I just traded in my 2002 C240 for a 2006 C280...comparitively, it was as if I just walked into a cheap E class. While the C240 was a great deal at the time and a good first into into the Mercedes line, the C280 is just loads more fun, far more luxurious and a hell of a lot faster. The styling and appointments are significantly plush and sophisticated than both the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 series, and I know it gets more admiring double takes than either of the others. I can't imagine that there is a better deal under $40k for German engineering than the 2006 C280.
The redesigned dash which closely mimicks the E Class, coupled with the 228 hp engine 4matic make it a shining example of art in motion. Also enjoy the 3 level seat heaters vs the former on-off, simple but nice improvement.
Remove the phone dials from the dash; its a feature few people will invest in and would be better off as a dealer installed control than as a non- functional button cluster. Miss having the Teleaid feature which I beleive was a mounted (activation seperate)standard in the 2002 C240.