Mercedes-AMG C43 Estate

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.

mercedes-amg-c43-estateIt’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.

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