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Mercedes Rewards C300 Drivers With Manual Transmission

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For the first time in a long time, Mercedes has put a manual transmission in its entry-level C-class, or any sedan.

The C-class is new this year with Sport and Luxury models. The midsize sedan is sold in three trim levels with two V-6 engines, a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.

The C63 AMG will debut this spring with a 451-horsepower, 6.3-liter V-8.

The manual transmission may be a price-point gimmick, but it also throws down the driver's glove to challenge BMW and Audi. Mercedes-Benz can build a driver's car, too.

The C300 has a starting price of $31,975, which includes a 228-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 with standard manual transmission or optional seven-speed Touch Shift automatic, which is the only choice for the Luxury model.

The C350 Sport ($37,275) has a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and seven-speed Touch Shift automatic transmission.

Sure, a 451-hp, V-8 Mercedes makes a statement, but for less than half the price, I liked the simple driver involvement of the C300 with the six-speed. And it was a risk for Mercedes to offer a manual.

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