First drive in new Mercedes C 200 and AMG C 43

By JAY WONG | 14 November 2018

Luxembourg happens to be well-known for its fortified medieval town perched on sheer cliffs, a little Notre-Dame Cathedral and some of its restaurants commonly serving horse meat as a main dish to its residents who happen to be fluent in French, German and the native tongue of Luxembourgish of course.

This writer wasn’t keen on consuming the likes of Black Beauty, Seabiscuit, Hidalgo or any relatives of theirs.
As a motoring writer on location to test-drive the new facelifted Mercedes-Benz (W205) C 200 and Mercedes-AMG C 43, horsepower is preferred anytime over horse meat.

It was a wet and cold early morning as I walked to the carpark located next to the Luxembourg Airport. One hand clutched the C 43’s key fob and the other a hot cup of coffee, while juggling a backpack, jacket and a cabin-sized rollie.

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The AMG C 43 Cabriolet.
The AMG C 43 Cabriolet.

Finally, after a good 10 minutes of searching, I found the cabriolet backed up against the fence with its sheet metal painted in Eileen Gray and sporting a red fabric roof - all ready to drop its top once the clouds parted. But alas, the sun never did peek through, but the top came down nonetheless.

Cramming what little belongings I had into the boot, the media group headed off on a 150km journey that would have us cross into Germany and meet at the Seezeitlodge Hotel & Spa resort as we followed the GPS instruction on the new 10.25-inch widescreen display.

Most who are familiar with the C 43 would notice its new twin-louvre front grille, LED headlights, new bumper with front splitter and air-curtains, aerodynamically optimised wheels and double-rounded exhaust tips.
We were told the rear boot and diffuser are now made of lightweight carbon fibre.

The AMG C 43 Bariolet engine.
The AMG C 43 Cabriolet engine.

Putting it through its paces, I couldn’t help but notice a slight improvement in the V6 engine’s throttle response, which made it seem a little more willing to charge up the dial. Other than that, it felt almost the same as the one we tested back in Malaysia.

Sure, it sees a few changes inside and out, but in terms of actually feeling the difference in performance, there wasn’t much to brag about.

The C 43 now gets a new steering wheel with touch control and wrapped in a combination of leather and Dinamica as well as a fully digital instrument cluster.

The engine apparently has been optimised and now gets a bigger turbocharger, adding 23hp and raising output to 390hp. Torque remained at 520Nm.

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The AMG C 43 Cabriolet sports 19-inch wheels.

With a nine-speed automatic, it now allows the 4MATIC all-wheel driven C 43 to sprint from 0 to 100kph in under 5.0 seconds.

The Cabrio still felt surefooted and “uber” sporty despite being a slightly more heftier than its stablemates and the steering still felt sharp for that dart-like performance.

The suspension has a wonderfully sporty character about it that’s willing to take on anything that’s being thrown at it and it won’t hesitate to translate it back to the driver.

Put it in normal mode and, like its predecessor, it’ll provide much compliance.

But due to its brutish power ratings, it’s hard to imagine that its owner won’t be tempted to gun the throttle at a moment’s notice.

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At our destination, we were later handed the C 200 with its 1.5-litre (1,497cc) turbocharged engine producing 184hp and 280Nm of torque that comes together with a belt-driven starter alternator for its EQ Boost 48-volt system.

Additionally, its new electronics architecture allows for an extension of its multimedia features, a fully-digital instrument display with three display styles and the current driving assistance packages with functions adopted from the flagship S-Class.

To up its appeal, the new C-Class has a new lightweight body design that is a combination of steel, aluminium and plastic components.

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Out on German country roads, this sedan performed admirably with its plush seats that have plenty of bolstering.

The light and easy steering-feel and the comfort-oriented suspension soaked up road imperfections well.
Inside, the cabin’s natural touches of wood accents and leather upholstery has been paired with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 10.25-inch centre display (Classic, Sport and Progressive designs), LED cabin lights and an Audio 20 GPS infotainment system with reverse camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Additionally, the C 200 came with a host of safety equipment that included seven airbags, active brake assist, autonomous emergency braking, PRE-SAFE positioning for front seats, active parking assist, cruise control with Speedtronic speed limiter, adaptive brake lights, and a newly added Blind Spot Assist that functions from 10kph to 200kph.

Stomping on the throttle, the engine responded instantly. There’s nothing abrupt about it as the engine consistently pulls through the rev-band to reach 100kph in 7.7 seconds to reach a top speed of 239kph.

The brakes have a beefy response and gearshifts were hardly noticeable.

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The digital instrument panel of the new C-Class can be customised.

The next day, I drove the C 200 back to the airport and had a chance to gauge its autobahn-performance. The car wafts its occupants up to speed, but there’s a lack of road feel for the driver.

While travelling at over 150kph, the car just doesn’t seem to enjoy undulations much, lacking that planted feel with the emergence of some wallowing. Cut the speed to around 100kph, and this car will start to be in its element.

Throwing it around corners, there’s some degree of roll and the driver may have to play the guessing game when interpreting what the tyres are doing.

By the time we reached the airport for the flight home, it was obvious the C 200 belongs in an urban setting.
This surprisingly breaks away from that usual assumption that German cars prefer high-speed extra-urban commutes. Not really in this case.

Here, the C 200, with its compact dimensions, luxury and comfort levels associated with the three-pointed star, as well as its added safety equipment and improved efficiency seemed more skewed towards running about in an urban environment.

Refreshed Mercedes-Benz C Class (W205) arrives, prices start from RM260K
Refreshed Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupes swing in, EQ Boost for C 200


Mercedes-Benz C 200

Engine: 1.497cc (M264) turbocharged 4-cylinder
Maximum power: 184hp from 5,800 to 6,100rpm
Maximum torque: 280Nm from 3,000 to 4,000rpm
Transmission: 9-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic
Acceleration (0-100kph): 7.7 seconds
Top speed: 239kph

Mercedes-AMG C 43 / Coupe /
Cabriolet 4MATIC

Engine: 2,996cc twin-turbo (M276) V6
Maximum power: 390hp at 6,100rpm.
Maximum torque: 580Nm from 2,500 to 5,000rpm
Transmission: 9-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic
Acceleration (0-100kph): 4.7 seconds
Top speed: 250kph

Features: Airbags, anti-lock braking system, electronic stability control, Active Blind Spot Assist, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 10.25-inch centre display, steering wheel touch control, centre console touchpad, start/stop button, active brake assist, active parking assist, cruise control, adaptive brake lights, Blind Spot Assist, reverse camera.