This C 43 is the little brother to the more potent C 63 / C 63 S, and it puts its cross-hairs on enthusiasts seeking performance from something that bears the "three-pointed star" and isn’t going to break the bank ... much.
This coupe is not as potent as its higher-end AMG brethren's - in fact it's actually 'entry-level', and it's got 'gobs' of usable performance that most average drivers will need acclimatising to before they graduate up to higher performance levels.
After having lived with it for almost a week, I had to hand back the car with a heavy heart and a touch of relief that I’d actually survived a week without on-road mishaps.
You see, the C 43 is capable of going from docile to menacing in a blink of the eye, thanks to that punchy 2,996cc twin-turbo V6 providing the 367hp at 5,500rpm and 520Nm of torque from 2,000rpm onwards, while a nine-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission dictates power-delivery to the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system.
Depending on a person’s driving experience, this 1,690kg (kerb) car can be quite a handful to deal with. For those more experienced, they will relish in the fun-factor from a car that’s able to take them from 0 to 100kph in 4.7 and onwards to an electronically limited top speed of 250kph.
With such performance, the coupe naturally needs to look the part with some added accessories that will try to thumb down the C-Class’ already elegant curves and creases located along its lower and upper flanks.
Also, a body kit has been added and comprises a slightly different front bumper, AMG-badged diamond grille with chrome pins, black wing-mirror caps, side-skirts, rear bumper with integrated faux diffusers, quad pipes for the AMG performance exhaust system and a boot spoiler.
To add a little more mystery to the coupe’s looks is the inclusion of the Night Package, which means gloss black accents have been added to the front splitter, window trim, rear diffuser and tailpipe finishers.
The coupe’s 3.0-litre V6 cranks out 362hp from 5,500 to 6,000 rpm and 520Nm of torque from 2,000 to 4,200rpm,
Turbo lag is almost non-existent. Although it’s not as potent as its V8 brethren, it still has the means to snap the human body into the seat and hold you there as you floor the throttle for a 0-100kph sprint in 4.7 seconds. Top speed is rated at 250kph.
The coupe will putter along quietly in city traffic. Other than the coupe’s styling, there’s little indication of added performance when the car is idling. But dial it to Sport+ mode and the exhaust starts to sound a little noisier.
The already-stiff suspension stiffens-up even more for a rather harsh ride. The steering feel also gets heftier and the engine more rev-happy.
Cars like these are meant to be driven spiritedly. So forget about fuel economy, because this coupe is all about rolling out the power to meet the driver's whims and fancies.
The cabin is crafted to look sporty in keeping with the car's mission in life but it's still underlined by a cockpit layout that is recognisable as indicated in the lower end of the C-Class scale.
It features a combination of smooth Artico faux leather with red stitchings and grippy Dinamica microfibre complemented by a meaty flat-bottomed steering wheel with paddle-shifters.
The blacked-out cabin’s stiff seats help relay road vibes to the driver.
The seats at the rear will take two adults but it won't be quite as comfortable as in a regular C-Class sedan.
A coupe at this performance level shouldn’t have much practicality to begin with, but Mercedes-Benz has done a good enough job to inject some space into the car.
The driver and front passenger will have no problem getting in and out of the car but rear passengers will have some difficulty doing the same.
The boot isn’t too large either but there’s enough depth to keep a few pieces of luggage.
Ride & handling
It has to be said. In any selected driving mode, the coupe isn't going to be a comfortable experience.
The suspension is too harsh for my liking. Set to Comfort mode and you will notice how hard it works to smoothen out the edges of potholes and uneven surfaces.
While dealing with the g-force under heavy acceleration, new owners of this coupe can easily get drunk on its level of performance - much like consuming half a bottle of gin within a split-second. It's addictive.
Enter Sport or Sport+ mode and things get even wilder. The suspension and steering stiffens up, the throttle gets overly excited to get the engine revving and the gear changes become direct and crude towards red-line - rather unbecoming of a luxury car, but it is after all a performance tuned one at that.
This is the point where the money matters because in all honesty, it's a what most track-experienced drivers who have enough 'coin' to seek out this sort of car.
In the dry, the front end feels scalpel-like with plenty of grip to make the rear-end seem so subservient to it, while its wet performance makes it seem a little edgy and nervous about putting down all its 'twist' onto the road.
Be wary when getting into the tight confines of parking facilities. The C 43 just doesn't have enough steering angle usually accorded by front or rear-wheel driven vehicles and will be a challenge when space is limited.
- Seven airbags
- Anti-lock braking system
- Electronic brake-force distribution
- Electronic stability programme
- Collision prevention assist plus
- Hill Start Assist
- Front automatic adaptive LED Projectors with High Beam Assist
- Rear LED light cluster
- LED daytime running lights
- 19-inch wheels (front: 225/40) (rear:255/35)
- Cross drilled front brakes
- AMG ride control (adaptive dampers)
- Power-adjustable from sports seats
- Rear air vents
- Ambient Lights (3 colours)
- COMAND Online with Touchpad
- 8.4-inch display
- 13-speaker 590-watt Burmester surround sound system
- Auto start/stop
- Cruise control
- Paddle shifters
- Keyless entry with push-start button
- Automatic wipers
- Automatic parking
- Reverse camera with 360-degree view
- Powered tailgate with handsfree operation
- Electric parking brake
- Full Leather Dinamica microfibre with Artico leather
Mercedes-Benz offers a two-year manufacturer warranty and a two-year in-country extended warranty, a mirror image to the manufacturer warranty with unlimited mileage coverage.
The comprehensive coverage keeps cost of ownership under control. You only need to pay for cost of the vehicle maintenance as well as wear and tear items. Such costs vary as vehicle maintenance, wear and tear items charges are subject to individual driving behaviour.
At RM548,888 (including GST without insurance), the coupe costs RM49,000-more than the four-door at RM499,888 and, like all Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG vehicles, they come with a four-year unlimited-mileage warranty (2 years Malaysia + 2 years Germany).
The C 43 isn't meant for the faint-of-hearts even though it is less powerful than the C 63. It could still be a challenge for less experienced drivers to deal with, but at least they won't scare themselves away from learning its road-going limits.
As fun as it can be, having this as an everyday car is liveable, but not preferable in my books.
After all, it is a performance car that requires more concentration than usual and the hardened suspension can add more stress to the business of driving.
But then again, tapping that throttle and leaving an imprint in the seat can be a form of stress-relief - so long as the owner is capable of handling it.
In short, it is important for those less experienced to graduate from the C 43 before even thinking about heading towards the C 63.
Assuming I could afford the C 43 it in the first place, I could see myself indulging in it over the weekends - as a sort of "reward" for surviving the week.
This way I'll never tire of it and it'll always remain the powerful "wheeled" love of my life.
CarSifu drove the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S, too