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New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough

Published:19 June 2018

New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
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  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Keith Adams

Devout classic Citroen enthusiast, walking car encyclopedia, and long-time contributor to CAR

By Keith Adams

Devout classic Citroen enthusiast, walking car encyclopedia, and long-time contributor to CAR

► Revised Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe
► Power up to 385bhp, extra tech too
► UK prices from £50,010, on sale now

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe follows on from the rest of the C-class facelift by adding more tech, an enhanced suite of driver assistance packages, and a raft of a subtle visual changes. Mercedes-Benz says that in facelifting the C-class range as a whole it’s changed or updated around 6500 components. Looking at the gently evolved C43, you’d never guess it.

The ingredients remain pretty much as they did – so you get that interesting halfway house between upmarket C-class, and full-blooded C63, in a package that offers performance when you want it, and a relaxed drive when you don’t. Inside, you get digital instruments with an AMG flavour, and on the outside, a range of new aero wheels, sized between 18 and 19 inches.

Until the C63 arrives later in 2018, this is the big one, then. It gets a small upgrade to 385bhp and torque remains as it was. So, does the C43 retain its group test-winning ability following the 2018 updates? Let’s see.

So, tell us more about the facelifted 2018 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic

There wasn’t a great deal wrong with the C43 Coupe before. We should know because we're living with one in our long-term test.

The highly aerodynamic styling benefits from the AMG tweaks, and that aggressive front bumper and side skirts complement the car’s great stance and proportions. Riding on new 19-inch alloys, it’s pumped up with brooding menace, which is what you want in a £50k-plus coupe.

Mercedes-AMG C43 review

Inside, it’s business as usual, too – the well-sized cabin benefits from AMG sports seats and lashings of carbonfibre, and the new digital instruments are easy to read and work well. The new infotainment screen looks a little odd, now it’s longer and flatter, but it’s in a good position and works well, thanks to its centrally-mounted controller. The cruise control buttons have moved from the column to the wheel, and for Mercedes-Benz old hands, this will be something of a culture shock.

Fire it up, and the V6 sounds muted, but ready to play. In Comfort and Sport modes, you’ll be able to make quick and quiet progress. Stick it into Sport+ model and all that changes, as the exhaust clears its throat, and the nine-speed auto and throttle become a whole lot more responsive. In short, these three drive programmes cover most eventualities perfectly well, with the Individual setting available for those who want a little fine tuning.

And how does the new Merc C43 drive?

In Comfort and Sport, it all feels a little too composed to wear its AMG badges comfortably. Performance is all there, with good mid-range punch and all-out acceleration, but if you’re looking for thrills, rather than efficiency, then Sport+ is an absolute must. The exhaust note is deep and rich, although you’d struggle to tell it’s a V6, while the throttle response and adjustability are good.

New facelifted 2018 Mercedes-AMG C43 interior

With so much torque arriving so low down, response is good, although it doesn’t slam you in the back quite as much as its 4.7-second 0-62mph time would lead you to believe. The gearbox is responsive enough to keep things on the boil – but sometimes it can be caught by surprise on an overtake, leaving you waiting for the power to arrive.

The steering is where you’d expect it to be. Accurate and responsive, yes, but lacking in ultimate feel. For today’s digital drivers dealing with a four-wheel drive performance coupe, this isn’t too much of a deal-breaker, but for those who value good old-fashioned road feel, it’s a disappointment.

In terms of handling, the 4Matic system does its stuff impressively, and although there’s a rearward bias (31:69), most of the time, it feels neutral and utterly planted. Is it capable of AMG-style, tyre smoking, tail-out party tricks? Absolutely. But it does feel a little out of this car’s comfort zone.

Mercedes-AMG C43 prices and specs

Mercedes-AMG C43: verdict

The C43 remains the excellent sporting choice in the range. For the money, it’s still the best all-rounder in its class, although we’re unconvinced that it has enough theatre to wear its AMG spurs with honours – perhaps that’s down to the halo the brilliant C63 AMG casts over this little brother. 

Fans of the full-fat C63 might say the junior V6 doesn’t feel fast or special enough, but we’d say it ticks the fast grand tourer box more than adequately. It’s quick, engaging and efficient, though, and its added exhaust fizz is enough to tip the balance over an Audi S5 or BMW 440i.

More Mercedes-Benz reviews by CAR magazine

Specs

Price when new: £51,695
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 2996cc 24v petrol, twin turbo 386bhp @ 6100rpm, 384lb ft @ 2500-5000rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Performance: 4.8sec 0-62mph, 155mph (limited), 29.1mpg, 223g/km CO2 (18”/19” wheels)
Weight / material: 1885
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4696, 2016 (incl. door mirrors), 1405 in mm

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  • New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough
  • New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough
  • New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough
  • New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough
  • New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough
  • New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough
  • New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough
  • New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough
  • New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough
  • New Mercedes-AMG C43 review: AMG Lite is plenty strong enough

By Keith Adams

Devout classic Citroen enthusiast, walking car encyclopedia, and long-time contributor to CAR

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