Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC on a highland mission

By JAY WONG | 2 August 2018

This isn’t the first encounter with the Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC at RM385,883 (OTR without GST and insurance) - albeit in coupe form.

Despite its 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 being the least potent against its AMG stablemates, it shouldn’t be sniffed at.

Not when the engine’s got 367hp and 520Nm that’s ever-eager for 0-100kph sprints in 4.7 seconds before getting limited to 250kph.

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This made the invitation a definite welcome to ‘spank’ the locally-assembled C 43, coated in a sexy sheen of black lustre, up and down Genting.

To mark the start of our 70km journey, we shipped out from Wisma Mercedes in Puchong and headed towards Crockfords Hotel in Genting.

While en route, it was kept in Eco-mode to help maintain some on-road decorum to enjoy the accommodating suspension, lazy throttle, silky gear changes and a non-intrusive exhaust note.

As experienced in the past, the C 43 can be quite addictive, which is why things were kept cool until the last 20km up-hill leg.

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From there, it would be nothing less than Sport+ mode with M(anual)-mode engaged. This stiffens up the suspension, hastens gear changes, overly-sensitises the throttle, frees up the engine and opens up the exhaust valve to let out the rumble.

Inside, the seating position was checked: shoulders positively against the backrest, elbows at almost 90-degrees, hands lightly clasping the leather-wrapped steering wheel at three and nine o’clock while the fingertips rested lightly against the paddle-shifters of the nine-speed automatic.

Flooring it up the first incline, the front cross-drilled and rear solid disc brakes bore the brunt of frustration due to traffic.

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It’d unfortunately be a continuously interrupted ascent, but there were instances that allowed for the C 43 to be pushed when things cleared up.

The tight uphill turn-ins are very well taken care of and its always accompanied by an assured sense of traction that makes it feel rather neutral in the hands.

Needless to say, there’s always plenty of power to spit the 1.8-tonne sedan out of the inclined corners with nary a hint of chassis flex and what seems to be a never-ending presence of power as it presses your body into the seat.

Following a slow lunch, the senses were twice as eager knowing it’d be a down-hill course and this time, the brakes were in for a lot more abuse.

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Here, the car becomes a ‘point-and-shoot’ vehicle - just point it in the direction and floor the accelerator before getting hard on the brakes for the turning in.

Drivers need to take note of what the engine sounds like once it reaches its 6,500rpm red-line limit.

Because of the steep nature of the down-hill section, the engine tends to rev faster than the speedometer can follow, especially in the first two gears, and inadvertently cause the engine-limiter to activate before the needle shows it.

The rigid chassis, combined with Sport+ mode, just makes the car far more communicative with a direct and sharp steering. In its entirety, the car almost feels race-like and there’s no doubt the C 43 is capable of getting its weight up to speed.

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The stopping power also requires commendation here. Mid-way down, the brake’s bite began to slightly taper off and this slight intrusion of brake-fade was all that was, right till the bottom.

Forget about having to deal with roll because there really isn’t much of it to begin with.

Instead, it’s going to be the directional forces that need to be handled by the driver (and any passengers).

A lot of throttle modulation is required in Sport+ mode when traversing down-hill, which makes the already over-sensitive throttle response, even more so.

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The automatic gearbox isn’t one of the quickest, but it does exude a sturdy nature about it when it feeds the ‘twist’ to the AWD system with much authority.

To simply put it, the combination of the C 43’s sharp steering, powerful twin-turbo V6 engine, impressive power delivery from its AWD system and the unadulterated exhaust note helps deliver a ‘race-like’ experience.

This puts the car well within the predatory list, after having mated a premium cabin synonymous with Mercedes-Benz in Stuttgart with the sporty accoutrements and performance characteristics accorded by AMG in Afalterbach.

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