Test Drive Review: Is the new C 43 AMG more than just a facelift?

Test Drive Review: Is the new C 43 AMG more than just a facelift?

The C 43 AMG takes pride of place

Mercedes-AMG’s 43 range has been a masterstroke, a sweet spot between the thunderous V8s and the regular 4-cylinders. The marriage of big speeds with a far greater level of usability and comfort, not to mention rather good pricing, is the reason why Mercedes keeps on adding to its network of AMG Performance Centres in India, outselling the combined sportscar line-up of its rivals put together.

It was in the C-Class that the 43 AMG was first introduced and it’s the C 43 AMG that takes pride of place among the updated C-Class line-up being introduced in Luxembourg. To be honest this is a mild mid-life facelift and the visual updates are limited to new headlamps, new bumpers and more aerodynamic wheel designs while at the rear there’s a new graphic for the taillamp and a more purposeful diffuser flanked by quad tailpipes. It’s all subtle tweaks and it is only at the rear where C 43 AMG now looks more purposeful – you can also spec carbon bits for the wing mirrors and boot spoiler while there is a black pack adding, err, more black bits to the bodywork.

385 horses pull the C 43 AMG to 100kmph in 4.7 seconds

Under the hood the 3-litre twin-turbo V6 gets larger turbos and a higher boost pressure delivering a bump in power, 362bhp to 385bhp, while the 520Nm of max twist now comes in 500rpm later at 2500rpm. Weight remains unchanged and so the unchanged 0-100kmph time of 4.7 seconds seems curious. Of course, this is plenty quick and the minute we crossed into Germany from Luxembourg and saw the de-restricted Autobhan signs the pedal went straight to the floor.

The optional sports exhaust hardens sounds meaty

This effect is pronounced especially in Sport + mode, infusing the cabin with meaty tones while popping and crackling on the overrun. It’s not as bombastic as the C63 AMG but it is more acceptable on a daily basis. Top speed is limited to 250kmph but the C 43 AMG effortlessly went up to 264kmph before we had to slow down for an uncharacteristically poorly driven GTI. But the thing is the C 43 AMG can get up to 250kmph with consummate ease and making the performance so easy and effortless is the all-wheel-drive powertrain that retains its 31:69 torque split front to rear. It tries to give the C43 a more rear-biased nature but truth be told it is not playful and you rarely, if ever, can kick the tail out.

“Throw it into a bend at far too high a speed and she holds on with tenacity. Boot it injudiciously, way before the apex for instance, and you don’t skip a beat”

Off the Autobhan and through the twisties of the Mosel wine growing region of Germany the C 43 displayed impeccable poise and massive grip. Make mid-corner corrections and she stays unruffled. Throw it into a bend at far too high a speed and she holds on with tenacity. Boot it injudiciously, way before the apex for instance, and you don’t skip a beat. As a beautifully quick cross-country toll the C 43 is extraordinarily good. The half-way house character of the C 43 is highlighted by the steering that doesn’t weigh up unnecessarily even in the sportiest setting and, crucially, the adaptive suspension that retains a very acceptable degree of compliance while in the firmest setting – the precise things that make this AMG so well suited to India. And, of course, the price that won’t move from the current 77 lakh rupees.

As for the regular C-Class

Mercedes-Benz claim 6500 parts are changed on the updated C-Class, and apart from the bumpers and lighting the most visible in inside the cabin where the traditional dials are replaced by a 12.3-inch digital display from the S- and E-Class while the steering wheel too is borrowed from the S-Class with the cruise control functions now on the ‘’wheel and not on that traditionally-Merc stalk on the steering column. The speedo display has three customisable themes  (Classic, Sport and Progressive) while on the AMG you can call up an additional Supersport theme that has a massive tachometer in the centre flanked by the speedo on the left and a g-force meter on the right. The display also flashes red to indicate it’s time for an upshift or the revs are too high to indulge the downshift you’re asking for.

The other big update is an all-new 48-volt architecture paired to new engines

I sampled the C300 that gets a new 254bhp four-cylinder turbo-petrol motor that, honestly, impressed me even more than the C 43, delivering astonishingly quick acceleration (5.7 seconds to 100kmph) and a nice sporty exhaust note. The 48-volt system is paired to a belt-driven starter generator which acts, kind of, like a mild hybrid system recuperating energy under braking and storing it in the new 48-volt battery (positioned in the place as the regular battery, while the regular 12-volt battery moves to the boot). On acceleration the recuperated energy is fed back to the drivetrain adding up to 14bhp while also serving a ‘torque-fill’ function where it fills in the gap at the bottom of the torque curve (adding up to 160Nm up to 3500rpm) before the turbo kicks in. Mercedes calls this EQ boost.

This engine is coming to India

The more important engine however is the 191bhp 2-litre diesel in the C220d, the same motor as in the new E-Class, but unlike the new E this motor will be BS VI compliant, complete with the Ad Blue urea injection. The updated C-Class range will be launched in India by October of this year – two petrols (C200 and C300), one diesel (C200d), and the C 43 AMG will come in both four-door and 2-door Coupe body styles. A cabriolet will be added to the range and so will the V8-engined C 63 AMG making it the largest number of variants to be offered on Mercedes’s most popular car. After all every fifth Merc sold is a C-Class.

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