While the Mercedes-Benz C-Class range has been a volume seller for the German prestige brand, the AMG flagship variant has been either out of reach for most budgets or a no-go zone for the feint-hearted.
But with the addition of the new Mercedes-AMG C 43 (known originally as the C 450 AMG Sport overseas) Benz now offers a ‘lighter’ version of the hardcore C 63 S.
Ranging from $101,900 to $119,900 across the sedan, wagon, coupe, and convertible body variants, the C 43 consistently saves more than $50,000 over the C63 equivalent.
Vehicle Style: Medium prestige coupe
Price: $105,615 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 270kW/520Nm 3.0-litre 6cyl turbo petrol | 9sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 8.2 l/100km
The Mercedes-AMG C 43 comes powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, positioning it against rivals such as the BMW 330i and 440i, and Audi S4 and S5 - as well as plugging the gap in the C-Class range between the 2.0-litre four-cylinder C 300 and 4.0-litre V8 C 63 S.
As a part of the Mercedes-AMG range the C 43 is more closely aligned with the heavy-hitting C 63, sharing features such as AMG Ride Control adaptive sports suspension, enlarged brakes, AMG sports steering, and chequered-flag-style AMG instrument cluster.
Unlike the C 63, the C 43 does without the aggressively widened bodywork, but still receives a full AMG appearance package, diamond-patterned grille, and a set of alloy wheels unique to the growing ‘43’ range
- Standard Equipment: Leather seat trim, heated front sports seats, panoramic glass sunroof, dual-zone climate control, aluminium sports pedals, keyless entry and start, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, ambient interior lighting, head-up display, sports instruments, 19-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 13-speaker Burmester audio, satellite navigation, CD player, DAB+ digital radio, Aux and USB inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity
- Options Fitted: Performance Ergonomics Package ($4990) including AMG Performance seats, flat-bottomed leather/microfibre steering wheel, AMG performance exhaust system.
- Cargo Volume: 400 litres
While the dashboard design might be familiar to existing C-Class owners, the C 43 range adds a few unique sporting touches to complete the sporting theme, particularly when loaded with the Performance Ergonomics Package of our test car.
Grippy AMG Performance front seats provide support in all the right places, keeping the driver firmly in position as road conditions heat up, and the leather and microfibre-trimmed AMG Performance steering wheel is a joy to grab a hold of.
AMG black leather trim with red topstitching comes with the Ergonomics package, and the detailed red finished stitching throughout the cabin helps bring life to an otherwise sombre looking interior.
Otherwise the C 43 Coupe mimics the regular C-Class range with high-quality materials everywhere you look and touch, a sporty driving position, and quite a roomy feeling for the front seats.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 270kW/520Nm 3.0 litre twin-turbocharged petrol V6
- Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, all wheel drive
- Suspension: Four-wheel AMG-tuned multi-link suspension
- Brakes: Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with cross-drilled front rotors
- Steering: Electrically assisted power steering
While it might be adorned with the AMG logo, don’t expect the C 43 to deliver the same kind of angry rumbling from the engine as the C 63 S does. Where the C 63’s V8 suggests it’s in need of some anger management therapy, the C 43’s V6 is relatively polite.
The twin-turbocharged 3.0 litre V6 is less responsive from low revs, especially in Comfort mode, but there’s a boisterous mid-range to be exploited with the nine-speed auto’s middle ratios.
Gearshifts are quick although not as rapid as the C 63’s multi-clutch seven-speed automatic. More frustrating, is the auto’s denial of downshifts from third to second that we experienced in some of the drive route’s tighter corners.
Though the C 43’s 4.7 second 0-100 km/h sprint time may not be as scintillating as the C 63’s 4.0 second run, the new C 43 is still half a second faster than the 5.5-litre V8 C55 AMG from a decade ago while providing an almost identical 270kW and 520Nm.
One of the defining differences between the C 43 and all other models in the C-Class range is its 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. It not only counters the traditional AMG image of smoking rear tyres but also removes steer-from-the-rear sensation often felt in the C 63.
Mercedes-Benz claims torque distribution is normally rear-biased, but out on the road the C 43 feels more neutral than that.
The C 43 maintains the fine chassis balance we’ve come to expect from the latest C-Class, and won’t attempt to surprise its driver when pushing on, though some of the more delicate steering feel has gone missing in the translation to all wheel drive.
That said, the steering itself is excellent, responding quickly to inputs with a consistent feel throughout its turning arc.
The C 43 maintains the ultra-stiff ride of the more focussed C 63 even with the dampers set to Comfort mode. In even-firmer settings, the dampers tend to take a moment longer to settle over high-frequency undulations despite what Mercedes describes as only a minor calibration difference compared to the C63’s suspension.
ANCAP Rating: The C-Class Coupe range has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: Nine airbags, 360-degree camera, pedestrian protecting active bonnet, fatigue monitoring, blind spot assist, lane keeping assist, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, ABS brakes, electronic stability and traction control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Mercedes-Benz is yet to confirm capped price servicing costs for the C 43 range.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
When it comes to powerful six-cylinder performance and competent dynamics the BMW 440i coupe and 330i sedan set the dynamic watermark for the segment, however the gruntier Mercedes-AMG has the BMW twins licked when it comes to outright power and torque figures.
If you’re patient Audi will have a new S5 coupe arriving in Australia early in 2017 to line up alongside the S4 sedan and wagon that are due here shortly as well - with a classy interior, and all wheel drive grip, the new-generation S models will be sure to give Benz a run for its money.
With smart styling and a terrific supercharged V6 engine the Jaguar XE S might be an outside choice, but pin-sharp steering and connected handling make the XE S a true driver’s car.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Mercedes-Benz says the C 43 range is intended to appeal to buyers who can’t stretch to the C 63 S - and at around two-third of the price the C 43 Coupe certainly goes beyond delivering two-thirds of the AMG experience.
Though the feel from behind the wheel requires some re-calibration to get used to for something that comes from MB’s go-fast division, the C 43 is still very much a honed, capable, and enjoyable AMG product.
It might lack the evocative soundtrack of the C 63, and wear a more conservative suit of clothes, but the Mercedes-AMG C 43 is still bristling with performance, technology and style in a way that’s sure to appeal to savvy enthusiasts, and badge-snobs alike.
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