming in at less than 120 feet, according to Mercedes.

In addition to expected safety features, such as four-wheel antilock disc brakes and three-point seatbelts with tension limiters for all occupants, the C55 boasts stability control and eight airbags. In government crash tests, the C-Class earned four stars (out of five) for frontal impacts and a full five stars in side impacts. In frontal-offset crash testing, the IIHS gave the C-Class a "Good" rating (the highest possible) and named it a "Best Pick" overall. The C-Class earned an "Acceptable" rating (second highest) in IIHS side-impact testing.

Interior Design and Special Features:
Cabin materials are generally first-rate, with pleasingly textured, soft-touch surfaces all around. A pair of 10-way adjustable sport seats hold the pilot and co-pilot snugly, while a choice of single-tone or two-tone upholstery, metallic accents and unique instrument faces give the C55 its own look inside.

Driving Impressions:
Simply put, the C55 is a blast to drive. The instantaneous power from the V8 makes for rapid acceleration at nearly any speed, and the tightly wound suspension is well up to the task of getting the power to the ground. As capable as it is in corners, it's not a car that will beat you up on your morning commute. Overall, the C55 is an outstanding combination of dazzling performance and everyday drivability.

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