This ‘mid range’ AMG combines 385bhp with driverless tech. But is it wild enough?
‘AMG’. These three letters carry a lot of weight in the car world. What does it stand for, apart from something technical and German? Power, muscle, and racing heritage. AMG cars are the pinnacle of what Mercedes offers on road and track. Lewis Hamilton’s last four championships were won with an AMG badge stuck on his car.
If you want to overtake people, you buy an AMG. And this has been the case since the first one in 1989. But these days you can do so while swathed in luxury and surrounded by tech. Modern versions have it all, and the Mercedes-AMG C 43 is no exception. Im fact, it may be all the car you need.
What Is It?
AMG models aren’t as rare today as they once were. There’s even a hatchback the size of a Ford Focus available, which shocked purists with its lack of V8 and spacious boot. The C 43 is full bodied though, the blood red Malbec to the hatchback’s summery Sauvignon Blanc. But – and don’t tell anyone – it too lacks a V8. More on that shortly.
The C 43 is a sleek, elegant machine that hints at its potential speed rather than shouts about it. In coupe form, its elongated side profile contains a long door that shuts with an expensive ‘clunk’ revealing an interior full of cow, trees and machined metal. Lovely. Two small rear seats loom behind your shoulders like they’re asking you for more room. Ignore them. Extra interior space can be found in the five-door if you need it.
The C 43 is two cars in one. Leave it in ‘comfort’ mode and it glides along the road, efficiently changing up and down gears like a veteran chauffeur. And like a chauffeur, it will actually drive for you.
Push a button on the steering wheel and you’ll engage a number of ‘Active’ modes which, most effectively on the motorway, steer, accelerate, brake and change lanes for you. It’s incredibly unnerving the first time you indicate and the car switches lanes by itself at 70mph, but it’ll also make you giddy like a child tasting sweets for the first time. You’ll want to try it again and again.
Because of this, the car never feels truly manual. There’s a disconcerting feeling the robots might take over at any time and swerve you into oncoming traffic – it’s the perfect opening scene for a not-so-future dystopian sci-fi movie.
The car changes drastically when you select ‘Sport +’ mode. A valve in the exhaust opens up to reveal the gurgling bass of the 3.0-litre, twin turbo V6, which delivers instant acceleration and a hungry roar. Let’s hope the robots don’t find out.
Cars have come a long way in the last 20 years, which is why the C 43’s power output of 385bhp doesn’t seem like much. Two decades ago this was a supercar stat. It’s only 10bhp off the Ferrari 360 Modena, the Italian marque’s flagship supercar at the turn of the millennium. The 0-60mph time is the same, at 4.5 seconds.
So what we have is a seriously quick machine more than befitting of its AMG badge. That can drive and park itself. And has heated seats. And a top down camera that stares over the car like the original Grand Theft Auto. It’s a sports car, but it will also get you to work in utter comfort.
The C 43 is a looker, but a little subdued considering the three letters it proudly sports. It shouldn’t need the badge to be able to tell what it is. But some will like that somewhat stealthy quality.
The right pedal gives you access to more speed than anyone needs, with an exhaust note that delivers drama (and plenty of pops and bangs) with every gear change. It’s not scary quick, but it’s enough. A subdued supercar slayer? Not quite by today’s standards, but the way the C 43 combines its accessible, exciting speed and its incredible tech means nobody should care.
Top Speed: 155mph
Acceleration (0-60mph): 4.5 seconds
Price: From £50,010
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