Mercedes-Benz has plugged a rather large hole in its popular C-Class Coupe range. Before now there was a $78k gap between its regular range-topping C300 and the fire-breathing C63 S. But slotting right in between them is the new Mercedes-AMG C43 - the first six cylinder coupe from Benz' performance division in over a decade.
But is it just a bench-warmer for the $162,115 C 63 S? Well, let's find out...
Vehicle Style: prestige medium coupe
Price: $105,615 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 270kW/520Nm 3.0-litre 6cyl turbo | 9sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.2 l/100kms | As Tested: 11.4 l/100kms
The doubters will tell you the Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe isn't a genuine AMG. Originally sold internationally as the C 450 Sport, the coupe has no V8, its twin-turbo V6 is made in-house by ‘Benz unlike the V8s which are hand-assembled by the AMG gurus in Affalterbach, and it lacks the clutch-packed seven-speed automatic transmission of the V8 hero, substituting a nine-speed torque converter automatic instead.
To which we say “rubbish!” True, at $105,615 (plus on-road coasts), the C 43 is the entry-level AMG coupe, but you’d hardly say Mercedes-AMG has democratised the brand – the C43 is a stand-alone high-tech, high-performance all-wheel-drive coupe and a deserving member of the AMG team.
Our test car was fitted with the $4,990 Performance Ergonomic Pack (AMG performance exhaust system, AMG performance front seats and AMG performance steering wheel in black Nappa leather with Dinamica microfiber hand grips) which lifted its price to $110,605 (plus on-road costs).
- Standard Features: Leather trim, head-up display, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, automatic wipers, automatic headlights, active cruise control, multi-colour ambient interior lighting, sports instruments, alloy pedals
- Infotainment: 13-speaker audio with DAB+ radio, CD player, Aux and USB inputs, Bluetooth compatible
- Options Fitted: Performance Ergonomics Pack ($4,990)
- Cargo Volume: 400-litres
When it comes to ‘supermodel’ interiors, AMG can lay claim to being one of the best.
The optional Performance Ergonomics Pack fitted to our test car would be number one on our wish-list thanks in no small part to the excellent AMG sports front seats and thick AMG sports steering wheel which are included.
Throw-in some red highlight stitching and the AMG floormats and the regular top-notch Mercedes-Benz C-Class interior has been nicely ‘revved-up’.
On the practicality front – like all coupes – when a lanky person gets comfortable up-front there isn’t a lot of rear seat legroom.
ON THE ROAD
Engine: Twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol 270kW at 5500-6000rpm, 520Nm at 2000-4200rpm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, all wheel drive
Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated discs
Steering: Electric power steering
Does that extra heft blunt the Merc’s performance? Nope – it’s actually marginally quicker than the Audi and matches the BMW at 4.7 seconds for the sprint from 0-100km/h.
Sure there’s an all-new S5 coming soon, but to beat the current direct rival from Ingolstadt in that critical sprint provides an appropriate rebuttal to those diehards who bemoaned the C 43 as being two cylinders shy of a real AMG Coupe.
Fact is, the C 43 feels like an AMG product in most ways, from its firm suspension, snappy gear shifts and raucous exhaust... make that very firm suspension, very snappy gearshifts and very raucous exhaust note when you dial-up Sport+ (especially with the Performance Ergonomic Pack’s sports exhaust).
Of course the twin-turbocharger configuration dispenses with turbo lag and even in Comfort or Eco modes there’s plenty of urge for both standing starts and when overtaking.
While it’s true that, like all AMG products, the C 43 with those 19-inch wheels and low-profile rubber does provide noticeable tyre noise, especially on poor roads surfaces, on the other hand, when cruising on the freeway with an impressive ‘9’ (as in ninth gear) showing on the head-up display, this German coupe is remarkably devoid of engine noise or wind noise – until you crack the whip and the engine responds with booms and crackles every gear change. It's glorious and a big reason why performance car enthusiasts love AMG products.
Where the C 43 feels different to others wearing the AMG badge is when the road throws-up some curves and the ‘Benz 4Matic all-wheel-drive system (split 31:69 front/rear) comes into play.
Initial turn-in is the usual AMG precision but, when you’re back on the power, naturally there isn’t that lively feel and rear-bias you get with rear wheel drive AMGs.
It’s not an understeerer by any stretch, just not as fidgety in the rear as other AMG vehicles... but the good news is all of that twin-turbocharged V6 performance is delivered to the tarmac regardless of the conditions.
ANCAP Rating: The Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe range has yet to be tested by ANCAP - the equivilant, but structurally different sead was awarded a 5-star rating in 2014.
Safety Features: Nine airbags, ABS anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot assist, lane-keeping assist, fatigue detection, active bonnet, 360-degree camera
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometers
Servicing: Every 12 months/25,000kms. Capped price servicing for the first three years ($510 for year one, $1,035 for year two, $1.035 for year three
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
While the all-new Audi S5 Coupe isn’t far away, the newcomer will have to be brilliant to best the current version. You’ll need $122,616 (plus on-road costs) for the S5 and that buys you 245kW/440Nm of supercharged V6 performance, the expected Audi ‘S’ driving dynamics and the hallmark interior excellence.
BMW has the 440i coupe priced at $99,855 (plus on-road costs) and while the turbocharged six-cylinder delivers 240kW/450Nm it is lacking the AMG performance kit of the C 43 (for that you’re looking at the M4 which requires an outlay of $149,615).
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Don’t believe the nay-sayers – the C 43 is the real AMG deal.
Fast, noisy when you want it to be, firm and high-tech... and with the hallmark AMG sporty interior.
Sure we love the brutish C 63 S but we also love the all-paw sophistication of the C 43... and the change from the V8’s $162,115 price tag is not insubstantial.
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