Thanks to Mercedes-Benz Belgium AMG In Years had the opportunity to testdrive a C 43 AMG convertible. The cold weather wasn’t really the best condition to testdrive this C 43 AMG, but thanks to fourwheel drive and winter tyres, the car should be usable throughout the full year. With autojunior.be I had the opportunity last year to shortly drive a C 63 S AMG, therefore it would be interesting how the C 43 AMG compares to the well established 63 AMG monster.
Some would say that the 43 AMG models (or 450 Sport as they were initially named) are rather soft compared to the 63 AMG’s. However a car with 367 hp is difficult to label as soft as the performance of this C 43 AMG easily overpasses the performance of for example the C 32 AMG 203 C-Class generation (354 hp from a M112K 3,2 l V6 kompressor engine). Not convinced yet? Thanks to the 9G-TRONIC and the 520 Nm, the C 43 AMG convertible sprints in a dazzling 4,8 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h. Moreover, the way the C 43 AMG sprints to illegal speed is incredibly smooth and sometimes you only realize by taking a look at the speedometer.
“Multiple Man/Machine – One Engine principle”
What’s for sure is that the C 43 AMG M276 3 liter V6 engine isn’t made according to the well known AMG “One Man – One Engine” principle. However, in order to limit prices and as AMG wants to increase its sales, that decades-old principle isn’t combinable for these less powerful 43 AMG’s. At the start the 43 AMG models were named 450 with “AMG Sport” label, but the naming disappeared evenly fast as it was introduced. The vanishing of the name means that AMG definitely wants to consider the 43 AMG models as genuine AMG models even if the engine is not handmade. In the end it is more marketing talks, but more important is that AMG models become more achievable and a bit more subtle looking as well. As mentioned earlier, no need to look for a “handcrafted by” badge under the bonnet, but what you will find is a deep red motor cover which screams for attention.
The presscar from Mercedes-Benz Belgium was configured rather eye catchy thanks to the matte dark grey paint. Higly recommended to be honoust, but keep in mind that the matte paint is very sensitive to scratches and dirt.
AMG labels can be find on the boot and in the standard diamond grill, a “BITURBO 4MATIC” logo just after the front wheels is also reaveling the performance. However, no AMG logo on the key, neither on the steering wheel and neither on the seats. Though, there are AMG logos on the rpm display, on the door sills and on the brake calipers. Optionally customers can choose for AMG seats and another AMG labelled sports steer if you don’t want to be second to the C 63 AMG.
The two chrome tailpipes are specific for the 43 AMG models and as they are each separated by a centerpiece it creates a four-pipe look. The sound adjusts to the selected transmission mode of the 9 gear automated gearbox. When downshifting in transmission mode “S”, a double declutching function results in some great exhaust noise. In mode “S+” some misfire between gear changes adds even extra dB to the exhaust noise. Without any doubt AMG has one of the best exhaust sound composers in house. The sound from far away even reminds you somehow of a screaming Ferrari because it seems so loud in “S+” mode. Indeed, the engine and exhaust noise of the C 63 S AMG is still much more brutal. To put the experience in perspective, the C 63 S AMG sound was so impressive that after spending a day in the C 63 S I still heard the noise when lying in bed, which was not the case with the C 43 AMG. Optionally customers can choose for the AMG Performance exhaust system which allows the driver to change the sound characteristics thanks to a button next to the COMMAND controller. By this system three variable adjustable flaps in the exhausts are used to bring the noise to the next level. The testcar wasn’t equiped with the Performance exhaust, but no doubt that it brings the sound of the car a bit closer to the C 63 AMG.
As mentioned above, the gearbox is one of the most important pieces which contributes to the whole experience of this C 43 AMG. With nine gears it has a large ratio range which allows to limit the fuel consumption in Comfort and Eco driving mode. In these two modes it is anyhow remarkable how quickly the gearbox shifts to ninth gear. With the sailing function in Eco mode the engine and gearbox go into neutral and the C-Class keeps on rolling when you release the gas pedal. Notwithstanding, even in Eco mode, without any doubt the gearbox drops 2 gears to go from 2.000 rpm to 4.000 rpm if you slightly push the gas pedal to overpass someone. Including the “eco” sound … This means that the gearbox is able to skip multiple gears to support fast sprints. After a long weekend with quite some variation in the travelled route and spending quite some time in “S+” mode, we ended up with an average of just 10,0 liter per 100 km. On a traject from Ostend to Brussels it was possible to keep the fuel consumption at 8,5 l per 100 km. Deducting a surplus factor of 0,5 l for the winter tyres, we reckon that the theoretical fuel consumption of 8,4 l per 100 km is not out of reach.
“AMG Performance 4MATIC”
In recent years AMG has made the shift to more models with all-wheel drive, but still with a clear focus on distributing more torque to the rear tyres. For the C 43 AMG the engine torque is steered to the rear axle for 69%. With the all-wheel drive, AMG wants to increase overall tracking and improve driving conditions in bad weather conditions. In practice the grip levels are indeed very impressive and as a big portion of AMG owners don’t have a need to drift, we are only in favor of this decision.
The suspension feels rather tough which makes this C 43 AMG not the most comfortable C-Class. Certainly in “S+” mode and our Belgian roads doesn’t help neither. Off course the focus of this C 43 AMG is not on comfort and as the driving is just spot on, you easily forgive the less prominent comfort. The suspension can be manually adjusted to Comfort, Sport and Sport + and triggers different damping characteristics.
The secret for the perfect handling lays mainly in a four-link front axle and an independent multi-link rear suspension. The AMG kinematics result in a very high camber stability during the cornering. Even though the very precise linear steering (ratio 14,2 : 1) which perfectly fits with the AMG suspension, you still have the impression that as driver you are positioned to far away from the front wheels to have the perfect driving experience. Despite the room for improvement, the steering of the C 43 AMG is much harsher than other recent Mercedes’s and I can only cheer that as it feels very communicative.
The interior is dominated by the red leather seats and by the middle console finished in glass fiber which not only looks fantastic but is also a refreshment compared to the traditional black plastic which can be found regularly in other Mercedes’s. Only a pity that you don’t feel the structure when you touch it, like the carbon finish which is also possible. The best description for the backseats is cosy, but the headroom is rather much above average. Furthermore, in the doors you do have surprisingly lots of space to put bottles of water etc. The view backwards is poor, mainly due to the headrests who cannot be put down as they are acting as roll bar. This makes the optional blind spot assist a must. Anyhow, the interior of the C-Class remains one of the most enjoyable and pleasent interiors that you can find in a car these days.
The weather conditions didn’t allow to fully test the cabrio skills of the C, but the well-known AIRSCARF makes the driving conditions more acceptable for those who are addicted to driving topless (please don’t get me wrong). The top of the C can be ordered in four colors (grey, black, red and blue) and is rather well isolated. Although driving close to other cars or trucks at higher speeds leads to unpleasant noises entering the interior. The boot is a bit of a joke, and even a box of beers (just a reference, nothing more …) is difficult to enter in the boot as the opening is extremely narrow. Closing the boot also requires some fingerspitzengefühl to excess the right closing force.
With great reluctance I returned the C 43 AMG back after spending a great weekend with this brave convertible. The C 43 AMG may not have that raw edge of its hp-stronger brothers, but for daily usage the C 43 AMG is more than enough and better value for money in some sense as well. The C 43 AMG relies on rather conventional technology and in practice you would only need two driving modes: Eco for long highway trajects and Sport+ for everything else. In the end, the performance of the C 43 AMG is so overwhelming that those who want to choose for the C 63 or C 63 S are a bit crazy, but we like craziness. The 63 models may have some extra factor of excitement, but please realize that you neighbours will be thankful if you’re choosing the 43 AMG as you won’t wake them up in the morning when driving off. And by the way, the C-Class convertible is a perfect match and certainly one of the best cabriolets of this moment.
Technical specifications, pricing & options:
|Car||Mercedes-AMG C 43 AMG A205|
|Engine||M276 3,0 l V6|
|Horsepower||367 hp between 5.500 and 6.000 rpm|
|Torque||520 Nm between 2.000 and 4.200 rpm|
|Compression ratio||10,5 : 1|
|Brake discs||Front: 360 x 36 mm, Back: 320 x 24 mm|
|Emission class||EURO 6|
|Average fuel consumption (NEDC)||8,4 l / 100 km|
|Average fuel consumption (test drive)||10,0 l / 100 km|
|Carbon footprint||194 g CO2 per km|
|0 - 100 km/h||4,8 s|
|Boot||285 l (open) - 360 l (closed)|
|Price (standard)||€ 71.027 (Belgium, 21% VAT)|
|Price testcar||€ 90.934,60 (Belgium, 21% VAT)|
|Most important options testcar||- Designo grey magno paint: € 2.396
- Cranberry red leather: € 1.742
- AIRSCARF: € 557
- AIRCAP: € 835
- COMMAND Online: € 3.570
- Burmester Suround System: € 938
- Distronic Plus € 1.168
- Head-up-Display: € 1.198
- LED ILS: € 708
- Middle console in glass fiber: € 1.089
|Other options (including 21% VAT)||- AMG Performance Seats: € 2.360
- AMG Performance Exhaust System: € 1.452
- AMG Performace Steer: € 666
- AMG Carbon Exterior: € 2.118
Special thanks to Mercedes-Benz Belgium!