WHAT IS IT?
An updated version of AMG’s entry-level C-Class, now with more power from its V6 engine and lots of small, but important, changes inside and out.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
As much as we like the V8 brawn of AMG’s hugely exciting C63, its blinkered thrill-seeking isn’t easy to live with every day. The C43, however, has dialled back the extroversion to a more liveable level. The question is, has AMG been able to restrain itself for this update, or is this more powerful C43 too focused for its own good?
Audi S4/S5, BMW 340i/440i
THE WHEELS REVIEW
WE ALL have that one hyperactive mate with no off switch, right? In vehicular terms, that mate is a Mercedes-AMG C63. While they’re great for a laugh most of the time, there are days when they (and the C63) need to be hosed down.
Luckily, Affalterbach offers an alternative called the Mercedes-AMG C43. It’s a fast C-Class that’s more suitable for everyday use, with a level of performance that can be explored and enjoyed without regular visits to a racetrack.
For 2019, the C43 has been updated as part of the most comprehensive C-Class facelift to date. The 3.0-litre V6 found in all four C43 shapes (sedan, wagon, coupe and cabriolet) is now fed more boost by larger turbos taken from the E43, lifting its peak power from 270 to 287kW. Torque remains the same at 520Nm, as does its sharp 0-100km/h performance of less than 5.0sec for all body styles.
A bi-modal performance exhaust is now available as an individual option for $2300 and as part of a $5400 package that also adds performance seats and microfibre trim for the new AMG steering wheel. The V6 opens up into a throaty growl as it revs, with loud cracks on upshift and a burbling overrun when in the sportier drive modes, without fully reaching the C63’s level of V8 boisterousness.
The C43’s other major point of difference is its all-wheel-drive system, which is fixed to send 61 percent of torque to the rear and 39 to the front, whereas the C63 is rear-drive only. Grip is in ready supply, and the C43 feels resolutely composed on a fast road.
Subtle adjustments have been made by AMG to the tune of the C43’s adaptive suspension, though the car’s overall feel isn’t dramatically altered. The difference in ride quality between its Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes is noticeable, but less pronounced than the step changes of the adaptive suspension now available in regular C-Class models. At its softest the C43 retains some of its AMG attitude and agility, but its comfort is generally acceptable for a sporting car.
To make it easier to identify, the C43 now has a distinctive twin-louvre grille that’s specific to AMG’s 43-badged models and 19-inch wheels with a unique, aerodynamically optimised design. Multibeam LED headlights with a range of up to 650 metres are standard, as is AMG’s Night package, which blacks-out exterior design elements. A re-profiled front bumper includes aero aids at each corner that guide air around the wheels for efficiency. New LED taillights are also fitted.
Interior improvements include a range of infotainment and driver assistance upgrades, though Benz’s advanced MBUX interface hasn’t made its way to C-Class as yet. The instrument cluster is now a 12.3-inch digital screen with a customisable AMG mode, supported by a second large display above the centre console. Safety technology is extensive, with all active systems included as standard, including a 360-degree camera, AEB, adaptive cruise control, parking assist, evasive steering assist and traffic-jam assist.
Pricing starts at $107,900 for the sedan through to $124,900 for the cabrio, making C43 a full $50K and change more affordable than an equivalent C63. It’s an appealing proposition; closer to being compatible with Australia’s speed limits, while still plenty fast enough to put a grin on your face. The C43’s grown-up brand of performance was already a discerning choice, now made more compelling for 2019.
THE WHEELS VERDICT
Updates to the AMG C43 for 2019 keep the performance halfway house feeling fresh. A mild power bump of 17kW is good for bragging rights, but more useful are the technology gains inside, including up-to-date safety and a classy digital instrument display. It’s a good-looking and likeable package with enough performance to bring excitement on a fast road without the need for a racetrack.
PLUS: Strong engine performance and traction, more distinctive styling than before
MINUS: Comfort ride could be plusher; misses out on state of the art MBUX infotainment
Model: 2019 Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe
Engine: 2996cc V6, dohc, 24v, turbo
Max power: 287kW @ 6100rpm
Max torque: 520Nm @ 2500-5000rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 9.4L/100km
On sale: Now