Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 Coupe Review
Mercedes has given its two-door performance C-Class models an extensive update and, for thrill-seekers out there, the big news is there’s more power.
- Head-turning good looks with performance to match
- It has a soundtrack to wake the neighbours
- Beautifully styled interior with lots of top kit
- Quite expensive to buy
- Not as ferocious as C63 AMG
- Space in the back is limited due to coupe styling
The C-Class line-up comprises Coupe, Cabriolet and Estate body styles and they all underwent quite an upgrade last year. Amongst the improvements are more efficient petrol and diesel engines along with a power hike.
There are a number of visible changes too with the latest facelift Coupe boasting a more aggressive appearance with bags of AMG styling.
The AMG C43 is a midway model in that it offers much more than the standard C-Class coupe, but is not quite so fearsome as the mighty C63.
Factor in one of the most upmarket cabins on offer and this Mercedes seems to tick all the right boxes.
On the Road
AMG is the performance arm of Mercedes so it will come as little surprise to learn that the AMG C43 4MATIC Coupe is bubbling over with power. The 3.0-litre V6 biturbo petrol engine now delivers 390hp - an increase of 23hp - along with 520Nm of torque and that translates into some pretty impressive performance stats. It can power its way from 0-62mph in a very rapid 4.7 seconds and tops out at an electronically limited 155mph.
The acceleration through the nine-speed automatic gearbox is perfectly timed and has been specifically designed and tuned for very short shifts for quick-fire bursts of pace.
There are drive modes called Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and individual that are available via the Dynamic Select system. These alter the responses of the engine, transmission, suspension and steering. And if you press M for manual (another new feature) you get to control the gear changes via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
There is also a new Slippery setting identified by a snowflake which is best suited for icy or snow-covered roads.
The AMG C43 4MATIC Coupe is an accomplished all-rounder. It delivers edge-of-the-seat firepower and driving dynamics but also combines this with excellent comfort levels. It feels composed and quite grown up, but when pushed hard out on the quiet country lanes, it still has plenty of youthful appeal.
The AMG C43 4MATIC Coupe is beautifully balanced and can be driven with confidence on any road. It is easy to manoeuvre in busy town centres and cruises effortlessly at maximum motorway speeds - it is so smooth that 70mph feels like 30mph. Then when unleashed on more testing B roads, the car is up for any challenge. Switch into the Sport+ mode and everything sharpens up and the road holding is confident and assured.
The 4MATIC four-wheel-drive features rear-biased torque distribution with a front/rear split axle of 31 to 69 per cent. It sounds complicated, but what that means is enhanced driving dynamics and improved traction while accelerating.
Another feature standard on this model is the adaptive adjustable damping. The fully automatic and electronically-controlled system adjusts the damping at each wheel to suit the current driving situation i.e. road surface, driving style and suspension setting. This not only improves driving safety but also ride comfort levels.
While the Sport modes are great fun, most owners will remain in Comfort for the bulk of their journeys and the car excels in this setting. Even riding on 19-inch wheels, our test car was cushioned and there was absolutely no sign of any body sway into tight corners.
Despite all the grunt, speed and muscular styling, the AMG C43 4MATIC Coupe is a very comfortable place to be. It oozes elegance inside and out and Mercedes has left no stone unturned when striving to develop exceptional levels of passenger comfort.
From a design viewpoint, the car looks bold and imposing with the AMG radiator grille, AMG front apron and distinctive air intakes, four tailpipes, a panoramic electric glass sunroof and privacy glass.
The interior is feature-rich and packed with technology. It has an elegant and sophisticated layout with soft-touch surfaces, Saddle brown leather upholstery, open-pore grey oak trim and lots more besides.
Once you shut the doors to the car, you feel very protected and insulated from the outside world. In Comfort mode, the AMG C43 4MATIC Coupe can be nicely calmed and go about its business in a very civilised manner.
Switch across to Sport+ and the engine and exhaust soundtrack adjusts accordingly. Be warned, bystanders will here you coming long before you turn the corner.
The highly effective suspension does an excellent job of smoothing out all but the harshest of road surfaces.
In the car
Powered seats complete with memory settings and a fully power-adjustable steering wheel mean getting comfy inside the AMG C43 4MATIC Coupe is a simple process. The seats can be heated and they offer ample support for longer journeys. Visibility is good apart from the narrow rear window which is common in coupe models.
There is a wealth of onboard technology at your disposal and navigating the many systems is simple enough. There is a touchpad and controller, steering wheel controls, or voice entry and these various approaches have been designed to simply operations on the move.
There is a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster with displays that alter from Classic to Sport or Supersport and, via the AMG menu, the driver can access all sorts of geeky facts such as the G-Force and power data. But realistically, more traditional readouts such as speed, rev counter, navigation instructions, music lists and phone contacts are more likely to be the display choice most of the time.
The car also features the latest generation of AMG flat-bottomed steering wheels with a heavily contoured rim which is the perfect match for this sporty car. The Touch Control buttons on the wheel are new and can be used to control the instrument cluster and multimedia system by swiping the finger vertically or horizontally - it’s easy to use after a couple of minutes and means you can operate many functions while keeping your hands on the wheel.
Our car featured a Premium Plus Package as a £4,995 option and this introduced a Burmeister surround sound system, COMAND online system, ambient lighting, the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, multi-beam LED intelligent light system, wireless charging, Keyless go and a panoramic sunroof. Another option was the head-up display adding a further £720 to the price.
Being a coupe, the space in the rear of the two-door AMG C43 4MATIC is not that great. There is enough room for a couple of adults to travel in the back provided the front seats are not pushed back too far, but they would be desperate to swap places with anyone up front at the earliest opportunity.
In addition, the sloping roof design of the car would mean anyone taller than six foot would find their head brushing against the roof lining.
The boot is power-operated and it has a 400-litre capacity. And there are numerous other storage options scattered throughout the car, including a lockable glovebox, front and rear cup holders, door pockets and a practical central cubby beneath the front armrest.
The dynamic styling of the car means you do sit quite low to the ground which could prove problematic for anyone with any mobility issues.
Getting down to the nitty gritty, the AMG C43 4MATIC is not exactly cheap, but it is very competitively priced against its closest rivals. As with most premium cars the cost of options can easily start to stack up and before you know it there’s an additional £10k been heaped on the asking price. Our test car started life costing £52,290 but a raft of add-ons saw the final total at £62,995. And we could still have added more.
The running costs will very much depend on the way the car is driven, but the official combined fuel figure is 29.7mpg. After a week behind the wheel, we were seeing around the 23.5mpg mark.
The carbon emissions figure of 217g/km would result in a first-year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £1,280 dropping down to £145 the following year. But there are more charges to consider because under the recent restructuring of the tax system, owners of cars with a list price above £40,000 pay a £310 supplement for five years. After five years, the vehicle is taxed at the applicable standard rate.
The insurance group rating for the test car is 45.
Mercedes has an impressive reputation for developing reliable cars that survive the test of time and the AMG C43 4MATIC should certainly follow that trend.
The upholstery looks very upmarket but also feels well-structured and the whole cabin with its flashy instrumentation and switchgear looks like it will still be just as appealing after several thousand miles have been clocked up.
There are soft-touch surfaces and the open-pore grey oak trim can easily be wiped clean of any mucky fingerprints. On the downside, there are some hard plastic surfaces that may be prone to scratching but only time will tell.
Because the infotainment screen is accessed via the touchpad, controller or voice command, there are no messy smudges there either.
The car comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, plus four years’ Mercedes Mobile Roadside assistance across Europe.
When the AMG C43 4MATIC was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating in 2014, it was awarded the maximum five stars and lots of extra kit has been introduced since then.
An optional Driving assistance package was added to the test car at a cost of £1,695 and this introduced Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Braking Assist with cross traffic function and tailback emergency braking, Active Distance assist DISTRONIC with Active Steering Assist and Active Speed Limit Assist, Lane Change Assist and Active Lane Keeping, Evasive Steering assist and Pre-Safe Plus.
This pack was on top of an already comprehensive list of safety features and driver aids.
And the car also features 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive to keep you on the move in more severe or challenging driving conditions.