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REVIEW: Mercedes-Benz E43 AMG is a sensible choice

2018-03-23 07:25

Charlen Raymond

Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

Cape Town - The performance arm of Mercedes-Benz, AMG, produces powerful vehicles capable of instilling fear in rivals and demands respect of those behind the wheel. Despite being tuned for performance not every driver is keen to have his/her teeth rattled by the harsh suspension or feeling the brutality of a V8’s punch.

Mercedes-Benz has realised this and, since a few years ago, has been rolling out ‘softer’ AMG models, usually with a "43" nomenclature.Instead of a brutish V8 engine they instead, they are powered by a 3.0-litre V6 engine with bi-turbo technology. 

The E-Class has been on the receiving end of the 43 treatment and does have a fair amount of flair to its arsenal to really redefine what we’ve come to expect from AMG vehicles. It’s still very much E-Class but the product has been altered. Quite a bit.

Powering on

The aspect of this car that most people would want an answer to is how the vehicle drives. Does it move the way an AMG should? Does it scream bloody murder as you near the rev limiter? Does it come with the road presence that have people gasp and whistle at you? In short, yes.

With power being sent to all four wheels, there is no shortage of grip as it limit is reached. In fact, the balance on this car is so brilliant that there is virtually no understeer. Goven its E-Class roots (read: comfort-tuned suspension) it remains comfortable even with the car’s driving mode in its firmest setting (Sport+). That’s a real plus for an AMG. Steering, too, is not heavy but it’s not light to the point that it is devoid of any feel. And on that Mercedes-AMG needs to be commended.

The V6 engine is the same unit that is also used in the C43 AMG and GLE 43 AMG but power has been increased to 295kW and 520Nm. That’s quite a bit of muscle but the real party trick of this car is that it’s not hooligan, with power being easily managed. In all driving modes the vehicle adapts how power is delivered to the road though in in Sport+, all 295kW are unleashed. The all-wheel drive system does help to control the power but in this setting there is a slight liveliness to the car. Everything is more direct and at times the sudden surge of power can catch the unsuspecting driver off-guard.

On undulated roads and Comfort mode engaged, almost all the bumps are filtered through into the cabin. And the exhaust note, though deep and very mature, just does not exude the same visceral sound as the C43 AMG, for example. An AMG needs to sound loud and make its presence known, but the E43 AMG does not do that. It could be attributed to the fact that your average E-Class driver does not want that loud popping noise, so Mercedes can be forgiven on this one.



C-Class? Where?

In terms of a design, it's incredibly assertive on the road. It announces its arrival without screaming at the top of its lungs. Onlookers, whether pedestrians or other drivers, will engage with the car. From its huge grille, multi-spoke 20” wheels, to four large exhausts, it’s a really good looking vehicle. It AMG treatment mated to the E-Class' executive luxury, combine to create a car that  oozes performance appeal.

Quite contradictory, though, is the fact that the interior reminds quite a bit of a C-Class. Specifically, the C43 AMG. The centre console is shared with its smaller sibling and just does not have anything special about it to make you, as the driver/owner feel as if you are using the dials of one of Merc’s best vehicles. Sure, this can be to promote one-ness amongst its vehicles and upholding this theme across the 43 models, but the E-Class needs to be different.

The information displayed to the driver can be adjusted and set up to his/her liking. Best of all, it’s easy to navigate through the various settings thanks to the soft-touch steering wheel mounted controls.

Other features that are also fitted to the E43 AMG include lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, memory seats and seat warmers, automatic wipers, and an electronic boot. A downside, though, when you close the boot, is that it slams shut instead of closing elegantly. It really is not expected from a vehicle of this calibre and standard.



Summary

Mercedes-Benz took a gamble when they brought the 43 AMG derivates to market but it’s a range that manages to merge both the comfort of its standard models with the hardcore nature of V8 AMGs. And then it comes together in a car, like the E43, to gift it with what can be described as the best E-Class you can buy today.

Apart from a few interior gripes and the boot that announces its closure, this car is pretty much all you’d ever need from an E-Class. Sure, there can be no denying the imposing personality of V8-powered Mercedes-Benz, but this car brings sensibility to the fore.

As a family vehicle it offers more than enough comfort and as a machine to tackle that mountain pass on a Sunday morning with, it can do that as well. The E43 AMG does not suffer from middle child syndrome. In fact, it is the child that you are most likely to faff over most.

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