You know, if you want to save some money, you might want to put off this purchase for about a year until the end of the model year for the car you are interested in. According to the chatter on Edmunds, MB has recently started to provide their dealers with discount incentives on selected MY 00 products, to clear out the lots for the '01s. BTW, at about this time last year is when MB offered discounts on many of the '99s (between august & october, if I remember). My crystal ball says that if you wait, you could get between 2K and 4K off MSRP by waiting a year……
As I'm sure you know, when a manufacturer sets MSRP it has more to do with pricing a car in a given perceived class of vehicle than any arbitrary dollar or cost valuation. Look at the feature/cost is offered by BMW, Lexus, Volvo, Acura in the $30K range. BTW, isn't the C a new revision this year? Is the stick a 5 speed or 6? I'd be willing to bet that next year, with the '02 models, MB will do with the '01 C class what they did with just about everything else for MY '00, and that was to make a feature increased cost "adjustment." Plus, of course, they'll have the opportunity to work some of the initial kinks out of the new model….
All this said, payin' around $30K for a spanking' new Benz is a bargain as new MBs go!