AMG’s more accessible E-Class model arrives in Oz, ready to span the great divide between the high-tech E400 and the utterly bonkers E63.
WHAT IS IT?
While we wait for the ballistic E63 to lob in local dealerships, the Mercedes-AMG E43 is the one and only AMG E-Class available here. It attempts to strike the middle ground between the top of the regular E-Class range, and the stratospheric performance of the looming E63 flagship.
WHY WE’RE DRIVING IT
Local sales of AMGs are through the roof, and this is our first chance in Oz to experience the E43’s balancing act of power and prestige, following our first drive on its native blacktop in Germany.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
AMG has broadened its horizons and produced an admirably capable sports sedan that favours performance without compromising the inherent elegance and comfort of its base model. The E43 is equally at home on a brisk back-road blast as it is serving as a luxurious everyday tool.
PLUS: Accessible performance, flexibility, front-end accuracy, maturity
MINUS: Will always be seen as ‘AMG-lite’, cabin sensitive to jarring road surfaces
THE WHEELS REVIEW
AUSSIES bloody love an AMG and the latest to hit our shores is the Mercedes-AMG E43. It’s the first fighter from Affalterbach to arrive Down Under based on the technologically masterful W213 E-Class, and will eventually straddle the wide open crevasse between relatively vanilla non-AMG E-Class models and the utterly unhinged E63 due here later in the year.
In both price and performance the $159,900 E43 is a closer relative of the mainstream E400, and has been subject to some criticism for using the latter’s 3.0-litre V6, sourced from Mercedes-Benz, albeit with bigger turbochargers slotted into the ‘bay to lift performance by 50kW and 40Nm to totals of 295kW and 520Nm.
Staking a case for ‘real’ AMG status are AMG calibrations for the ECU, air suspension, nine-speed gearbox and 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, which give the E43 a more singular focus. It stops short of the rip-snorting aggression found in the equally priced C63, and that’s a deliberate point of difference rather than a weakness.
Dialled up to its most fierce the E43 is a fast car, capable of dispatching the sprint to 100km/h in 4.6 seconds. All-paw grip makes it almost as quick as much more powerful equipment like the HSV GTS. Its bi-modal sports exhaust opens up to let out more of the V6 note in Sport and Sport Plus modes, though it never reaches the same levels of snap, crackle and pop as the attention-seeking A45 and V8-powered AMGs. The E43’s pitch is more mature than those cars.
Set to Comfort, the E43 slackens into a flexible cruiser. Its AMG-specific suspension tune is firmer than the E400’s, erring on the sporty side of things even at its most relaxed without ever becoming too harsh or uncomfortable. Only badly jutted surfaces and raised lane markers disturb the E-Class plushness by sending sharp thuds through the body of the car. Across most roads it strikes the right balance and feels as though it could soak up endless kilometres.
Steering, too, is effortless. A re-engineered front-end from AMG incorporates new components that transmit a more direct steering feel. Sharp initial turn-in is confidence inspiring, as is the E43’s stopping power. Front and rear brakes have been upgraded with larger, perforated rotors.
From the outside an AMG front grille, rear lip spoiler and a unique 20-inch wheel and tyre package subtly distinguish the E43 from a normal E-Class. Similarly restrained upgrades inside include sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel that give the already class-leading interior just enough AMG flair. A tyre pressure monitoring system is the only other equipment change above the highly specced E400.
The E43 channels understated AMG sports sedans of old. It’s a fast, classy and thoroughly liveable four-door. The AMG experience can be dialled up on a whim through its multiple drive mode personalities and it does what it set out to do, which is plug a gap in the E-Class line-up as an AMG with road-going purpose rather than racetrack focus.
Model: Mercedes-AMG E43
Engine: 2996cc V6 turbo
Max power: 295kW @ 6100rpm
Max torque: 520Nm @ 2500-5000rpm
Transmission: 9-speed auto
Kerb weight: 1765kg
Fuel economy: 8.4L/100km
0-100km/h: 4.6sec (claimed)
On sale: Now