RE: Mercedes-AMG C43 Cabriolet/Coupe: Driven

RE: Mercedes-AMG C43 Cabriolet/Coupe: Driven

Monday 13th June 2016

Mercedes-AMG C43 Cabriolet/Coupe: Driven

Lost in the 63's shadow, or a highlight in the new AMG range?



In the presence of the AMG C63, there was a danger the new C43 4Matic Cabriolet could be overlooked. Especially on PistonHeads, this bastion of V8 lunacy and oversteer appreciation. However, as this 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 will be seen in everything from E43 to GLC43, the latest performance C-Class is worthy of close attention. Particularly as there's now a new Audi S5 imminent as well.


Sadly for the C43, any concerns from the spec sheet aren't immediately allayed in the metal. Parked up next to the brooding and intimidating V8, it looks a little meek and far closer to the ordinary C-Class models than the AMG. Of course Mercedes will want some distance between the V6 and V8, but it seems a shame that the '43 cosmetic upgrades - wheels, grille, bumpers - could not convey a little more sporting intent.

The interior does a far better job, the super stylish C-Class cabin enhanced with aluminium trim, some jazzy stitching and a pair of really good seats. Certainly it makes a 4 Series look rather sombre, though the Audi comparison would still appear to be the most relevant one.


The C43 drive is split unevenly between coupe and cabriolet: barely 10 miles in the sunshine with the coupe, followed the next day by a roof-up drive in a storm with the cabriolet. Perhaps not the most comprehensive or best suited test, then, but one probably very representative for UK customers.

The coupe drive comes soon after the C63 thras- ... evaluation ... and immediately there are areas where V6 improves over V8. It feels much lighter for a start (because it is), more nimble and lithe in similar conditions. The reduced mass benefits the ride too, the C43 flowing in places where the 63 might have thumped. Even the steering feels improved; not only are there elastokinematic tweaks on the front "adopted" from the C63, but it also has just two modes for the speed sensitive power steering rather than three. Fewer modes tend to be better when it comes to things like steering. Combined with the reduced mass, the '43 steers more precisely than the '63, with less artificial weight in the racier mode too. It's not an Elise, granted, but the improvement is there.


But the V8 has to be preferable to the V6 on the road, right? Well, yes, actually it does. However good the V6 is - and it is very, very good - it would always struggle to match the thunderous charm and brutal power of the 'hot-V' V8. To its credit the 367hp 3.0-litre V6 is one of the better downsized units, revving enthusiastically to nearly 7,000rpm and disguising its force-fed nature extremely well. But if the praise for the engine is near unequivocal, the nine-speed auto it's paired to is something of a mixed bag; the AMG tweaks to the software are successful in the most part - particularly in the responsive manual mode - but it has been made too eager in the Sport and Sport Plus auto modes. With 383lb ft you don't need kickdown at every touch of the pedal!

In the limited time with the coupe on the road, it felt mature, safe and capable of carrying plenty of speed. If that makes it sound a little dull that's because, after the C63, it did feel just a little plain. That's not in some wild, tyre-smoking hooligan way either; the V8 car always rear-driven in an exciting yet accommodating way where the '43, not unlike the original A45 in fact, feels rather locked down at road speeds and uninterested in doing much beyond gripping. Mercedes says the all-wheel drive helps differentiate the two models, but then it could be argued that a litre of swept capacity, two cylinders and more than 100hp does that as well. Let's see how it fares - journalist get out of jail free card here - how it feels in the UK and, more importantly, against that S5.


To the cabriolet, and the kind of rain that makes you question Merc's logic in keeping a fabric roof. Still in truly torrential European rain, or what we might call a spring shower, the C43 feels extremely well insulated. Indeed, it may even be slightly more refined roof up than the V8, with slightly less wind noise where the windscreen and roof meet.

Much of what appeals about the coupe remains intact for the drop-top, particularly the powertrain. The slick surface doesn't turn the C43 into some kind of Evo-style 4WD weapon, but you'll hopefully understand something less than maximum commitment in weather this bad. In fact, the easily accessible performance and tremendous grip suit the more relaxed cabrio well. The V6 still sounds fantastic with the roof up too, snarling and barking its way through the rev range; shame about the contrived overrun crackle though.


So where does that leave the '43 in the AMG performance hierarchy? Don't forget there's a saloon and an estate coming too, the latter previewed in the C450 AMG last year. If you're after a fast Mercedes, chances are it already exists or is on the way! AMG's success with the C-Class has been in creating two very different products, each with their own unique appeal. On this experience of the C43, it unsurprisingly offers similar merits to those found in the C450, namely a strong powertrain and real dynamic quality in areas such as the damping. It's not as overt as the V8 car but that's exactly the point, and if you want a stylish and rapid compact exec than it comes highly recommended. For us, however, the pull of the '63's fantastic engine and more engaging handling is too strong to ignore - if there's any possibility of obtaining the V8 instead of the V6, you won't regret it.


MERCEDES-AMG C43 4MATIC CABRIOLET
Engine
: 2,996cc, V6 biturbo
Transmission: 9G-Tronic, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 367@5,500-6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 384@2,000-4,200rpm
0-62mph: 4.8sec
Top speed: 155mph
Weight(EC): 1,870kg*
MPG: 34
CO2: 190g/km
Price: £46,280
*Weight includes 90% full fuel tank, with 68kg driver and 7kg luggage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

sidesauce

Original Poster:

689 posts

146 months

Sunday 12th June 2016
quotequote all
Has anyone heard the engine note in this car? A turbo V6 that revs to 7k rpm has my respect...

Reavenger

107 posts

61 months

Sunday 12th June 2016
quotequote all
Doesn't sound good at all. The figures seem strange to me. 367bhp with a 9 speed but only 34mpg and 190 CO2? I'm guessing the huge weight, 1870kg eek is part of it. I appreciate that's laden but blimey...

British Beef

1,062 posts

93 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
Ugly outside, ugly inside, overweight and a 9 speed automatic - what is to like?

These front ends do a car justice when they need cooling for huge high powered engines. I hate these fake front end grills which are largely blanked bits of black plastic.

For the money I cannot think of a car I would less like to own!

Oddball RS

1,755 posts

146 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
Sounds good to my ears, a nice V6 note, I don't get all the -ve comments, its heavy yes its auto really? so is everything else these days over 2.0l and this is a Merc, styling well its different but each to his own, most modern cars look awkward from some angles.

Fast Bug

5,612 posts

89 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
sidesauce said:
Has anyone heard the engine note in this car? A turbo V6 that revs to 7k rpm has my respect...
Yes, it sounds lovely!
Advertisement

j90gta

423 posts

62 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
Why can't anyone design a good-looking car these days?

leef44

536 posts

81 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
"but it has been made too eager in the Sport and Sport Plus auto modes. With 383lb ft you don't need kickdown at every touch of the pedal"

I would have thought that was a good thing. If you don't want it to do that then don't be in "sport mode". Only be in "sport mode" if you want to be "sporty".

From an ownership experience point of view, it is lovely to have the refinement of the Merc which you get in "comfy" mode for normal day to day driving, but sometimes you want to overtake or have a spirited drive. The gearbox can feel lazy in the 7-G so I think it is a good thing that now they have made the "sport" mode more aggressive.

leef44

536 posts

81 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
Reavenger said:
Doesn't sound good at all. The figures seem strange to me. 367bhp with a 9 speed but only 34mpg and 190 CO2? I'm guessing the huge weight, 1870kg eek is part of it. I appreciate that's laden but blimey...
That's pretty normal economy from 367bhp I would have thought. Not really shocking.

Burnham

3,393 posts

187 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
leef44 said:
Reavenger said:
Doesn't sound good at all. The figures seem strange to me. 367bhp with a 9 speed but only 34mpg and 190 CO2? I'm guessing the huge weight, 1870kg eek is part of it. I appreciate that's laden but blimey...
That's pretty normal economy from 367bhp I would have thought. Not really shocking.
The fact that 367bhp and 34mpg is pretty normal nowadays, is itself pretty amazing too.

I'm really tempted by a GLC43. While I'd love a V8/63 it would only really come into its own maybe 5%-10% of the time I'm driving it, while having to put up with the running costs 100% of the time.

I think the V6/43 would be a good compromise and could be the pick of the bunch.

Id also love to hear it. I've not yet found a video of a GLC63 with the real engine note (there are plenty of promo videos with what sounds like a V8 soundtrack being played over it).

k-ink

9,070 posts

107 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
I saw the headline as text only in GG. I thought; "C43, cool"... Clicked the link and saw the photo; "Oh".


Riverside Red

581 posts

63 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
leef44 said:
Reavenger said:
Doesn't sound good at all. The figures seem strange to me. 367bhp with a 9 speed but only 34mpg and 190 CO2? I'm guessing the huge weight, 1870kg eek is part of it. I appreciate that's laden but blimey...
That's pretty normal economy from 367bhp I would have thought. Not really shocking.
I can get real world 30mpg, with 195g/km, from the 420 hp 5.5 litre NA V8 in my SLK 55AMG and that's why this engine is pants in the SLC and other models.

Don't like these fake AMG models, should have done something similar to the M135i or S Audis and make a definite break away from the top models.

RR


Oddball RS

1,755 posts

146 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
Riverside Red said:
leef44 said:
Reavenger said:
Doesn't sound good at all. The figures seem strange to me. 367bhp with a 9 speed but only 34mpg and 190 CO2? I'm guessing the huge weight, 1870kg eek is part of it. I appreciate that's laden but blimey...
That's pretty normal economy from 367bhp I would have thought. Not really shocking.
I can get real world 30mpg, with 195g/km, from the 420 hp 5.5 litre NA V8 in my SLK 55AMG and that's why this engine is pants in the SLC and other models.

Don't like these fake AMG models, should have done something similar to the M135i or S Audis and make a definite break away from the top models.

RR
You Sir must have one heavy SLK! to draw such parallels.

M1C

1,012 posts

39 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
It's lovely!!!!!

Whats NOT to like????!!!

R E S T E C P

16 posts

22 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
M1C said:
Whats NOT to like????!!!
The way it looks, the weight, the cheap looking interior with nasty after-thought screen.

scherzkeks

4,460 posts

62 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
j90gta said:
Why can't anyone design a good-looking car these days?
While not a huge fan of much of the new design language, to be fair, many of these new Mercs look better in the metal.

Unlike most BMW and modern Audi products.

Fast Bug

5,612 posts

89 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
Riverside Red said:
Don't like these fake AMG models, should have done something similar to the M135i or S Audis and make a definite break away from the top models.

RR
It's not an AMG though, it's a Mercedes-AMG which is their version of an S4 as opposed to a C63 AMG which would be on a par with an RS4. Slightly confusing with the naming, but it isn't an AMG model (nor is it meant to be) much like an M135 isn't a full fat M car

MarshPhantom

9,658 posts

65 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
scherzkeks said:
While not a huge fan of much of the new design language, to be fair, many of these new Mercs look better in the metal.

Unlike most BMW and modern Audi products.
The new Coupe looks much better in the metal, a nice looking car.

Loach

3,351 posts

144 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
The new C-Class coupe has looks that only Chris Bangle's mother could love, and the fast ones come as automatics only... which makes them somewhat special-needs 'sports' cars; but having spent a bit of time with a C63 S Coupe over the weekend, I'm willing to forgive it all of that. It was epic. Properly scary and thrilling, to the extent that I was genuinely and properly scared and thrilled. I loved it. I can imagine that the downsides of a C43 would weigh much more heavily in my mind without the blown V8 to compensate.

Lovely interior, though. When you don't have to see the outside of it and can put the averted gazes and occasional vomiting of passers by down to something else, a very nice place to be.

Edited by Loach on Monday 13th June 17:04

j90gta

423 posts

62 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
scherzkeks said:
j90gta said:
Why can't anyone design a good-looking car these days?
While not a huge fan of much of the new design language, to be fair, many of these new Mercs look better in the metal.

Unlike most BMW and modern Audi products.
Most modern Mercedes just look fat and bloated

AJXX1

334 posts

47 months

Monday 13th June 2016
quotequote all
R E S T E C P said:
The way it looks, the weight, the cheap looking interior with nasty after-thought screen.
I agree. That dash is hideously plastic looking. That screen looks like a cheap android tablet that's been blue tacked on.