In the 24/7 news cycle, it’s rare to find a car as uncovered as the Mercedes C43 AMG. Perhaps it’s the limited changes to the external and internal appearances over the base C300. It could be the fact that the C43 is not a ‘real’ AMG which traditionally has a engine hand built by one man. Or maybe it is because the C43 AMG existed in 2016 as a C450 “sport line” AMG with limited changes in the new-for-2017 C43 AMG designation.
Regardless of the reason, I’ll take the limited coverage blessing. In the words of my great aunt Gertrude, “when life gives you lemons, sell lemonade and profit. Your costs are virtually zero.”
The Mercedes C43 AMG Tester
I purchased a polar white Mercedes C43 AMG recently. If only the costs were virtually zero. The C43 AMG came in just under $63k with destination before negotiations brought the sales price down to ~$52k.
Packages included the Premium Package 3 ($4,150), equipping the car with LED lights, a larger center console screen, navigation, voice control, upgraded sound system, heated seats, and more AMG swag covered throughout the cabin than I care to admit. I also opted for the premium 19 inch wheels ($850), run flat summer performance tires ($0), AMG Sport Exhaust ($1,250), the night package which blacks out the front spoiler, sideview mirrors, and the front intakes ($200), carbon fiber trunk spoiler ($700), carbon fiber dashboard ($975), and a panoramic roof ($1,450).
The base C class comes with a modern twist on the Mercedes classic lines. Aggressive front facias add a sporty look to the model and the tail has a smooth and flowing elegance which rounds out the car nicely. The C43 AMG adds a slightly more aggressive front, side defusers, and side badges for the ‘biturbo’ engine. You may have to squint to tell the difference between the two models. I’m a fan of sleepers, and this car is certainly one.
The exterior packages - the night packages, rims and the panoramic roof - add to the C43’s appearance. The coordination of the black roof, black side mirrors, and black rims almost make me look as if I planned the tuxedo look. Alas, I didn’t - I took what I could find on the lot at the best price.
The interior is classy with the absence of a shifter in the center stack and lines that flow all the way to the center compartment console. The shifter is mounted to the steering column, which sounds much more old school “Buick” than it really is. An 8.7in
iPad center screen is mounted to the top of the dashboard and displays the latest COMAND system. I’d love to say the system is improved over prior iterations, but it has quite the learning curve with poor user design.
Fake leather is used throughout the cabin but the untrained eye will never notice the difference. The seats are plush and comfortable over long hauls and internal materials are generally quite good and luxurious feeling. Some materials do miss the mark: I’m looking at you, seat heater buttons and center compartment.
Performance is where the C43 AMG really shines. Equipped with a 3.0L V6 twin turbo engine putting out 362 hp and 384 ft-lb, the C43 hit 60mph from a stop in 4.6 seconds. Even in the most aggressive “Sport Plus” setting, I didn’t hear a peep of tires losing grip due to the AWD system which fixes a 31% front / 69% rear power delivery. The system is no Quattro, but grip feels quite plentiful and the rear bias is noticed on the track. Road noise is present over 50mph thanks to the Continental run flat tires.
The C43 AMG electronic steering is well implemented with a lighter feel at slower speeds and increasingly heavier feel at faster speeds. Mercedes thankfully doesn’t overdo the heavy steering, even in more aggressive settings, and road feel remains throughout the speeds.
Speaking of the settings, the C43 AMG comes standard with Dynamic Select. This system allows the driver to choose settings for the steering, engine, suspension, and other parts of the car. You can save chosen selections under the “individual” mode. Dynamic Select also 4 built in modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus.
Car personality changes to a meaningful degree in Sport and Sport Plus, with the latter defaulting to the most aggressive settings for the engine and suspension. The suspension is firm without being overbearing in this mode, and engine response is magical. In Sport, steering and engine responses are improved over Comfort but still pleasant enough to be used in light traffic.
It’s a Wrap... For Now
As of now, the C43 AMG has less than a thousand miles on it. I’ll continue to report back on interesting components of the car and reactions as I drive it more. I’ll also continue to cross my fingers that this gem of a car continues to be ignored by most of the press.