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Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG | Middle Child Syndrome

BY Azfar Hashim

Filling the gap between the C250 AMG Line and the full-blown C63 AMG, is there actually enough space for this new C43 AMG?

Photos by Azfar Hashim

If you were to search through Burnpavement’s archive, you could read our review of the Mercedes-Benz C250 AMG Line and C63 S AMG. While they both have their strengths (and little weaknesses), it would always be nice to have one other model that fills the gap between the two; mind you, the 2.0-litre 208 bhp C250 retails for $244k while the 4.0-litre 503 bhp C 63 S has a price tag of $454k. A whooping 295 bhp and $210k separate the two.

That said, Mercedes-Benz isn’t the first to introduce such ‘gap filler’ though. Looking back, Audi had the S4 to bridge the A4 2.0 TFSI to the RS4. Even BMW had the 335i (now 340i) between the 328i and M3. You get the drift.

Well to be honest, it’s a good attempt by Mercedes-Benz. There are issues that needed ironing out, but let me reiterate that it’s a good try.

To put my point across, let me put it this way: You see, Mercedes-Benz has done what Porsche had done to their Cayman and 911. It’s an open secret that if Porsche had put in more effort into the Cayman, it will cannibalise sales of the 911 – why pay 911 money when you could get something as good for almost half the price (in local context, that is).

So to be brutally honest, the C43 AMG is only half as good as the C63 S AMG we’ve tested previously. Don’t get me wrong though; in a straight line, the smaller-engined C AMG is superbly fast and the way it delivers all that powaaah is exactly what you would expect from the AMG guys. And because there’s the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system to keep you grounded, the 367 bhp and 520 Nm at full blast isn’t a handful to handle compared to the C63 S. It even has proper stopping power courtesy of the mega brakes up front that doesn’t threaten to fade when you need it most.

But the moment you start to turn in, it doesn’t seem to feel sorted. I initially blamed it on my unfamiliarity with the car, but after spending time driving along tight corners and sweeping bends, it still doesn’t impress much. Yes, the front two wheels surely follow your commands; the suspension, on the other hand, refused to play along and feel ‘properly sporty’. Even when the car’s set to Sport or Sport+, the stiffness - or lack there of - potentially confuses you.

Driving enthusiastically next to a hot-hatch, you do need to brake earlier in the C43 AMG.

However when driven along the expressway, the car exposes something else: Comfort. Left to run in its default mode, the C43 surprisingly absorbs road undulations with aplomb. Even the bumpy KPE is well ironed out ensuring occupants get to enjoy a smooth journey. To add on, Mercedes put in quite a lot of effort to mask sound out of the cabin; tyre, wind and even exhaust noises are almost non-existent at safe cruising speeds.

So in essence, the C43 AMG is a mightily powerful sedan that provides comfort; it will be the right car for someone currently driving a C180/C200 looking upwards for something that has the capability to go fast but without any compromise for daily usability.

For the rest of us, however, there are the BMW 340i, upcoming Audi S4 and even Infiniti Q50S Red Sport 400 to consider. Not forgetting the supercharged V6 Jaguar XE S.

Cockpit is well appointed along with faultless build quality

Cockpit is well appointed along with faultless build quality

If you want something even more, then my suggestion would be to go straight for the C63 S AMG.

Seats are both comfortable and snug

Seats are both comfortable and snug