Wednesday, August 9, 2017


The Mercedes-Benz C-Class often serves as an introduction to the luxury automotive class for many buyers. It is the company’s best-selling model and ranks high in its class in sales overall.

But not this C-Class.

Not the new AMG C43 Coupe.

This is a C-Class in another, well, class.

The AMG should be your tipoff here. Those initials get the juices flowing for any performance enthusiast.

Basically, it means engineers from what used to be a separate company but now is a division of Mercedes-Benz have tuned this vehicle for the ultimate in driving exhilaration with a more powerful engine, a fine-tuned 9-speed automatic transmission, sport-tuned suspension, and a more muscular exterior appearance with special design touches.

Not your standard C-Class, for sure.

The C43 is a new designation for 2017, replacing what was last year’s AMG C450 with a new biturbo V6 engine rated at 362 horsepower and sending 384 pound-feet of peak torque to all four wheels via Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system (69 percent to the rear wheels).

You can select gears yourself via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters or switch modes from C (Comfort) to S (Sport) or S+ (Sport Plus) and let the 9G-Tronic transmission do the work for you. Sport and Sport-plus ups the performance level with Sport-plus adjusting exhaust flaps for a sweet-sounding throaty growl.

A company release defined Sport-plus this way: partial cylinder suppression during full-throttle gear changes by means of a precisely defined delay in both ignition timing and fuel injection allows for faster and more audible gear changes.

In short, more bang for your buck.

The AMG C43 Coupe also features an ECO mode and an automatic stop/start function for the fuel-conscious. EPA figures are 20 miles-per-gallon city, 28 highway for a respectable 23 mpg combined considering all that power.

The interior of the AMG C43 Coupe is exquisite. The sport seats give plenty of lateral support, and the red stitching around the seats and doors and across the dash is an eye-pleasing touch. Even the floor mats get a border of red stitching.

Standard equipment covered on the $55,500 base MSRP for the 2017 AMG C43 includes the paddle shifters, a trunk spoiler, heated power-adjustable front seats with lumbar support, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, automatic LED headlamps with twilight sensor and locator lighting, front seat belt presenters (a thoughtful touch that means you don’t have to twist around awkwardly to secure them), a rearview camera, and blind sport and collision prevention systems.

LED daytime running and taillights also are standard.

Optional packages, like high-performance tires and exhaust system, a head-up display giving the driver his speed, rpm level, and gear (assuming the driver is not wearing polarized sunglasses), COMAND navigation and voice control, parking assist, and surround-view camera, plus other AMG design touches and the $995 destination and delivery charge, ran my test vehicle up to $66,496.

That’s a pretty hefty hike over the C300 Coupe with its starting price of $42,650.

The AMG C43 also comes as a Cabriolet starting at $60,400.

That’s just another sign the AMR C43 is no ordinary C-Class.

What I liked about the AMG C43 Coupe: The styling is beautiful, and the performance matches. A manual transmission might add to the fun, but running in Sport-Plus is not a bad substitute. Access to the backseat isn’t bad as the front seats slide forward to provide a bigger gap. Of course, there’s not a lot of room once you get back there — only 32 inches of legroom, but that’s not unusual for its genre.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 AMG C43 Coupe: You might think that with as many engineers and designers that they have at their disposal that Mercedes might come up with a better way of incorporating the display screen for the COMAND system into the dash. As it is, it sticks up like (as I’ve said somewhere before) somebody just stuck an iPad above the center stack. I’ve gotten the hang of operating the COMAND system using the knob on the center console to select various functions on the screen, but I still think it needs to be dumbed down a bit. Sometimes you have to take your eyes off the road to make sure you are getting to the right place.

Would I buy the 2017 AMG C43 Coupe? For sure! South Florida Media members judging convertibles at this year’s annual Topless in Miami Presented by Haartz convertible competition liked the AMG C63 S, which comes with a Biturbo V8 (503 hp, 516 lb.-ft. of torque) well enough to score it the winner in its class. It starts at almost $81,000, so you can save a lot with the C43 Coupe or Convertible if you’re willing to give up a half-second on your zero-to-60 time (4.6 seconds with the AMG C43).


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