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REVIEW: Mercedes-Benz’ potent C43 AMG

2017-12-28 12:49

Charlen Raymond

Image: Charlen Raymond

Cape Town - There are three nomenclatures the motoring world is very crazy about. BMW’s M, Audi’s RS, and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG.

Each of these famous automakers are known for producing cars carrying these respective badges and every car possess a certain amount of zest and intensity. But the problem - or nature, if you will - of these cars is that they are brutish and sometimes unruly to handle.

The power can be too much for some, the suspension too harsh perhaps, and the cars can be too intense, especially AMG!

These guys can make some real monsters! Fun monsters, might I add. And if you want an AMG you’d have to be prepared for something and you’d need your wits about you. Well, not anymore. Merc recently expanded the AMG line-up of a few of its model ranges by adding ‘43 AMG’ derivatives and the C-Class is one of the recipients.

Bold looks

An AMG was never designed to be tame, let alone look tame. This C43 AMG is no different. Built on the C-Class coupé’s architecture, the car is wider and lower than the standard vehicle it’s based on. At the front, the gaping honeycomb grille takes up most of the attention, but its function is to feed air into the engine.

As the car’s bodylines flow to the back, the rear will probably divide most of the opinions. Contrary to the muscular front, the rear seems to infuse a modern touch with Merc’s design for their coupés. Some may find this too soft for something that is an AMG, while others will find a liking to it. But perhaps the most enticing bit about the rear are those four exhaust tips.

From inside the cabin it may not sound as loud as one would expect - because of Mercedes’ impressive sound dampening - but from the outside it’s raucous and boisterous.

As is customary, the C43 AMG comes standard with already big 18” wheels, but bigger 19” wheels are available optionally. I bet that if you really want to stand out from the crowd, Merc will bend the rules and plaster your ride with 20” tyres! Because why not? It’s AMG, after all!

V6 AMG

Unlike the C63 AMG, the 43 is powered by a V6 engine as opposed to the V8 powering the former. And the displacement is smaller, too: 3.0-litres vs. 4.0-litres. And yes, power is down, as well. Heck, this car doesn’t even produce 300kW. In fact, it only has 270kW. Surely a C-Class from the AMG warehouse should not have less than 300kW. Right?!

That’s what I thought when going through the figures, but the reality is that the C43 AMG is far from an underpowered proposition. That engine, that 3.0-litre V6, features turbocharging and it manages to churn out 520Nm of torque. Dial the driving mode into Sport+ and allow this AMG to do its thing. It lunges forward, attacks with intensity, and involves the driver as the ride progresses.

Merc dots it down that this car will run the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.7 seconds, but that can be a bit of a challenge… This Merc, even though it is an AMG with a ludicrously fun character, does not have launch control. Yip, R935 000 and you don’t even have launch control.

Ai! Thankfully, with four-wheel drive, there is enough grip to get the car off the line and into the fun zone.

Irony of traction

On a test run with the C43 AMG the Mercedes showed what it was capable of when pushed. It gave enough steering feedback and the loud pedal reacted duly on throttle inputs. Push on the brakes and it bites with no fade. But - and there is always a but - one of the electronic nannies really made a nuisance of itself: traction control (TC).

Driving in and out of a dip with the road making a right sweep at the top, the TC imposed itself on the driving experience. Sure, it’s a safety feature, but perhaps it was just a tad overzealous. Maintaining a reasonable speed and the steering wheel turned slightly to the right, a rhythmic vibration jolted through the grippy steering wheel.

And then, suddenly, as I’m slowly straightening the steering, TC kicks in, locks the rear wheels for a brief moment, releases its hold on the wheels, and sends the car into a mild drift. Scary! Perhaps I should’ve disengaged TC, even partially, but as a safety precaution I opted to keep it engaged. Ironically, what was supposed to protect me had me giggling nervously for a fleeting second. Which felt like an eternity, by the way!


Is it worth it?

AMGs in general are noisy, shouty and unruly beasts to control. And in the grander scheme of things they are a tremendous amount of fun. Even when TC comes to say hello. And this C43, despite producing less than 300kW, is as much fun as you can have in an AMG. But now it’s an AMG that’s more manageable, more accessible, more… easier to live with.

I’d admit, a thunderous V8 would have been a lot more smile-evoking, but this V6 is a sweet alternative to the V8. And it’s a pretty impressive C-Class AMG.

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