Mercedes-Benz India might have had plenty reasons to launch the C43 AMG saloon for the Indian market and from them we can clearly see two important ones. The first is to bridge the gap between the standard C-Class C200 petrol and the brute C63 AMG. Two, to expand the carmaker's AMG performance oriented automobile portfolio in India. And many enthusiasts should be welcoming this move, as they get an affordable AMG product in the form of the C43 AMG. We had given our first impressions about the car when we had a go in it at the Buddh International circuit last year. Now, we've driven it on our roads to find out if it's still fun to drive it on a regular basis and if it’s practical.
The ones that we drove at the circuit sported a flashy red exterior body colour. However, this one is in a plain Jane avatar white paint scheme. If not noticed closely this one can pass off as just another regular C-Class. However, the ones who have an eye for AMG cars will notice the subtle yet interesting changes. The fascia is very much like the standard C-Class sedan, save for the larger air dams. The diamond-style grille gets a twin-slat design and still isn't flashy despite the use of chrome. The front bumper is slightly chiseled to go with the overall aggressive stance nicely complemented by the larger five-spoke AMG-spec alloy wheels. Things around the back are also typically what we can expect from AMG cars. The most prominent aspect is the quad exhaust set-up on the rear bumper. The latter sports an in-built diffuser too. Then there is a subtle lip spoiler on the boot-lid finishing off the look at the rear.
The cabin of the C43 AMG is similar to the C-Class in terms of layout and design. However, akin to the sporty bits on the outside, Mercedes has also tweaked the interior to make it look sportier. So the instrument cluster gets a chequered flag design and a race-timer function in typical AMG style. Then there is a flat-bottomed steering wheel and ash wood trim on the door panels (which can be had in red accents). The 5.5-inch screen in the centre still isn't a touch screen display, but works efficiently through the controller. The aluminium accents on the dashboard and the upholstery with red stitching further do their part of adding some flair in the cabin. The black Artico leather seats look good, feel premium and are comfortable too. Finally, the bold red coloured seat belts again remind you of the car's AMG nature.
While the front seats get the electronic aids to help you find a relaxed position, the rear seats get adequate leg room as well. Back support and thigh support might not be the best in the C43 AMG, but at no point did it make me feel uncomfortable. The sloping roofline has reduced the head room and the black interior might give a stuffy feeling. But, then the sun roof adds to an airy feel and the separate air-con vents at the back bring in some respite. However, this is true only for two occupants in the rear seat. A third person can be accommodated, but the high transmission tunnel will make him sit in a constrained position. Then there is a large boot to take care of your luggage needs, but most of the space is taken by the spare tyre allowing room for only three to four small bags.
The Mercedes-AMG C43 comes powered by a twin turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol mill. It is rated at 362bhp of power and a huge 520Nm of torque sending power to all wheels through the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. This engine isn't as flamboyant as the C63 AMG's V8 powerplant, but has a charm of its own. It will not rumble at lower revs like the other performance cars. However, this is a good thing as it is silent at low rpms making sedate driving a pleasurable experience. This is where the Eco or Comfort driving mode will be mostly used. The nine-speed automatic gearbox is nicely tuned to shift gears quickly. But it still isn't as quick and responsive as the dual-clutch transmission. That said, this trait comes to the fore only when driving flat-out. Otherwise, the healthy amount of torque is available from 2,000rpm making sure there is always enough grunt to keep going. You don't need to slam the pedal and downshift for a quick overtake or sprint. A gentle tap on the pedal is good enough to get going.
As we had mentioned in our earlier spin at the Buddha circuit, the Sport and Sport + driving modes bring out a different character to the car. The vehicle likes it when it’s given some stick. At higher revs the engine starts snarling with a nice tone, while the nine-speed gearbox is eager to hold the revs till 6,300rpm before shifting. The rev happy engine's performance in these modes outshines the Eco and Comfort mode. In the 0-100sprint, the passengers are hurled back into their seats as the car lunges forward to the 100kmph mark in a remarkable 4.79 seconds time. The electronically limited top speed of 250kmph is easily achievable.
The C43's 4MATIC AWD system has been given a rear-bias setup to send 69 percent of the power to the rear wheels. So it isn't boring as four-wheel drive cars are perceived to be as against rear-wheel-drive ones. In fact, this one will let you have all the fun and the electronics will play their role to keep you planted at any point. The 18-inch alloys shod with Continental ContiSportContact rubber provide phenomenal levels of grip only to help you push the car even harder. Then the AMG sports braking system has got your back as it brings the car to a stop quickly even from high speeds. This system features internally ventilated compound discs with 4-piston callipers that provide a good bite and feel. Enabling good turn-ins, the steering feel is very likable and response is sharp in the sport modes though it feels a little vague in the comfort mode.
Furthermore, the C43 also features AMG ride control, which is a sports suspensions setup with AMG developed springs and a three-stage variable damper. The body roll is very much in control inspiring you to do more of enthusiastic driving. And whether in the comfort mode or sport mode, the suspension feels plaint absorbing all the undulations. At higher speeds, the up and down movements become evident though. Even over sharp potholes and rough surfaces the thunks and thud are audible in the cabin. Also, since the car sits low, one will have to be careful going over speed bumps to avoid scraping the under belly.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||362bhp @ 5,500rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||520Nm @ 2,000rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||66|
|Tyre size||235/40 R18, 255/35 R18|
|4MATIC all-wheel drive||Yes|
|AMG Ride Control with sport suspension||Yes|
|Reversing camera with guidance||Yes|
|Five driving modes||Yes|
|Artico leather seat upholstery||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||C43||Sportback 3.0 TFSI Quattro|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||362bhp @ 5,500rpm||328bhp @ 5,500rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||520Nm @ 2,000rpm||440Nm @ 2,900rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||66||61|
|Tyre size||235/40 R18, 255/35 R18||245/40 R18|
The C43 AMG is priced at Rs 74.3 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi), which is almost half the cost of its other AMG sibling - the C63 AMG S (Rs 1.33 crore). The former isn't as ferocious as the latter, but does justice to the AMG badge on it. Plus it is so much practical to be driven as a daily driving car making it all the more desirable. Moreover, the C43's closest rival in terms of pricing is the Audi S5 (Rs 66.20 lakh), but then it’s long in the tooth and will soon make way for its successor. So tiill then, the C43 AMG surely has a free run in the Indian market.