No premium car in the world is crunching its opposition like the C-Class and now AMG has moved to make its entry-level version of the big-selling Benz even quicker.
It has fattened up the power from the twin-turbocharged 3.0l V6 engine, slashed its acceleration times, added a new generation of steering wheel and even tried its hand at making it better looking.
Available later this year, the Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic now scores another 17kW of power to lift it to 287kW at 6,100r/min, while it still delivers 520Nm of torque from 2,500-5,000r/min.
AMG claims the sedan will hit 100km/h in 4.7 seconds. The wagon is rather quick too, but Mercedes SA has no plans to bring it here.
It has eked out its extra power claims largely through a pair of bigger turbochargers, now capable of a maximum of 1.1 bar of pressure.
While the AMG versions of this engine have unique red aluminium inserts and an AMG badge on the engine cover, it’s still built on a Mercedes-Benz production line and sidesteps around the Affalterbach concern’s one-person-one-engine philosophy.
Mercedes-AMG also claims the shift times from the TCE 9G nine-speed automatic transmission are now quicker, thanks mostly to software upgrades. But it gets better than that for hard-core drivers.
The transmission now scores a multiple downshift function, allowing it to change down more than one gear if the driver holds the steering wheel-mounted downshift paddle. It gets better, though.
FIRST GEAR START
The AMG team has delivered a driver’s package heaven by making the C43 start in first gear all the time (the old one often moved off in second) for better punch and it now takes manual mode more literally. The transmission holds each selected gear in manual mode even if the engine hits its rev limiter, refusing to shift up like many other cars do.
"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," Mercedes-AMG chairman Tobias Moers explains. "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. 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," he says.
That’s all well and good, but the implication inherent in that last sentence is that it wasn’t a car AMG exactly poured its heart and soul into. Because it wasn’t, forced upon Moers by his predecessor and now Daimler board member Ola Källenius.
It retains its all-wheel driver system, with a strong bias towards punching as much drive as it can towards the rear axle, with a standard split of 69% to the rear. It rides on AMG’s ride control suspension, effectively steel springs supported by active dampers, controlling the four-link front and five-link rear suspension systems.
It sits on 225/45 R18 front tyres with 245/40 R18s supporting the rear, though AMG can grow that out to 225/40 R19 and 255/35 R19 for a fee.
The driving mode buttons have been augmented with a new, fifth mode: Slippery, for snow and ice, while there’s a single-touch manual button to switch into manual mode. There is a variable-ratio electromechanical power steering system to aim it all, lowering its power assistance as the speeds rise.
For performance-minded drivers, the C43 uses the AMG Track Pace data logger to collate their racetrack efforts, acting as a "virtual race engineer" and recording speed and acceleration data 10 times a second, plus lap and sector times.
It also lights up green or red to show drivers quickly whether they are faster or slower than their own best times, while it can record a driver’s preferred circuits to add to the maps it already knows (like the Nurburgring Nordschleife).
With more power and bigger turbos, the C43 AMG uses a claimed 9.1l/100km and emits 209g of CO2 in its sedan form.
It’s also fronted by a new two-louvre AMG grille, finished by two exhaust tips and in the middle its interior is highlighted by the new C-Class’s top-end fully digital instrument cluster.
The 12.3-inch screen of the optional fully digital cockpit can switch between Classic, Sport or Supersport designs, while it now uses touchpads on the flat-bottomed steering wheel to navigate around the instrument cluster.
The standard multimedia screen remains seven inches, though a 10.25-inch optional unit also delivers almost twice the resolution.