Mercedes-AMG C43: The New Coupe Cometh
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Wait a minute, which AMG is this one again? The C-Class Coupe? Oh right. But not a C63? Um ... Okay.
You have to kind of forgive the confusion. Until recent times, any Mercedes-Benz bearing the three-letter prefix of mad tuner boffins Aufrecht Melcher Großaspach was a much rarer beast; a track monster that merely sitting in became a special occasion.
Not that the opportunity to drive one of the German carmaker’s rapidly-multiplying AMG models is anything less than a treat now, too, of course.
But with the addition to the lineup of 2-litre four-cylinder turbo AMG 45 and 3-litre V6 turbo AMG 43 variants, Mercedes-Benzs with an AMG badge on the boot lid are becoming, dare I suggest it, ubiquitous.
Then again, is this a bad thing? Not for enthusiast drivers. And certainly not for the local distributor, which can’t land the darn things fast enough.
New Zealand has long been a buoyant market for AMG products (the same can be said of arch-rival BMW’s M cars and Audi’s RS line here, too). Kiwi buyers love horsepower, especially when it’s contained within a tautly muscular Teutonic body shell.
So the addition of the AMG C43 sub-set (available in sedan, coupe and cabriolet flavours) is no bad thing.
In fact, they’re their own thing entirely.
They are designed to appeal to people who want a touch of aggression from their daily drive, but don’t need to go everywhere at nine-tenths accompanied by a shouty fire-and-brimstone soundtrack.
To give it its full name, the coupe on this page is the Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic. It features a 270kW twin-turbo V6 under the bonnet, rather than the raucous 4-litre V8 of the C63 S. (The latter can still be had in each C-Class silhouette, incidentally.)
So, not the V8 one. But the C43 still hugs the ground and features aggressive alloys at each corner. It still boasts trick safety technology and an excellent infotainment system.
And inside, Mercedes-Benz’s modern take on what a premium interior should look and feel like is all present and correct.
Pub arguments have escalated over lesser things, but of the big German manufacturers I reckon Mercedes-Benz designs the best interiors on the market. (Don’t write in.)
Unlike the rear-wheel drive C63 S, this coupe features Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic all-wheel drive system underneath. In fact, all C43 models in each body-style do.
The system helps provide for an engaging drive, but naturally feels a little more confidence-inspiring on twistier roads, unlike the C63 which demands more of an enthusiastic hand on the tiller to rein in any stepping-out of the rear.
Again; that will be the appeal for many who want an AMG badge on their car, but don’t intend to treat a run to the supermarket like it’s the Karussell section of the Nordschleife.
Mercedes-Benz is quick to labour the point that C43 and C63 buyers are different. Driving each version back-to-back reinforces this idea in my mind, too.
Photo / Supplied
And my wallet. Well okay, not mine specifically, but the 3-litre twin-turbo V6 sports coupe shown here is a whopping $52,000 less than the version with a couple more cylinders in the engine bay.
The “on paper” deficit in power and torque between the two versions becomes a moot point when you’re driving the AMG C43 4Matic in a bit more of a spirited fashion.
It’ll still sprint from zero to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds, which is quick enough for most drivers in congested cities, and not so slow in comparison to the big brother C63 as to be shockingly noticeable.
It also still features AMG Ride Control suspension, speed-sensitive sports steering and all the exterior bodywork you’d associate with an AMG model.
It even has a couple of extra gear ratios over the C63, with the 9G-Tronic nine-speeder on-board, rather than the AMG Speedshift MCT-7 gearbox in the latter.
The same optional package that secures you deeply sculptured AMG sports seats also — weirdly — gets you an AMG Performance Exhaust. This allows you to add further bark to the car’s bite with two distinct settings.
The default setting is hardly anything approaching silent mode, but it might help you stay on-side with your neighbours if your day starts early.
The AMG C43 4Matic also features Mercedes-Benz’s Dynamic Select system, which allows you to scroll through four drive modes, individualising key components.
Your acceleration can be sharp and sporty, but your suspension can be tuned for a more cosseted ride, for example.
I love the 19-inch AMG twin-spoke alloy wheels that are exclusive to the C43 models, too.
Well, I loved them slightly less after seeing what was essentially a carbon copy design on a tarted-up Toyota Camry, of all things; but they remain sporty and understated. And something you won’t see on a C63 S.
See? Completely different. Ish.
MERCEDES-AMG C43 4MATIC COUPE
ENGINES: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol (270kW/520Nm)
PRO: Blistering pace, all-wheel drive assuredness, AMG Performance Exhaust (with $4990 Performance Ergonomic Package)
CON: Not the V8 C63 S, the more practical sedan offers the same level of performance