ROAD TEST: Merc-AMG C43 is the pick of this segment right now

Output increase is nominal but it does feel crisper.

The refreshed Mercedes-AMG C43 range has been somewhat comprehensively covered by our publication already.

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My colleague Ntsako Mthethwa wrote a road-test story on the convertible version a while ago in the Motoring supplement and before that deputy editor Brendan Seery did a Saturday lifestyle story on the sedan version, which you are going to read about here.

I am not going to rehash what they have already covered, but as the road test editor, I can talk a bit more about the numbers and performance of the very fast and practical sedan that wears an AMG badge.

Tobias Moers, chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, said: “As the most successful model series for Mercedes-AMG, the C-Class family in all its facets has made a major contribution to our corporate success.

“One major component in this success story was the implementation of the 43-series models, which have thrilled our customers worldwide since the market launch in 2015.

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“The high demand and positive feedback have encouraged us to sharpen up not only the appearance of the facelift, but also its performance, efficiency and dynamism in true AMG style.”

Before you just dismiss this as clever “marketing speak” – which in truth it is – there is more to the C43 than just a watered down version of the C63.

Styling is as aggressive and distinctive as its big brother and the soundtrack from the dual tailpieces, while not quite as raucous, does let the neighbours know you are driving an AMG.

The output of the 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 engine has been increased from 270kW to 287kW.

There is no real way you will feel this nominal gain, but to be honest, this sedan did feel a little crisper than I recall the previous version feeling.

And my road test data obtained at the Gerotek testing facility backed this up.

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The C43 Sedan uses a smooth and/or fast shifting AMG Speedshift TCT 9G transmission, that offers various drive modes as usual, which varies from Comfort to Sport+, and everything you could want in between, but there is no race mode that allows for a bona-fide launch control function.

The standard-specification AMG Performance 4Matic four-wheel drive system is rear-biased with a torque distribution split of 31% up front and 69% at the rear.

Making full use of the extra power and 520Nm of torque that is available from 2 500 to 5 000rpm and reeling off sub-five second 0-100km/h runs without a hint of wheel spin, is child’s play.

I simply selected Sport+, hit the traction control button once, held the brake and floored the accelerator to build some boost and let the brake go

. And just like that the C43 Sedan beat 0- 100km/h in 4.71 seconds, 400m in 13.01 sec, 800m at 214km/h and the 1km at 226km/h, with the top speed being electronically stopped shortly thereafter at 251km/h.

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PS: The soon-to-be-launched G20 BMW 3 Series is said to be featuring an xDrive M340i and this is the machine that will go straight up against the C43.

Ironically of the traditional big three German mass-production premium brands, it’s only Audi that seems to have given up the challenge, for now.

Being what could well be an everyday family car, fuel consumption would be of some importance, even if it is a performance-biased AMG model.

Here I was quite impressed. Mercedes-AMG claim an average of 9.3-litres per 100km and a few times while cruising on the open road at the national speed limit, I could get the number under 10l/100km.

Obviously when you make full use of all the power you have purchased, you must be prepared to see that number go as high as 15litres/100km, but the moment you calm down and get away from the likes of Gerotek or driving flat out, the C43 quickly settles on a very reasonable number of around 11.6l/100km.

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The handling was sharp and easy, with its adjustable, electronically controlled damping system.

The AMG ride control suspension of the C43 4Matic provides both sporty driving dynamics and comfort when you want it, courtesy of a switch on the centre console that allows you to select between three different sets of damper characteristics –Comfort, Sport and Sport+.

The electro-mechanical speed-sensitive power steering also has a variable ratio.

The steering servo assistance is reduced at high speeds and continuously increases at lower speeds.

This means that comparatively little steering force is required at low speeds and that the best possible control over the vehicle is maintained at high speeds.

Again this is once again influenced by the selected suspension setting.

The Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan strikes the perfect balance between everyday boredom and over-the-top, high-powered, race track antics.

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It is packed with the latest technology and safety features and at a suggested retail price of R948 500, it would be my automatic choice in this segment right now.

But, as said earlier, BMW are about to fire back with their allnew G20 3 Series. Game on!

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Likes

  • Easy to drive fast.
  • Practical.

Dislikes 

  • BMW is going to strike back immediately.

Verdict 

It is the pick of the bunch in this segment right now.

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