Living in inner city Sydney I’ve become somewhat of a sad expert on exhaust notes. AMG C63s and A45s, BMW M3s and M4s, V8 and VI2 Ferraris and naturally aspirated Maserati, (the latter of which are always making more noise than the combined sum of all previously mentioned). I can pick them without even looking out the window. The first time I encounter a C43 is through noise and my equally first thought is ‘oh dear, I’m going to be hearing these a lot’.
So it’s a relief to learn that the Performance Exhaust is optional for the Australian market, as part of the performance package for the AMG C43 range. This package will consist not only of the Performance Exhaust, but the fantastic seats and steering wheel from the AMG C63 S. But my relief quickly fades with the realisation that no one will order a C43 without that exhaust.
Up here in the hills of Slovenia, all you can hear bouncing through the valley is that rifle sharp snap and crack exhaust note of C43s clearly being driven hard. Beyond the cracker of an exhaust note, the C43 is also a proper cracker to drive. The 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine produces a very healthy 270kW and an even healthier 520Nm, giving away 105kW and 180Nm to the C63’s twin-turbocharged V8. Those numbers appear in writing to be a lot but in real driving are a lot less. The key is that while the C63 only sends its power rearwards, the C43 gets surgical and harnesses its outputs, via the nine-speed automatic transmission, through Mercedes- Benz’s all-wheel-drive 4Matic system. The results are nothing short of extraordinary.
The C43 (even in Cabriolet form) is right up there as one of the most ‘chuckable’ cars around. Carrying speed over short straights the C43 feels almost a little too light on its toes but once loaded up into corners I can think of very few cars in this segment that would come close to staying with it, and none with the level of confidence that 4Matic provides. Put 5 or 6 corners together and your rear view mirror should be empty of contenders.
On my return from a 20-odd kilometre solo lap around some amazingly challenging roads, I find myself pulling up in front of a few German Mercedes-Benz staff. For some unknown reason I try not to give anything away about what I’ve just been up to, as though I went for a calm drive around the block to buy bread and milk. But I can’t hide the cheeky grin on my face as I climb out. Then I accidently giggle. Yes, I giggle. The result? They smile, nod in understanding, and start to giggle, too.
To take it a step further I believe that a well-driven C43 would run rings around an averagely driven C63. In the wet it would be no contest.
If harassing C63s and M3s in an apparently lesser vehicle at track days is your thing, than the C43 is the car for you. But it feels strange to compare the C43 to other models in Mercedes’ C-Class range because this engine, combined with 4Matic, turns it into a completely different car. Australia’s love affair with AMG is set to continue.
Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic Cabriolet
Engine: 2996cc V6, dohc, 24V, twin-turbo
Power: 270kW @ 6200rpm
Torque: 520Nm @ 2000-4200rpm
Weight: 1795kg (150kW/tonne)
0-100km/h: 4.8sec (claimed)
Top speed: 250km/h (claimed)
Basic price: c$120,000