It’s not slow: 0-62mph is cracked in 4.7sec and the twin turbos boost up smartly, making the throttle responsive. They add guts low down, so it feels almost as rapid accelerating from 2000rpm in the gears, as it does running through them. Be diligent on the upshifts, mind, for a couple of reasons. It’s pretty keen to rev, and the illusory redline tricks you into looking like a fool: it says 6500rpm but, bizarrely, you career in to the limiter at just 6000rpm.
The 9G-tronic ’box is smooth when shifting automatically, but go all out with the settings – Dynamic Select switched to Sport +; gearbox in manual mode – and it punches up the gears with a flick of the paddle. It’s more obtrusive going down the gears, refusing to downshift if the revs will breach 4000rpm once the change is executed.
Sport + mode does other things, of course. It weights the steering, but not overtly, so it still builds resistance progressively and gives you a good sense of what the front end is up to. And it pops open the valves in the switchable exhaust.
Now, noise is subjective so you may think differently, but for us, it doesn’t sound that great. Sure, you get contrived barks on upshifts and crackles on the way down, but the main theme is an amplified V6 buzz, rather than orchestral, multi-cylinder symphony. If anything, this is the C 43’s biggest flaw, compared with the joyful noise of its bigger-capacity C 63 brother.
Normally, you get into a car like this and soften the suspension so it can cope with our woeful roads, but not this one. Comfort mode, you see, is soft, but in the manner of a bouncy castle. Every movement off a bump or crest takes a while to settle, especially at the rear, and because there’s always another undulation to hit, effectively you’re in a state of constant oscillation.
Stick it in its firmest setting and all that secondary motion vanishes, transforming the drive. There’s enough absorbency left to keep things stable as you hit an imperfection, but with more viscosity in the dampers, the aftermath is kept to one bounce only. Lateral roll, as you fling the C 43 hard into corners, is minimal, too.
Despite its rearward bias, the four-wheel drive doesn’t offer any of the C 63’s playfulness. Roll off the throttle on the way in to bends, or hoof it out, and you can sense some movement at the rear but, ultimately, it wants to push on at the front. To compensate, it delivers tremendous traction, firing you off an apex whatever the weather.
And for many, that will be fine, so long as it can keep you comfortable covering big distances. It can, with little wind noise and bearable tyre drone on motorways, but again Sport +, surprisingly, delivers the best ride. You need to put up with some heavier jolts but, overall, it's better controlled so you're not constantly wobbled this way and that.
Inside it’s well equipped and just as fancy to sit in as the rest of the C-Class range. We’re still not convinced that the underlying quality is up to Mercedes’ legendary billing, but the fine mix of materials means that it’s dressed to impress. It's practical, too, with space for two adults in the rear and a sensibly sized boot.