What is it?
Well, when Mercedes-Benz actually announced the car, we didn’t really know where the C 43 would slot in considering the C 63 AMG S already exists and below it sits the CLA 45 AMG. While the rear wheel drive C 63 sits at the top with 500 plus bhp and a pricing upwards of one crore, the CLA 45 AMG was many a rungs lower and in its current ‘yet to be updated’ trim makes 355bhp with the power being transferred to all four wheels. Now, we have the C 43 that makes 362bhp and gets 4MATIC as well. Mercedes-Benz already has the most performance-oriented models in their Indian line-up and the C 43 just adds to it. While that’s one of the reasons we saw for its introduction, the other could be customer demanding a more powerful C-Class but not wanting to spend upwards of a crore for it.
On the outside, it’s easy to find out this isn’t your average corporate hauling C-Class. The front bumper gets an aggressive front apron along with a front splitter. The diamond pattern grille gets a discreet AMG badge, but the grille itself gives the front plenty of character along with those fantastic and shapely LED headlights.
On the side, the car gets five spoke 18-inch AMG wheels (which we’re not a fan of) and AMG brake calipers that give away the cars performance orientation. At the rear there’s no getting away from the fact that this is an AMG. Twin tailpipes along with diffuser fins clearly shout performance; made clearer once the engine is started. Overall, the AMG kit adds a lot of muscle, and not to mention, character to the otherwise subtle C-Class silhouette.
How is it on the inside?
While lot of the interior resembles that of the standard C-Class, being an AMG, the C 43 does get some sporty touches. The sports seats in Artico leather are fantastic and really keep you well in place even as you hustle the car from one corner to the other. These offer plenty of all-round support too. The flat bottomed steering wheel too is something you just want to grab the moment you slide in. Covered in nappa leather, it’s just the right size and offers a lovely feel.
There’s plenty of red stitching around that keeps highlighting the sporty intent and if that’s not enough, the red seatbelts definitely scream AMG. And, instead of the natural-wood finish, the C 43 gets open pore ash wood trim that looks both classy and unique. The 5.5-inch screen is retained from the standard C and the AMG menu now includes a Race Timer function, for those rare occasions when you do decide to hit a racetrack. Space wheel remains the same as the regular C-Class and so does the 480-litre boot making the C 43 AMG a fast and practical sedan.
How does it drive?
Now it might get an AMG badge, but it doesn’t get the snarling V8 that C 63 has. Instead, the C 43 comes with a 3-litre V6 with two turbos. The engine makes 362bhp and an impressive 520 Nm of torque. The only other cars that offer similar power are the CLA 45 AMG (355bhp and 450Nm) and the lovely Ford Mustang GT (395bhp and 515Nm). The C 43 also gets the 9G-tronic transmission that transfers the power to all the four wheels! Yes, the C 43 gets 4Matic unlike the rear wheel driven hooligan, the C 63 AMG.
It also gets five driving modes, which include Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+. The modes alter the engine, transmission, suspension and steering characteristics. Since we were on the race track, there was no point trying out the Eco and Comfort mode, so we stuck it straight to Sport + and gassed it. Mercedes claims a 0-100 kmph time of 4.7 seconds for the C 43, and after just one launch, we think it is pretty believable. The car has enough grunt to put a smile on your face and the sports exhaust system just adds to the drama with its sonorous tone. Yes, being an AMG the traditional backfire is part of the soundtrack as well. While the numbers are there, don’t expect the C 43 to scare you like its more domineering twin. The 43 is quick, but in a very linear sort of way. Maybe the vast expanse of the track just dumbed down the experience, but we think the C 43 will feel a lot quicker out in the real world. The gear shifts too are quick but do tend to disagree with you at times.
Where it keeps up easily with the bigger AMG is handling. The AMG Ride Control sports suspension setup along with all-wheel drive lends the C 43 with tenacious grip, and one really has to push hard for the car to lose any sort of composure. Of course, even if you do tend to break traction, the electronics reel it in. We can’t wait to test this car outside the track environment where we think it will be brilliant.
Why should I buy one?
The big question which we think we can answer better once we get put the car through its paces the CarWale way. But until then, look at the C 43 if you find the standard C-Class too slow or too sober. And, of course, the C 63 AMG S is out of your budget. At Rs. 74.35 lakh the AMG C 43 4MATIC is pretty much a handsome ticket into the AMG club. Yes, you don’t get monster horsepower, but it does come with all the bells and whistles that you expect from a fast, premium, German saloon.
Where does it fit in?
The C 43 has more competition from within the family rather than outside. BMW and Audi have nothing to offer in this price bracket with this kind of performance. The Ford Mustang at Rs. 65 lakh ex-Delhi is pretty much the C 43’s closest rival when it comes to price and performance. And once the 2017 CLA 45 AMG is launched, it will offer more performance at a similar price with a smaller engine. The C 43 then, has very little leverage to prove itself as an ideal fast family car with options above and below it. But will it manage to fight the odds and stand out? Time will tell.