First Drive

2017 Mercedes-AMG C 43 review, track drive

We take the new Mercedes-AMG C 43 around Buddh International Circuit to test its performance credentials.

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When you hear the word AMG in a Mercedes car name, you just know that car means business. AMG represents the high-performance division of Mercedes-Benz, and these cars truly are special. What we've got here is one of the smaller AMG models, the C 43 AMG. But, just because you see the word smaller, don't let that fool you, it's still part of the AMG line-up. This car is built with performance in mind, and perform it does. It will bridge the gap between the C 300 and the beastly C 63 AMG.

Even though it keeps the slimmer body of the regular C-class, its larger wheels, flared wheel arches, diamond-mesh grille, special cladding, and rear lip spoiler highlight the fact that this AMG means business. There are a few changes inside as well. There's red stitching on the matte black textile, and it gets microfibre sport seats. The seatbelts are red, the floor mats have red edges, and the instrument cluster gets a checkered-flag pattern. The aluminium trim on the dash defines this AMG's purpose.

The C 43 AMG gets the 3.0-litre, twin-turbo V-6 that puts down 367hp of power and 520Nm of torque. This is the same engine found in the E400. But, it is modified for performance duty with different turbochargers and AMG-specific tuning.

Compared with the C 300, it features a modified chassis setup with more negative wheel camber, a sports suspension setup with AMG Ride Control that allows for selectable three-stage adaptive variable damping, a sports-tuned steering system, and larger brakes.
Unlike the strictly rear-drive C 63, the C 43 is fitted with 4MATIC all-wheel drive, but its 69 percent rear torque bias means that this car is still immensely fun to drive.

Now even though the C 43 gets the smaller V6 engine, it still has that beastly AMG soundtrack. All the burbles and rumbles from the bigger AMG V8 engine seem to be slightly toned down, but they're still there, and it sounds as good as ever!

Of course, since we only got to test the car on the racetrack, all settings were kept on the sportiest mode possible, because anything lesser just wouldn't make sense in this situation. As expected, it carved up the track just effortlessly.

The steering is sharp and has great feedback. The car feels really planted around the track. It really allows you to choose your lines with utmost precision. Even though it may be less powerful than the C63 AMG, the power delivery is way more manageable; which consequently allows you to go faster around corners. And the brakes are just spectacular, you can brake late and deep into the corner and there's just absolutely no drama. This car really gives you the confidence to push it harder than you normally would.

So after a few quick laps around the circuit, the C 43 AMG really proved its intent. This is a car that encourages you to drive it hard, and the experience is really rewarding. Of course, since it will be coming in as an import, it does tip the scales with its pricing. It will cost Rs 74.35 (ex-showroom, Delhi). But if you're looking for a performance car, before you get into the bigger league, this could certainly be the car for you.

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Autocar Magazine

Issue: 209 | Autocar India: January 2017

We bring you drives of the Maruti Ignis, the Skoda Kodiaq, the new 5-series and take you on a trip from India to Paris in a Renault Kwid. All that and lots more inside!
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