2017 Mercedes-AMG C43: long-term review, Month 1

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43

It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.

And so it was with a gentle skepticism we learned of Mercedes-AMG’s new C43 – the all-wheel drive, 270kW twin-turbo V6 baby brother (AMG would tell you) of the mega V8 C63.

Yet not too many moons ago this upstart sibling was called a C450 AMG Sport. In a recent upgrade to its auto transmission, from seven to nine speeds, Mercedes also thought it’d upgrade the name. Hmm.

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 rearOf course, it’s not uncommon for car manufacturers to try to get as much value out of their performance brands as possible. Car Company A cooks up something with a bit of spice, attaches the badges of its go-fast division and then adjusts the price accordingly – only for punters to find it’s the motoring equivalent of a korma when they were hoping for a blistering vindaloo.

We’re not suggesting these are Mercedes’ shenanigans with its new line of 43-badged AMG products (there’s also an E43, SLC43, GLE43 and GLC43 – phew!). It’s just that, prior to driving the C43 we desperately hoped it had the go-fast ability as promised by the badges.

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 engineBecause if it did, a ‘baby V6 C63’ – for $50K less – would be a mighty attractive offer and enough to make BMW and Audi squirm with the 340i and S4, particularly given the strength of the AMG brand in Oz.

So... is the C43 a proper AMG, or a tepid pretender with an identity crisis? We’ve got six months to find out.

A glance over the specs certainly gets one nodding. With 270kW and 520Nm from its 3.0-litre ‘biturbo’ V6, the C43’s outputs almost identically match those of last decade’s C55 AMG (back when a Benz badge actually related to engine capacity).

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 interiorAt $101,900 the sedan is the cheapest of the C43 quartet, the Estate $104,400, Coupe $105,615 and Cabrio $119,900. All come loaded to the hilt with standard equipment.

On paper, though, one thing especially jumps out and that’s the ‘4MATIC’ all-wheel drive. The C43 sedan comes with a permanent 33/67 front-to-rear split. No doubt helpful in hitting that 4.7sec claimed 0-100km/h time, but there’s something about this particular all-wheel drive system that, from the outset, and in an AMG sports sedan, feels a bit too sensible. If rear-drive was deemed suitable for the 375kW Merc C63, why not the 270kW C43?

2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 drivingThough its 0-100km/h time wouldn’t be as impressive, imagining the C43 with rear-drive and a limited slip diff almost doubles the amount of salivation. Of course, many customers will appreciate the security of all-wheel drive, and many might even be attracted by it, but it seems to us all-wheel drive in an AMG sedan should be some desperate last resort for when the rear bags simply can’t take any more, a la E63 S.

Yes, there’s a rear bias – on paper – but how does it translate to the real world? We will find out next month, where we start to get a proper taste of the C43. Please may it burn our mouths off.

MONTH ONE

Liked
Plenty of AMG-ness going on

Disliked
Metal interior trims scalding in summer

Favourite moment
Opening the taps for the first time. Jesus, it’s loud.

Claimed combined consumption: 8.2L/100km
Starting kilometres: 1055km
Duration: 6 months

Read more about our Mercedes-AMG C43 long-term review

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