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While the C-Series used to be a sure-fire way to impress your colleagues on a budget, the only nods you will get for a current model - C63 AMG aside - would be from the uninitiated.

The 2012 offering promises much more for your almighty buck, but the rumors have yet to be fully confirmed and even then it doesn't look like Mercedes-Benz improved on its prodigal compact very much.

The only thing keeping it in demand is the three-pointed star on the hood.

The C350 Sport brings the Baby Benz a little closer to competing with the up-and-comers, but only marginally so if you don't consider the makers.

The RWD C300s with the optional 7-speed automatic could run on E85 fuel.

Changes since then include a new instrument cluster for the Sport in 2009 and a Dynamic Handling package for the RWD Sport that was dropped for 2011, and a back-up camera and keyless ignition and entry for 2010.

The very first of its kind, the 201 series, is lovingly remembered for its fully encapsulated "whisper diesel" and 4-valve high-performance versions.

The 202 became known for its passenger-car-first 4-valve diesel engine, supercharged technology and roomy comfort for a compact - and unlike the 201-Series 190, the 202 was the first to bear the C-Class name.

Although at the outset there were just the 168-hp V6 C240 and 215-hp V6 C320 sedans, the next year brought the C320 wagon, supercharged C230 Kompressor hatchback coupe and 349-hp C32 AMG on board.

Mercedes added an all-wheel-drive 4Matic system in 2003 for its sedans and wagons.

The 2006 overhaul stuck around until the current generation's debut and included a complete trim reshuffling and the elimination of C-class wagons and hatchback coupes.

This was the beginning of the Sport and Luxury naming that determined the wheel size, transmission, suspension, style and interior.

The lineup also grew to include a C320 hatchback coupe, C240 wagon, and supercharged C230 sedan.

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