Tuesday, August 13, 2019


The C-Class has served as a introductory model for Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts since its debut as a “baby Benz” sedan in the early 1990s.

It has grown up considerably since then, however, and there is nothing “baby” about the AMG C43 Cabriolet I recently had the pleasure of driving for a week, from the performance, to the luxury, and yes, to the price tag.

Can you envision a C-Class that starts in the $60,000 range and nearly reaches $80,000 when fully equipped?

That’s quite a jump from the base C-Class Cab that starts at just a couple of notches over the $50,000 mark but it is what often happens when the folks who labor in the company’s AMG workshops get done with their tinkering.

AMG versions of Mercedes models are not really for those who only care about getting from Point A to Point B. They are for those who look forward to the ride itself!

It starts under the hood, where AMG has pumped up the 3.0-liter bi-turbo V6 to 385 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, big steps up from the 255 hp and 234 lb.-ft. the turbo-4 in the C300 Cabriolet delivers.

Mated with a 9-speed automatic transmission, the V6 scoots the C43 from zero-to-60 mph in under 5.0 seconds with fuel numbers of 18 miles-per-gallon city, 25 highway, 21 combined.

Driving modes include Comfort, Sport, Sport-Plus, and Individual, and if you want more sound from the dual exhaust, you can push a button on the console to get that, too. Sport-Plus mode disengages the stop/start system as well as stiffening the suspension and increasing throttle response.

In fact, the increased throttle response almost can be a bit too aggressive at times, especially considering that even in Comfort the C43 gets off the line quickly.

The interior is impeccable with lots of leather, natural grain wood, and brushed aluminum throughout. The triple-layer, acoustic soft top gives the C43 a quiet ride, more like of hardtop quality than a typical soft top. When riding with the top down in chillier temperatures, the Airscarf system and heated seats keeps things comfortable.

With South Florida’s summer temperatures, the optional ventilated seats and an A/C set on high are more appreciated than the Airscarf!

That roof, incidentally, raises and lowers in about 20 seconds, and you can do it at speeds up to 30 mph, a handy feature if a sudden shower appears and you can’t pull over.

Among standard features for the base MSRP of $64,645 (including destination and delivery) are a Burmester surround-sound audio system, push-button start, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, dual zone climate control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a 10.25-inch display screen for infotainment features that operate with a central controller or touchpad (both on the center console) and Bluetooth connectivity.

The AMG, flat-bottom performance steering wheel is included in the base price, but other AMG-inspired touches like performance exhaust, carbon fiber rear spoiler, and illuminated door sills plus packages that include navigation and safety features like lane-keeping assist, active blind spot detection,, etc. are options.

Thus the total for my test drive model came to $78,105.

What I liked about the 2019 AMG C43 Cabriolet: In a word, everything. The AMG version of Mercedes-Benz’ so-called “entry level” convertible offers the highest level in performance and comfort features for a superb motoring experiences for both driver and passenger. The interior oozes luxury touches. You don’t have to be at a standstill to lower or raise the soft top.

What I didn’t like about the 2019 AMG C43 Cabriolet: The trunk is small, though I was able to slide in two beach chairs and an umbrella and still ride with the top down. The COMAND system to operate infotainment features can be very distracting. Much of the really good stuff is only available as options that can add nearly $15,000 to the starting MSRP. The backseat is practically useless.

Would I buy the 2019 AMG C43 Cabriolet? If cost was not an issue, sure. But if it was, I would find nearly just as much happiness in the basic C300 Cabriolet.

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