Concocted more by the marketing department than the engineers, the 43 range fills the gap between those regular Merc models and the purebred AMGs. While they go without the unique body panels, human finished engines and race spec suspension, they also cost considerably less and, after our experience with the c 43 coupe, seem to be a more sensible choice too.
The C 43 two-door is $52,000 cheaper than the C 63 S, still pricey at $120,900 but it’s not ridiculous coin either. And after a week with the junior, we weren’t left wanting. Compared with the 63 S, there are two fewer cylinders under the bonnet, the 43 powered by a 3.0-litre biturbo V6 poking out 270kW and 520Nm, enough to allow for a 0-100km/h in 4.7sec, aided by AWD traction.
The system runs a constant 31/69 front to rear torque split, and the outputs are handled by a nine-speed auto. Unlike the range-topping AMGs, there’s no unique componentry. Rather the bits are AMG-fettled; the gearbox and steering software enhanced, the spring and adaptive damper rates tweaked to give it a sporty but not so hardcore performance bent.
Still, it all adds up to a well conceived package, not as thrilling as the thundering V8 C 63, but more useable. The 43 is better on the ears, it goes without the constant unpleasant roar of rubber that afflicts the C 63 on New Zealand roads, and so you get to enjoy more of the exhaust note. While the sports exhaust is an optional extra, it’s money well spent if you prefer the note of a six.
It reminds of the wailing British sixes of yore, though updated with the drama of the brarps on the overrun and bangs during upchanges. And you can make the noise louder by lowering the split folding back seat. There are the usual multitude of drive modes, and with more forgiving spring rates than the 63, the full Sport+ mode for the adaptive dampers is perfectly suited for road use. It could be even firmer and still deal aptly with road irregularities.
The steering is quick with its variable ratio but neither particularly sharp nor feelsome. And I’m still not a fan of the suede-like treatment on the AMG steering wheel which offers less grip than the leather sections of the wheel.And what will it look like in a year’s time?
There are shift paddles but with nine gears you can get lost in the ratios and, save for a reluctance to downshift quite as quickly as we’d like under braking, the software otherwise does the job for you. There’s hardly a hint of lag off the mark from the V6 and, once in the thick of its torque, the throttle response is quick in the sportiest mode.
It revs soundly though is done by about 6000rpm, the redline arriving abruptly, although the auto will upshift well before this point, in the lower gears at any rate.
Merc claims an average of 8.2L/100km, but somewhere between 11 and 20L/100km, depending on throttle applications, is more realistic. The constant AWD allows you to punch the gas hard out of the turns and there’s little ESP intervention in the intermediate sport handling mode. Throttle-on understeer can start to rear its head in the tight stuff but otherwise this a sound performance package with brakes that are up to the task too.
The AWD aspect of the 43 range makes them a more capable performance package in more parts of Aotearoa. Even on rain-soaked Auckland arterials, the extra traction is welcome and, with the drive mode switched back to Comfort, the 43 does a better job of pampering than the stiffer and noisier-riding C 63.
There’s a slight increase in the turning circle with AWD but the quick steering rack otherwise helps with parking-type manoeuvres.
The AMG seats lean more towards sport than comfort, but do offer plenty of support. They are fully powered, and so take their time to motor forward when you have to squeeze someone in the back, though once they are in, there’s enough head- and leg-room to endure most journeys.
The boot too is practical for a coupe, and complemented with a split folding rear seat. There’s little you’ll want for in the 43 Coupe; surround view camera, adaptive LED lights, head-up display, full infotainment system, lots of active safety widgets, and a well crafted-cabin environment.
The look of the Coupe is well conceived too with its bobtail spoiler though the wheels look too elegant; a racier design would suit better.
But if any AMG product can be labelled as sensible, the 43 range surely is the best candidate.
|Model||Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe||Price||$120,900|
|Engine||2996cc, V6, T/DI, 270kW/520Nm||Drivetrain||9-speed auto, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||8.2L/100km||C02 Output||188g/km|