When the fellows at AMG are handed a standard Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, they rub their hands in glee and set about transforming the car – and I mean really transforming it. From a gracious, somewhat self-effacing executive car, the C becomes a mad, fire-spewing hellhound. Its engine snarls in anger, doing away with niceties; the suspension stiffens and lets the car do all kinds of trigger happy things around corners; in a straight line, the C rockets forward as if strapped to a missile, gunning for the horizon relentlessly. The experience of it is all-encompassing, and you very rarely have a straight face while driving it.
The C43 AMG is not that car, though. Depending on what your automobile politics are, it is either utter sacrilege or a welcome relief, and neither camp is likely to gravitate towards the other anytime soon. This being the case, I’ll stick to the facts – the C43 AMG is a hugely capable, very fast and suprisingly comfortable machine, and if you view it strictly from this prism, it ticks lots of boxes. In fact, it could well be the performance sedan you’re looking for, if the ferocious C63 AMG is a little too lairy (and expensive) for your tastes. Keep in mind that nobody is going to mistake the C43 for its bigger sibling, simply because it’s been toned down in the looks department as well. You’d be forgiven for clocking it as a standard C-Class, until you peer at it closely and notice the added touches – AMG and Biturbo badging, flared fenders and airdams, 18-inch wheels, quad exhaust pipes and so forth. This car could even be called a ‘sleeper’ — relatively unassuming externally, but powerful as all hell under the hood.
Under said hood lies a 3-litre, twin-turbocharged, V6 petrol engine, putting out 362 bhp and 520 Nm of torque – suffice to say that it’s no party-pooper. Yes, it’s a fair bit down on power from the full-bore C63 AMG, but let me tell you that in the real world, you won’t really miss that. As soon as you floor the throttle (which you’ll do a lot in this thing), the C43 drops whatever its doing and bolts off the line, pulling cleanly and efficiently all the way to its 6500 rpm engine redline, with nary a hint of turbo lag. It makes a wonderful noise at full chat, too, with a variety of burbles and pops making themselves heard, especially with the car in Sport Plus mode; at lower revs, it’s a much quieter car, which some will prefer (personally, I like a bit of noise out of my performance cars at all times). A 9-speed automatic transmission does duty alongside the engine — it’s fast and capable, but it lacks a certain last-mile bite that would have gone well with the car.
The C43’s biggest asset is its all-wheel drive system, which ensures that it’s planted in a glue-like fashion to the road. The C63, in contrast, is rearwheel driven, and although it’s a lot more fun, it can also bite back very hard if you don’t know what you’re doing. Around corners, the C43 is beautifully balanced and gives you the confidence to push harder, the AWD working to send up to 69 per cent of the power to the rear wheels when needed. The steering wheel, although quick, lacks the heft and super-precision of the C63 – again, some will find this to be more of a friendly feature than a drawback. The car offers a very comfortable ride in almost all conditions, which is a huge plus; you do have to be sensible while driving it over speedbreakers and bad roads, though. At about a crore of rupees in Mumbai, the C43 AMG is by no means cheap, but when you consider that it will hit 100 kph in 5 seconds, has a top speed of 250 kph, comes with a high quality interior and saves you about Rs 70 lakh over a C63 AMG, the word ‘bargain’ comes to mind.
What we like
Blazing performance, comfort, friendly to drive.
What we don’t
Lacks C63-level drama