Benz boosts C Class sports models
Mercedes-AMG has launched a major upgrade to its C 43 and C 63 sports models to align with that of the standard Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
While the new models have been rather modestly described as a face lift, with around half of its 13,000 parts replaced, it is certainly significant.
As with the C 200, C220d and C 300, the AMG C 43 and C 63 come in four body styles: sedan, wagon, coupe and cabriolet with prices from $107,900 for a C 43 sedan to $182,900 for a C 63 S Cabriolet.
Dealer and government charges, included luxury car tax on all models, need to be added.
The external face lift of the C 43 includes a new twin-louvre mattsilver AMG grille, new sculpted front and rear aprons, multibeam LED headlights and 19-inch AMG alloy wheels that, interestingly, are optimised to improve the car’s aerodynamics.
Inside there’s a new generation AMG flat-bottom steering wheel design with Nappa leather trim and integrated touchpads to control the instrument cluster, infotainment system and drive modes. The dashboard is now fully digital.
Rear headroom in the C 43 sedan that we drove may prove marginal for tall passengers because of the sunroof, which fortunately doesn’t restrict front headroom to any great extent.
Legroom in the back is reasonable, although some compromising may be necessary at times.
The Mercedes-AMG C 43 is powered by a 3.0-litre direct-injection bi-turbo petrol engine with outputs of 287kW and 520Nm.
It’s mated to the AMG Speedshift TCT nine-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels with torque distribution of 30 per cent front and 70 per cent rear.
The C 63 S, which is due to arrive here in January has a 4.0-litre V8 direct-injection bi-turbo petrol that peaks at 375kW and 700Nm.
More on that AMG range topper when it gets here.
In addition to the standard safety features across the C-Class range (nine airbags; enhanced ABS brakes; blind spot assist; tyre pressure warning; and pre-safe crash anticipatory system) the AMG C 43 gets a driving assistance package plus that includes active distance assist; active brake assist with cross-traffic function; evasive steering assist; active blind spot assist; active lane keeping assist and pre-safe plus.
There is also a 360-degree camera, a sports braking system with perforated front brake discs and an anti-theft alarm with tow-away protection and an interior surveillance system.
The standard Night Package uses the multibeam led headlights to calculate the precise lighting conditions required and includes ultra range high beam which can illuminate the road ahead to a distance of 650m.
Our launch test drive was during daylight hours only but we’re looking forward to taking the C 43 for doing some night driving when we get the car for our normal extended test.
The Mercedes Comand infotainment system uses a 10.25-inch media display that can be customised to three themes.
The definition on the media screen is sharp and clear. It’s not a touchscreen but is managed either by a Comand rotary dial on the centre console or through the steering wheel controls.
There is also a 12.3-inch digital instrument display behind the steering wheel that can be customised with three colours and styles.
It can be controlled via the steering wheel rollers and buttons.
The media system allows access to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The quality of sound from the Burmester surround-sound audio system is impressive.
There is also DAB+ digital radio. Entry and exit is relatively easy for a fairly low-slung car and the front sports seats support very well without being overly aggressive in their bolsters. Steering wheel adjustment is also powered.
Both front seats have a memory function that also adjusts the side mirrors to suit the driver.
We drove a C 43 estate wagon from Melbourne to the far north of Victoria.
There’s a wonderful crackling exhaust note sound at take-off which is piped inside through a sound enhancer, such is the efficiency of the insulation.
Driving high-performance cars on Australian roads can be extremely frustrating, with our speed limits meaning we can rarely drive them in the manner for which they were designed.
The Mercedes-AMG C 43 is a superb sports machine.
Not that it seems to stop local enthusiasts who are the biggest buyers of AMG models in the world when taken as a percentage of all Mercedes-Benz sales.
We appreciated the car’s head-up display, which showed both the car’s current speed and the speed limit using either satellite navigation or, in the case of a number of road work sections, traffic sign assist that uses a windscreenmounted camera to pick up the 40km/h speed limit signs.
The car’s Dynamic Select drive system has four modes, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Slippery which vary the steering, engine response and gear shifts according to conditions and driver preference.
We found the steering in Comfort mode lighter than we prefer so we spent most of our time with the sharper feel of Sport, with the occasional foray into Sport+.
The AMG Speedshift nine-speed automatic transmission lives up to its name, with multiple downshifts delivering fast short bursts of power.
The pretend double-declutch function in the Sport and Sport+ modes adds even more to the driving experience.
The Mercedes-AMG C 43 is a superb sports machine that combines elegant styling, four-door convenience, high quality cruising ability and serious performance credentials.
It is well worth adding to your short list of performance street cars.
The new flat-bottom steering wheel and fully digital dashboard.
Entry and exit is relatively easy for a fairly low-slung car.