385bhp may not sound a whole lot for a car that proudly wears the AMG badge, but it’s the ease with which the power can be extracted that makes it fun. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe looks absolutely stunning!
AMG! When you see this badge next to a Mercedes-Benz insignia, you know that the car puts performance above all else. But with the ‘43’ suffix comes a different promise – a promise to deliver that performance in a more civilised and more accessible manner. Does the new Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe stay true to this promise? We spent some time behind the wheel to find out.
Mercedes had the previous C43 on sale in India too, but it was only available in sedan form. This is the first time that the three-pointed star has brought a ‘C’ in coupe form. Of course, it does trade practicality for a more desirable design – but it’s a trade-off that most would happily make.
We just love the way the swooping roofline blends into the boot – it’s absolutely stunning! The sharp shoulder line that continues on to the wide rear haunches is another one of our favourite design details. And then there are the obvious AMG bits – the edgy front bumper, the side skirts, the rear spoiler and the quad exhaust pipes, all of which make it different from both the regular C and the full-blown C63.
The interior of the C43 is all about technology and sportiness. It comes fitted with a large display for the infotainment system, which is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Additionally, it also displays the drive modes and other car settings. Unlike most of the newer Mercs though, it misses out on a digital instrument cluster. Driving the C43 at night is a tremendously stress-free affair – full credit goes to the multi-beam LED headlamps that can project up to 640 metres.
From the Alcantara upholstery, sports seats and flat bottom steering wheel to the contrasting red seat belts – everything in the interior adds to the sporty appeal of the C43. The only thing that feels out of place is the wood finish on the centre console. Some carbon fibre, or even the matte silver glass fibre, would’ve looked a lot better – both of which you can tick in the options column. While, for the most part, the ergonomics are sorted, we don’t quite like the rocker switches for the air-con, as they require you to look away from the road.
A special mention must be made about the front seats. They offer great comfort and do a good job of keeping you snug into the seat. Being a two-door coupe, the space at the back is nothing to write home about, and getting in and out seems like performing an impossible yoga position. But, then, this car isn’t about the rear-seat experience anyway.
Fast? You bet
As the ‘43’ rightly suggests, it’s not as maniacal as we’ve known full-blown AMGs to be. Unlike the 63’s 4.0-litre V8, the C43 conceals a 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 under the hood. The 385bhp motor can take it from a standstill to 100km/h in just above 4 seconds. The C43 is not only a properly quick car but also an equally friendly one.
Go hard on the loud pedal, and it’ll push you back in the seat – but it remains unflustered. And therein lies the beauty of the C43. It makes going fast a walk in the park. Even with the eagerness of the motor, and the way it picks up speed, you always feel properly in control.
The nine-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly, but can feel a bit jerky sometimes. But, of course, it has paddles for when you want to shift yourself. And you’ll want to hold the revs as much as possible, because the exhaust emits a sweet growl.
For a car built for performance, you’d expect the C43 to attack the twisties with enormous confidence. And it doesn’t disappoint. Aided by the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, it offers good grip and feels extremely agile. Turn-ins are precise too – in fact, it’s among the few Mercs that has a really nicely set up steering.
While the handling is impressive, driving on less than perfect roads will lead to some bit of anxiety. You see, the stiffly sprung suspension, even in the Comfort mode, makes for a firm ride at all times. And that’s the only downside for what otherwise has the makings of a fun, everyday car. That said, it’s a compromise I’ll willingly make for the AMG badge
To C or not to C?
I love the new direction Mercedes has taken with these AMGs. They’ve spotted the need for an accessible sporty offering and capitalised on it with the 43 range. The C43 does almost everything right. You don’t quite need to hit the race track to fully enjoy it. It has just the kind of power that you need to enjoy some twisties without soiling your pants.
It has the handling to suit the performance, and the technology and features that you’d expect from an AMG. In fact, it’s a performance-focused offering that could work well as a daily driver too. But, while we are quite enchanted by its coupe styling, we do miss the practicality of the old C43 sedan!
- Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe
Engine: 2,996cc / V6 / Twin-Turbo
Power: 385bhp @ 6,100rpm
Torque: 520Nm @ 2,500-5,000rpm
Transmission: 9-Speed Automatic / All-Wheel Drive
Price: ₹ 75 lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-Factor: Non-hostile, usable and entertaining – the C43 has all of this packaged in a chic coupe body.