What is it?
The C 43 is the latest ‘43’-badged Mercedes-AMG, a new semi-skimmed model to sit below the full-fat ‘63’ models with their thunderous V8s. Not that any ‘43’ is particularly weedy, certainly not with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 under the bonnet.
Those with long memories may recall that this isn’t the first time AMG has offered a C 43; back in the 1990s it was the pinnacle of the C-Class range thanks to a 4.3-litre V8 engine. The new model may be down on cubic capacity, but it’s certainly not lacking power or performance.The combination of 4Matic all-wheel drive, a nine-speed automatic gearbox and the 362bhp motor provides a sub-five-second 0-62mph time, even in dog-friendly estate guise. Let’s see how it performs on UK soil.
What's it like?
The C 43 may play second fiddle to the C 63, but it’s still plenty quick enough. Lean on the throttle and - after a brief pause to let boost build - the AMG launches up the road. Overtaking is a breeze and it doesn’t make a bad sound either. It may be a bit flatulent on start up, but the further up the rev-range you go, the more it howls.
Thanks to the two turbochargers, it has plenty of low-down torque and is happy cruising along at around 1500rpm, although the nine-speed auto ’box is quick to change down a few ratios if you give it more than a tickle on the throttle. In most situations it’s a smooth transmission, although the changes become a lot more forceful in Sport Plus mode. Manual mode for the gearbox happily means manual mode, too, which we discovered after violently smacking into the rev limiter.
Those expecting the usual hairy-chested, sideways-everywhere AMG-experience may need to look elsewhere. The addition of the 4Matic system means the C 43 finds plenty of traction. Yes, the tail can be persuaded to follow a different path to the front of the car, but the all-wheel-drive set-up pulls everything back into line quickly and effectively.
While the C 43’s on-throttle balance is enjoyable, the rest of the handling experience is less so. It might get adaptive dampers as standard, but there isn’t one setting that truly suits UK roads. Left in Comfort, the C 43 gets flustered by crests and compressions, to the point where it feels like the dampers aren’t actually doing anything. Try and go over a speed bump at anything over a crawl, and it’ll bobble down the road.