We’re not along for the ride …. Because the ride is awful. Shame, as everything else is ace
Let’s do the maths on this. A C43 sounds like, ooh, about two-thirds of a C63. And on paper, that sums up perfectly the positioning of the latest AMG. With 362bhp and 384lb ft from its bi-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, all vital statistics are pegged back just enough from big brother to allow the promise of devilish pace at a more democratic price.
And this is a truly rapid wagon. Merc claims 155mph and 0-62mph in 4.7sec, which feels entirely believable as you’re pinned deep into the plump faux-leather sports seats, clasped by a bright scarlet seatbelt. The two-cylinder deficit brings a more muted exhaust note, rippling with a digitally managed burble at tickover but never quite letting rip acoustically at the top end.
There’s much to like here. All C-class qualities are present and correct: it’s beautifully built, has a chic, swooping style and a cockpit that straddles a perfect line between the quality of an Audi and the driver focus of a BMW, with more panache than either.
It’s a spirited drive too, a standard 4wd laying down the power with conviction, the upgraded nine-speed auto shuffling between relaxed cruise and neck-hairs-erect back-road blast. We managed an easy 30mpg. But – and this is a serious flaw – a disappointingly jittery ride ruins so much of the good work.
We bounced and pogoed around Cambridgeshire’s roads, desperately fiddling with the adjustable dampers (tuned separately from the engine and handling nannies), but even in Comfort it foiled to settle. It rides way worse than a C63, even on 18in alloys. Which left us baffled as well as disturbed.
The C43’s lack of composure rather ruined what is otherwise a highly desirable high-performance estate.