It’s always a good day when a new Mercedes-Benz shows up in the driveway to test for a week. After all, Mercedes is currently selling some of the most comfortable and technologically advanced cars on the road. We have seen that with the 2019 E450 Wagon and 2020 GLE350 we tested earlier in the year. But, when that Mercedes happens to have an AMG badge on it, you know the day is not going to be just good, but a complete blast.
Out of all the German performance lineups, the AMGs are the brutes. The BMW Ms are precision driving machines and Audi S/RS are sophisticated cars for lawyers. But the AMGs…they will have none of it. They are the muscle cars, ready to make their presence known to all around, and the baby AMG C-class fits in perfectly.
I’ll get right into my favorite thing about the C43 AMG. The noise. Everything the Mercedes does it makes sure everyone around the car is aware. Want to startup? Exhaust bark. Want to take off quickly? Tire chirp. Need to up-shift? Gunshot. Need to downshift? Burble-burble-burble. With assistance from the optional AMG Performance Exhaust System, the 3.0L biturbo V6 makes all of the noises you could ever want and then some. The noise is not without results either. 4Matic AWD plus 390hp and 384 lb/ft bring the Coupe to 60 MPH in 4.5 seconds (0.1 seconds faster than the sedan). Not world beating numbers, but for a vehicle that starts around $55,000 dollars, a number that is entirely respectable.
As you would expect, the ride is quite nice and handled imperfections with ease. In Comfort mode, the ride is great and it will not leave you regretting getting the AMG on a bumpy road. Sport and Sport+ definitely take it up to the next notch, but not so much that it is overwhelming. Road noise was what could be defined as “Mercedes level”, even in a dedicated sports coupe. The optional AMG sports seats were actually very comfortable and provided an amazing amount of lateral support.
Interior room on the coupe was surprisingly ample. Usually coupes are 2+2, which the rear tow being entirely unusable. In the C43 AMG, I actually found myself transporting more than two passengers with neither complaining about space. Ingress and egress is obviously more difficult compared to the sedan, but rear passengers had plenty of room for a quick jaunt to a local restaurant and back.
Interior quality was on par with Mercedes wonderful current design language. The custom color ambient lights make such a huge positive impression and ensure a grin will be plastered on your face when entering the car. Sadly the piano/gloss black I love to hate is still present, though it appears a carbon fiber look is thankfully an option.
The exterior is conservative, if not a bit boring in my opinion, but it earned the attention a car of its stature would normally demand. The cardinal red paint seemed to hide a lot of the details that made the AMG special, but I would not kick it out of the garage.
Other mild complaints include the raucous exhaust sound when you are not burying your right foot. Perhaps it’s the upgraded exhaust, but the C43 should be able to act like a GT car and be quiet when necessary. Those wonderful upshift gunshots become annoying upshift “burps” when there should be nothing. The steering feel also shows its German muscle car roots. I found it to be a bit light and it did not inspire confidence when taking sharp corners. The heavy feeling of a car that is capable of doing what you’re asking was gone. Lastly there is the options list. While I loved so many of the things thrown onto the car, the $57,450 MSRP reached an insane $74,410 before Mercedes handed over the keys. At $73,700 you could buy a base model of the 503 horsepower biturbo V8 C63 S Coupe that would reach 60 in a mere 3.8 seconds. It’s not the first time a Mercedes has come in over the top, but the near $17,000 is still a ton to tack on. Still, buyers can control that with their buying decisions.
Overall, the week with the C43 AMG was the incredible blast I knew it would be on day one. The sound had me running around either 100% on the gas, or 100% on the brake. Anything to just hear the symphony again. By the end of the week, my wife was thoroughly annoyed by the sheer noise, but I did not care. The numbers might be a little smaller on the C43, but it has not lost the edge that makes an AMG great.