It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.
And so it was with a gentle skepticism we learned of Mercedes-AMG’s new C43 – the all-wheel drive, 270kW twin-turbo V6 baby brother (AMG would tell you) of the mega V8 C63.
Yet not too many moons ago this upstart sibling was called a C450 AMG Sport. In a recent upgrade to its auto transmission, from seven to nine speeds, Mercedes also thought it’d upgrade the name. Hmm.
Of course, it’s not uncommon for car manufacturers to try to get as much value out of their performance brands as possible. Car Company A cooks up something with a bit of spice, attaches the badges of its go-fast division and then adjusts the price accordingly – only for punters to find it’s the motoring equivalent of a korma when they were hoping for a blistering vindaloo.
We’re not suggesting these are Mercedes’ shenanigans with its new line of 43-badged AMG products (there’s also an E43, SLC43, GLE43 and GLC43 – phew!). It’s just that, prior to driving the C43 we desperately hoped it had the go-fast ability as promised by the badges.
Because if it did, a ‘baby V6 C63’ – for $50K less – would be a mighty attractive offer and enough to make BMW and Audi squirm with the 340i and S4, particularly given the strength of the AMG brand in Oz.
So... is the C43 a proper AMG, or a tepid pretender with an identity crisis? We’ve got six months to find out.
A glance over the specs certainly gets one nodding. With 270kW and 520Nm from its 3.0-litre ‘biturbo’ V6, the C43’s outputs almost identically match those of last decade’s C55 AMG (back when a Benz badge actually related to engine capacity).
At $101,900 the sedan is the cheapest of the C43 quartet, the Estate $104,400, Coupe $105,615 and Cabrio $119,900. All come loaded to the hilt with standard equipment.
On paper, though, one thing especially jumps out and that’s the ‘4MATIC’ all-wheel drive. The C43 sedan comes with a permanent 33/67 front-to-rear split. No doubt helpful in hitting that 4.7sec claimed 0-100km/h time, but there’s something about this particular all-wheel drive system that, from the outset, and in an AMG sports sedan, feels a bit too sensible. If rear-drive was deemed suitable for the 375kW Merc C63, why not the 270kW C43?
Though its 0-100km/h time wouldn’t be as impressive, imagining the C43 with rear-drive and a limited slip diff almost doubles the amount of salivation. Of course, many customers will appreciate the security of all-wheel drive, and many might even be attracted by it, but it seems to us all-wheel drive in an AMG sedan should be some desperate last resort for when the rear bags simply can’t take any more, a la E63 S.
Yes, there’s a rear bias – on paper – but how does it translate to the real world? We will find out next month, where we start to get a proper taste of the C43. Please may it burn our mouths off.
Plenty of AMG-ness going on
Metal interior trims scalding in summer
Opening the taps for the first time. Jesus, it’s loud.
Claimed combined consumption: 8.2L/100km
Starting kilometres: 1055km
Duration: 6 months