Mercedes-Benz C43 Coupe

Recently, we took out the Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe and it reminded us once again just how meaningful a soulful car can be to drive. AMG is of course Mercedes’ special high performance sports luxury development arm. While the topline C63 AMG we drove before is faster and more brutal, the C43 is lighter on its feet and has a comfortable composed setup, more suited to restricted roads in Melbourne, without compromising dynamism and precision. The very fact that the car produces a natural and enthusiastic soundtrack makes it all the more delightful to pilot, regardless how fast you are going.

Mercedes-Benz C43

The C43 Coupe sits in the same playpen as lesser Audi S5 Coupe, BMW M2 and Jaguar F-Type Coupe models, but don't be fooled. The C43 Coupe's potent new AMG 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbocharged petrol engine is mated to a 9-speed fast shifting 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission and 4MATIC all-wheel drive, with AMG-specific torque distribution of 33% front vs 67% rear wheels. This gives breathtaking traction, making a wickedly nimble very entertaining car.

At first glance characteristic AMG body styling and the special AMG badge on front wings leave no doubt this model is part of the Mercedes-AMG family. Twin-spoked, gloss painted 19-inch rims fill wheel arches, and hidden behind the rims are 360 x 35mm ventilated discs up front and 320 x 24mm ones behind.

AMG design elements are as below:

Instrument cluster with two tube-shaped dials, 14-cm colour display, 280 km/h scale Chequered Flag design, 3-spoke multifunction black nappa leather sports steering wheel, Sports seats, AMG upholstery design, brushed stainless steel sports pedals with rubber studs, light-alloy wheels, special axles, RIDE CONTROL sports suspension, speed-sensitive two stage sports power steering, Sports braking system, with larger discs, front discs perforated, Dynamic Select transmission modes, Ride Control sports suspension with adaptive damping three stage system, sports exhaust system with two chrome-plated twin tailpipe tips.

The cabin is as luxurious as expected , also decidedly sporty, with loads of standard features such as panoramic glass sliding sunroof, premium Burmester surround sound system, sat-nav, head-up display and 360-degree parking camera. Seats feature electrical adjusters with three memory settings, lined with red double stitched trim and matching red seat belts. Seat comfort is good and supportive.

The pleasant engine note is never overly mental like the wilder C63, but has enough snarls and grunts.

Comfort mode is mostly like any C Class Coupe, like a better handling everyday drive. Sport modes' trick suspension stiffens up leaving about enough play to soak up most road undulations, in most cases offering a satisfying ride without the roll on bends from a softer setup.

Sport+ mode is more unforgiving. Throttle response is extremely sensitive to right foot inputs. Taking off from lights requires extreme sure footedness. Lightly feathering off the pedal could easily send the car into a series of jerks. But on the run, Sport+ provides quite excellent handling, twists and turns met with point and shoot accuracy, although slight steering comes somewhere mid-corner, it is deadly accurate.

Overall, road communication via the electro-mechanical steering is very good. The 4-wheel drive keeps the C43 within very safe parameters, ensuring the job gets done without the waggly tail tendencies of a rear-wheel-drive car.

The 3.0-litre V6 turbo petrol all-wheel-drive is very obliging with full 520Nm torque at low 2,000rpm, on tap on all the way to 4,200rpm. I believe the engine can actually spin harder for more spread-per-gear, but is capped at 6,500rpm for longevity.

The nine-speed 9G-TRONIC transmission's gear changes are quick, and 9 ratios also mean very low cruising speeds revs. In “Manual” mode, the transmission instantly reacts to my inputs and engages me in the driving experience. Taking the C43 into corners with paddle shifters activated, finds plenty of torque on tap and very appropriate gearing. Finding the right ratio takes a while getting used to, but once on the move, the satisfaction from dropping, entering and exiting on the right band is extremely addictive!

So, what makes a car great? For some it is one which can do everything, whilst remaining civilised. The C43's 4-wheel-drive gives me the confidence to plant the car into very tight corners and be able to power out without too much opposite correction. This is an all-round well performing compact car with great handling from the 4-wheel-drive, precise steering, good engine and exhaust sound, and then of course you have the Mercedes-Benz interior quality.
  • Engine: AMG 3.0-litre V6 biturbo petrol engine
  • Power: 270kW at 5,500rpm
  • Torque: 520Nm at 1,200-4,000rpm
  • Transmission: 9-speed automatic all-wheel-drive
  • Consumption: 8.2Litres/100km
  • Tank: 66 litres
  • Safety rating: 5-star ANCAP
  • Price: From $105,615 plus on-road costs
  • Warranty: 3-years/Unlimited