As amg cel­e­brates its golden an­niver­sary, re­naldi hu­ta­soit gets to test drive the new­est mem­bers of the com­pany’s lineup

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Re­naldi Hu­ta­soit gets to test-drive the new­est mem­bers of the AMG’s sports car lineup.

Back in 1967, former MercedesBenz en­gi­neers Han­sWerner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher founded AMG, an en­gi­neer­ing firm spe­cial­iz­ing in en­hanc­ing the per­for­mance of Mercedes-Benz cars. The let­ters “AMG” stand for Aufrecht, Melcher and Großas­pach (Aufrecht’s birth town). Mercedes-Benz and AMG be­came suc­cess­ful racing part­ners since the 1960s while also of­fer­ing per­for­mance en­hance­ments for con­sumer-bought cars, in­clud­ing light­weight wheels, aero­dy­namic body kits, sus­pen­sion pack­ages and en­gine up­grades.

In 1986, AMG re­leased their first sedan, the Mercedes-Benz W124 E-class based “Ham­mer,” which was faster than the supercars of the time. Daim­ler-Benz AG took a con­trol­ling in­ter­est in 1999, then be­came the sole owner of AMG in 2005. Mercedes-AMG GmbH is now a wholly owned sub­sidiary of Daim­ler AG. AMG fo­cuses on the brand’s prom­ise of “Driv­ing Per­for­mance,” which un­der­lines its po­si­tion as a highly suc­cess­ful sports car and per­for­mance brand. This year, the Af­fal­ter­bach, Ger­many­based com­pany fa­mous for its “one man, one en­gine” phi­los­o­phy cel­e­brates its 50th year.

New Fam­ily mem­bers

To cel­e­brate AMG’s golden an­niver­sary, Mercedes-Benz In­done­sia in­vited me to rep­re­sent DAMAN for a test drive of the new­est ad­di­tion to the AMG fam­ily: the MercedesAMG 43 Se­ries. This brand new range is com­prised of the prac­ti­cal Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC four-door sa­loon, the sporty Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe 4MATIC, the Mercedes-AMG C 43 Cabri­o­let 4MATIC, the two-seater con­vert­ible Mercedes-AMG SLC 43, the go-any­where Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC and fi­nally, the sporty MercedesAMG GLC 43 Coupe 4MATIC.

All of the Mercedes-AMG 43 Se­ries cars share many com­mon traits. First and fore­most, they are all pow­ered by a 2996cc V6 biturbo en­gine, pro­duc­ing 367 horse­power and 520Nm torque. The en­gine is pow­er­ful with loads of torque down in the lower RPM range, but I did feel that the pull at the top 25-per­cent range was a bit flat, as if Mercedes in­ten­tion­ally lim­its

“It Is quite clear to me that the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence Is tai­lored to the driver pro­file of each car”

the power out­put. Mean­while, there is good news for all the tur­bocharged cars: I did not feel any turbo lag in any of the 43 Se­ries cars. The 9-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion (yes, 9 speed!), which is an­other fea­ture com­mon to all mod­els in the 43 Se­ries, must have some­thing to con­trib­ute here. The 9G-Tronic trans­mis­sion is very quick to re­sponse in au­to­matic mode as well as when the pad­dle shifters are used to shift gears man­u­ally. I was over­joyed to learn that Mercedes-Benz al­lows the trans­mis­sion to re­main in gear when man­ual mode se­lected, even when the en­gine hits the rev lim­iter. That is hard­core sports car stuff.

Of course, as these are AMG cars, the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is just as im­por­tant as the driv­e­train. On this front, the 43 Se­ries cars come equipped with the AMG Ride Con­trol sports sus­pen­sion that can be set to three damp­ing lev­els: Com­fort, Sport and Sport Plus. Eas­ily se­lected via a switch at the cen­ter con­sole, each damp­ing level pro­vides a truly dif­fer­ent set of char­ac­ter­is­tics in the way the car corners or soak up bumps. This sys­tem is part of the Dy­namic Select driv­ing pro­gram, with op­tions rang­ing from Eco to Sport Plus. In the sportier pro­grams, the steer­ing power as­sis­tance is also reduced to aid in con­trol and give off a sportier feel. Also, in the most hard­core Sport Plus pro­gram, the en­gine and ex­haust note is tai­lored to pro­vide an even sportier ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Mercedes-AMG 43 Se­ries is en­dowed with a pow­er­ful and torquey en­gine. To ac­cess all the power and de­liver it to the pave­ment, Mercedes-Benz blesses all AMG 43 Se­ries cars with the AMG Per­for­mance 4MATIC all­wheel drive sys­tem (ex­cept the SLC43 road­ster which re­mains rear wheel-driven). AMG’s ver­sion of the 4MATIC has a rear-bi­ased torque dis­tri­bu­tion of 31 per­cent to the front axle to 69 per­cent for the rear axle. This al­lows en­hanced driv­ing dy­nam­ics, higher lat­eral ac­cel­er­a­tion on the road and im­proved trac­tion when ac­cel­er­at­ing. While some driv­ers would ar­gue that the all-wheel drive would di­lute the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, the ma­jor­ity of AMG own­ers who drive their cars on the street at 80 per­cent of their lim­its, the AMG Per­for­mance 4MATIC is a plus point. It in­creases sense of grip, which in turn boosts driver’s con­fi­dence, and ul­ti­mately pro­vides higher lev­els of driv­ing en­joy­ment on the streets.

Fi­nal Thoughts

Mercedes-Benz clearly has its cus­tomers in mind when de­sign­ing the AMG 43 cars. This be­came clearly ev­i­dent when I drove the dif­fer­ent cars back to back. It was not like driv­ing the same car over and over again only in dif­fer­ent color schemes. In­stead, it is quite clear to me that the driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is tai­lored to the driver pro­file of each re­spec­tive car. For ex­am­ple, the AMG C43 4MATIC sa­loon corners dif­fer­ently from the AMG C43 Coupe 4MATIC. While the sportier coupe feels live­lier when cor­ner­ing (great for lap times), the more con­ser­va­tive sa­loon shape felt more planted and sta­ble. At the other end of the spec­trum, the AMG GLC43 4MATIC sport util­ity ve­hi­cle felt even more sta­ble than the sa­loon. It needs to be for safety rea­sons, be­cause of its higher cen­ter of grav­ity. I was more than sur­prised to learn this medium-size SUV was that sta­ble when driven fast through Sepang’s fa­mous 12th and 13th turns. As such, I would have felt very con­fi­dent driv­ing the AMG GLC43 4MATIC on moun­tain roads.

As for my fi­nal verdict: I found that the Mercedes-AMG 43 Se­ries strikes the right balance be­tween per­for­mance and daily driv­abil­ity. For street per­for­mance, they are way more than fast enough, han­dles with con­fi­dence and should make for the per­fect danc­ing part­ner for ex­pe­ri­enced non-racer driv­ers. Re­mem­ber, just be­cause you dance Salsa ev­ery other Friday does not mean that you would en­joy go­ing toe to toe with a cham­pi­onship Salsa dancer. More likely, you would be step­ping on her toes. The Mercedes-AMG 43 se­ries is not the ideal op­tion for track days or racing, but no car meant for the streets is, no mat­ter what the ad­verts say. For my streets though, the Mercedes AMG C43 Coupe 4MATIC is per­fec­tion.

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