Ok, so bitter/sweet phone calls are part of life but when Mercedes NZ called to say that they had to cancel the new C200 they had me booked in to review I have to say I felt a little deflated, however, this dismay was short lived as they quickly informed me that my seat time was being transferred to the C43 AMG, oh go on then!
Much has been said about the Mercedes C-Class throughout its 25-years of production and this medium-sized executive vehicle has proven to be (quite rightly), one, if not the, most successful model series for them. Through five generations, the Mercedes C-Class has continued to evolve and improve and although the new 2018 Mercedes C-Class can be technically deemed a ‘facelift’, nearly half of its components (6500) have been changed, so it’s hardly what you’d call a cosmetic touch-up.
On the outside, much of the attention for the C-Class has been paid to its front end plus it now has clear-line contoured head and tail lights. My Selenite Metallic Grey Mercedes-AMG C 43 model came with a new AMG radiator grille in a twin-louvre design, Multibeam LED headlights featuring 84 LEDs and a long-range high-beam that illuminates the road up to 650 metres ahead, dominant front and rear aprons and round twin tailpipe trims, oh and let’s not forget the wind-tunnel optimised AMG 19-inch 5 Twin-Spoke Alloy Wheels.
The electronic architecture of the new C-Class is completely new with a 48V on-board network. This new power option opens up a new world of drivetrain and technical wizardry including a 12.3-inch digital instrument display alongside a 10.25-inch media display, which can be configured in three visually distinctive themes (Classic, Sport and Progressive) and a 48V/EQ boost combination that makes the C200’s new 1.5L engine smoother, more powerful and more efficient – I’ll get to what was under my bonnet in a moment
Open-pore wood and leather fill the cabin with modern luxury and with the C43 AMG, Performance seats (that are very firm), sports trim, a panoramic glass roof, and a new generation AMG Nappa steering wheel with integrated touchpads for instrument cluster and infotainment thumb control and direct access to the vehicles driving modes – Comfort, Sport, Sport +, Individual and for the first time ‘Slippery’. However, to be quite frank, I used comfort for a short while and then spent the remainder of my time in Sport +.
To me, Sport + unleashes the reason that you’d opt for the C43 AMG in the first place – the engine. The numbers that surround the updated version of the AMG 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 engine are one thing (287kW and 520Nm) but when married to the ultra smooth AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G automatic transmission and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive you get from 0 to 100 kph in just 4.7 seconds with (almost just as importantly) a fierce engine note and a turbo-popping tune up and down the rev range – it’s addictive as chilli chocolate and comes with a similar bite.
The C43 AMG feels like a sports car in both the way it handles and the rawness the powertrain delivers as the revs increase. The suspension is AMG hard and steering is reassuringly tight, but this sedan is not left wanting in technology and refinement either. The head-up display is bright and clear, offering your choice of information and even includes traffic sign recognition. It’s got wireless charging for your smartphone, Apple and Android connectivity and a powerful stereo. The Safety systems and driver’s aids are extensive, from the DISTRONIC adaptive cruise control that has now increased its ‘stationary traffic’ wait time to 30 seconds, to its Active Park and Active lane assists, it even has a glide mode making it more fuel efficient on motorway driving (9.4L/100km combined). I could obviously go on and on here.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a mixture of executive refinement with a touch of rascal and although there’s still the AMG C63 up their sleeve, the 2018 AMG C43 that I played with was hardly what you’d call lacking in any department. Over and above the newly ‘refreshed’ C class, the C43 adds in plenty of smarts, AMG sportscar pedigree and a lot more muscle, essentially taking upper-class ‘up a class’.