You know the C43 – it’s the link between a mainstream C-Class range dominated by 2.0-litre engines and the full-blooded V8 barnstormers built by AMG in Affalterbach.
The reason we’re driving it again is because for 2018 the entire C-Class range is being given a facelift. For the C43 that means greater power, some tweaks to the styling and a touch more flair within its overly sporting cabin, largely by way of a new digital instrument binnacle. These are subtle changes, mind.
The output of the 3.0-litre V6 increases only from 362bhp to 385bhp, thanks to larger turbochargers (mounted in traditional fashion outside, rather than within, the vee of the cylinders) that operate at higher boost pressure. Torque increases not a jot, remaining at a healthy 383lb ft, though it is now fed into the C43’s all-weather 4Matic driveline 500rpm later in the rev-range, at 2500rpm. It’s a recipe that has made this particular model something of a runaway sales success.
It also means the car’s 0-62mph acceleration figures remain unchanged, at 4.7sec for the saloon and coupé and 4.8sec for the estate, which is quick enough so long as you can forget the fact a C63 demolishes the same measure in 3.9sec. Meanwhile, combined fuel economy is rated at 30.4mpg for the saloon, which is enough for a range-nudging 450 miles.
Elsewhere, very little has changed other than the addition of two aerodynamically ‘optimised’ alloy wheel options of 19in and 20in in diameter. As such, the suspension retains a four-link design at the front axle and a multi-link rear, and features steering knuckles from the C63 along with AMG-derived elastokinematics designed to yield high camber stability at speed (spoiler alert: this has worked).
On the subject of suspension, the easiest way to tell a C43 from a C63 is the lack of grotesquely flared wheel arches, which leaves the junior car looking a little semi-skimmed by comparison. There are, however, new exhaust tips – four of them, circular and all the more old-school for it – and there’s also a styling pack for those who crave a more aggressive front splitter, rear spoiler and broader side skirts.
You might spend a moment or two tinkering with the new 12.3in display that now inhabits the instrument binnacle. Optional elsewhere in the facelifted C-Class range but standard on the C43, it gets an AMG-specific skin with some useful indicators (engine, gearbox oil temps) and other less pressing statistics (boost pressure, g-force and torque output in, er, bar-chart form).