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The thrill of driving has taken me around the world to discover the best cars, roads and experiences. My aim is to share them with you.

Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic

Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic

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A less manic but still impressive C-Class AMG could be the thinking man’s muscle car

They say you can’t be too thin or too rich but evidently there can be too much of a good thing these days. Have we reached a point in evolution where we are better off with less than we think we actually need?

It might be theoretically possible for example, to build a smartphone with a double quad core processor and 4k display and 64-bit digital audio converter but it’s going to have the shortest battery life and the heat it would generate would literally burn a hole in your pocket… Besides, if you’re only going to use it to watch YouTube videos, the four or six-inch screen simply isn’t big enough to display all those pixels, the tiny on-board speakers will never do the sound processor justice, and streaming a 4k video on the go won’t be doing your mobile data plan any favours.

Similarly when it comes to cars, Ferrari will have unveiled its 800hp 812 Superfast at the Geneva Motor Show by the time you read this. Personally having driven its predecessor, the F12, which made 70hp less, having this much power going through just the rear wheels was only possible with electronic intervention managing the output to make it driveable. When it rains, as it did on my test drive, “Forget about it,” as a wise guy might be apt to say. The instrument display lights up like a Christmas tree and the power delivery cuts in with more abruptness than a Trump immigration policy.

Granted, the 509hp output of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S is not as excessive although the car’s suspension and gearbox is designed as if its driver was going to redline the bi-turbo V8 in every gear and drive it on the track more than the road. God bless you if you’re fortunate enough to fall in this category but this extreme setup makes it impossible to relax in when you’re in the mood for some pampering.

In many ways, the Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic tested here has a greater breadth of talent than its more powerful brother. With two less cylinders, its 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 ‘only’ 367hp and the power is sent to all four wheels rather than just the rear.

There’s still plenty of oomph to get you in all kinds of trouble if you’re foolish, but keen drivers will appreciate being able to utilise all this power without succumbing to electronic intervention unless it is driven in extremis.

‘I might request the dealer to badge it as a C 180 and wait to catch the surprised reactions in the rear view mirror…’

The C 43’s bi-turbo V6 might lack the crackle and pop drama of the C 63’s full-fat blown V8, but smaller engine’s turbos snap to attention just as quickly to catapult car and driver towards the horizon from just 2,000rpm with no let up until 6,000rpm, by which time you would have slammed into the 250km/h electronically limited top speed.

If the C 43 and C 63 were driven together, the lesser car would have no problem being every bit as quick. The less savage power deliver of the ’43 also means that its driver won’t have to be as hard on the brakes as the guy behind the wheel of the ’63.

When driven within the legal limits of public roads, the C 43 imparts a level of civility that makes this car much more versatile than the C63 as an everyday drive. The ride may still be on the firm side of a family car but it won’t shake your tooth fillings loose like the C 63 S will.

The C 43 is also more discretely styled than the C 63, which appeals to me as a Q-car. It reminds me of iconic Mercedes models like the W124 E 500 and first generation 190 E 2.3 Cosworth that I grew up admiring. They were the automotive equivalents of secret agents in Savile Row suits. If I were specifying mine, I might even request the dealer to badge it C 180 and wait to catch the surprised reactions in the rear view mirror…

It’s nice to see that Mercedes still makes cars like this to carry on this tradition while those looking for something more flamboyant are also catered for.

Best of all perhaps is the small matter of a $132,000 between the C 43 and C 63 S that makes the car tested here look like the smart money option.
By Sheldon Trollope

Specifications

Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic

Engine                   2,996cc V6 twin-turbochargers

CO2                        183/km

Power                    367hp @ 5,500-6,000rpm

Torque                  520Nm @ 2,000-4,200rpm

Transmission     9-speed automatic, 4WD

0-100 km/h         4.7 seconds (claimed)

Top Speed            250km/h (claimed)

Weight                  1,690kg

Basic Price          $322,888 with COE

Contact                 Mercedes-Benz Centre, 6298 1818

 Evo rating: 5 stars

+Just as fast but more useable than the full-fat C 63

- No engine plaque and lacks the V8 sound track

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