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