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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

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