NOW NATURALISED RESIDENTS OF PEKAN, AMG’S LOCALLY ASSEMBLED C43 AND GLC43 TAKE US ON A JOYRIDE UP GENTING AND BACK
Going from one MercedesBenz event to another within days, it’s easy to forget the German marque is headquartered in Stuttgart and not in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia seems to be a special place for the three-pointed star after all. We were one of the first countries outside Germany to assemble the S-Class. On the track, there’s something patriotic about seeing
Petronas’s colours lining the Silver Arrows of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. And then there’s the fact we now have a pair of CKD AMGs.
In launching the locally assembled versions of the Mercedes-AMG C43 and GLC43 4Matic, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) put us on the map as one of only two countries (the other being Thailand) to assemble AMG models outside Germany. These models may not feature the famed V8 engines hand-built in Affalterbach, but that’s not a reason to take the three hallowed letters lightly.
The idea of locally assembled AMGs stems from MBM’s desire to plug all niches in this market, so Mark Raine, sales and marketing vice president of MBM, tells us.
“We want to cover the whole market. We have the most diverse and extensive product portfolio with 53 different variants of 23 models. We’ve done plugin hybrids with our EQ brand launch, but we also want to cover the performance segment. Otherwise you’ve got to two legs to stand on but you’re only standing on one,” he said.
The AMG portfolio itself is already extensive, with the compact 45-numbered models already developing a cult following here while the 63s continue to lead the brand. AMG’s current poster child, the AMG GT, is also part of the catalogue.
Yet, we’ve always had a soft spot for the C43, as documented in our review of the fully imported coupe late last year. Shying away from the C63’s vulgar take on spirited driving, the C43 is easily the
better everyday sportscar thanks to its charismatic twin-turbo V6 that knows when to purr and propel on demand. It remains one of the most memorable cars we’ve driven in recent times. So it was a no-brainer when MBM dropped us an invitation to have a go at the locally assembled C43 and GLC43 up Genting Highlands and back.
The C43 saloon edged the coupe to a spot in Pekan’s assembly line for obvious reasons. It’s the cheaper of the two in the showroom, and the practicality of two extra doors is bound to draw more buyers. Local assembly and the annulment of GST knocked a full RM114k off its sticker price. More importantly, none of the car’s signature performance and German quality has been compromised by localisation.
In the CKD C43 AMG, none of the 367 horses in the three-litre stable seems to have been hurt while fit and finish is top notch. If anything, the saloon seemed a bit quieter than the coupe that we thoroughly enjoyed last year. It’s a bummer because the twin-turbo V6 plays such a pure, intoxicating soundtrack. But that didn’t stop us from having a cracking drive up to the casinos, with the 4Matic AWD system aiding our overzealous approach into some of the uphill hairpins.
Our only gripe about the C43 is that its sports suspension is easily rattled by the occasional patch of rumble strips and road humps. Stay away from them and you’ll find the ride surprisingly pleasant by sports saloon standards.
The GLC43 we drove on the reverse leg didn’t have that problem as it was propped up by Mercedes’s Air Body Control dampers that imbue the SUV with the ride qualities of Aladdin’s magic carpet (we think). Despite being the taller and heavier car of the two, there’s no discernible lack of haste from behind the flat-bottomed AMG steering wheel, making it all the more impressive. But it’s also the costlier of the CKD duo at RM442k while this tax break lasts, which is still rather enticing.
“When we launched these models as CBUs, the decision was already taken to locally produce them,” said Raine when asked how MBM’s initiative to localise AMG assembly came about. It’s an example of great foresight in a market that’s showing a greater appetite for highperformance vehicles.
Ultimately, it’s all for the benefit of the enthusiasts among us and the carmaker that identified their hunger in the first place. This is motoring done right. DARYL LOY
Raine (left) with Mercedes-AMG brand ambassador, Nabil Jeffri, who recently finished fourth in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
They're not the most visually striking AMGs, but the C43 and GLC43 certainly boast the performancebefitting the badge