THE AMGs are cars that are synonymous with top-tier performance from Mercedes-Benz.
The AMG C43 is the descendant of a long line of Mercedes sedans with a somewhat cult status, loved for their performances and venerated for their rarity among a sea of Mercedes-Benz production cars.
The C43 is a notch above the average 2.0-litre, four-cylinder C—class variety that you will typically see plying Malaysian roads in various states of tune, depending on variant. On the totem pole of the Mercedes family hierarchy, it sits only below the 4.0-litre V8 C63.
The C43 sold in Malaysia isn’t made in Affalterbach, the home of AMG, by a man named Jerome but rather is assembled in Pekan, Pahang, by someone likely to be named Ali, and for that — as well as the fact that each engine is not built by one man — Mercedes-Benz has omitted the signed AMG nameplate that usually graces the “true” AMGs.
The completely knocked down exercise has also trimmed more than RM90,000 off the price of the sports sedan, bringing it to RM421,888.
The C43 we tested received a facelift late last year and now sports a new twin-louvre AMG grille up front.
There are new circular tailpipes and a more pronounced diffuser at the rear.
The car rolls on 19-inch twinspoke AMG alloy wheels, shod with 225/40 tyres up front and 255/35 on the rear.
Inside, the updated C43 is equipped with a new 12.3-inch digital meter cluster with either the Classic, Sport or Supersport layouts.
The display can also be used to show a race timer or information such as engine data and G-force.
The mill that powers the C43 is a 3.0-litre biturbo hooked up to a nine-speed automatic and drive is sent to all wheels.
The V6 engine makes 385hp at 6,100rpm, and 520Nm of torque from 2,500rpm to 5,000 rpm. This is enough to propel the 1.7-tonne car to the century point in just 4.7 seconds, with a top speed limited to 250kph.
The 43-series engine is not hand assembled but is rather produced in a regular production line and installed at the Pekan plant. The power and torque is channelled via a 9GTronic auto box to all wheels, with a bias to the rear.
The 31:69 front-to-rear ratio gives the C43 perfect handling balance, which makes the car nothing short of brilliant to drive.
In a nutshell, the C43 is one of the best saloons you can drive out of a Mercedes-Benz showroom in Malaysia to date, provided you have a healthy bank balance, of course.
With its C-Class bones, it has been imbued with the virtues that have made Mercedes Benz compact saloons among the best-sellers in the premium market.
There is enough cabin space to travel in comfort and enough trunk space to go about daily life without the constraints of a typical sports car.
I mentioned sports car because that’s what it actually is, dressed up as an executive saloon. Drive the C43 sedately on your typical daily commute and you will be hard pressed to notice its potent abilities.
The C43 glides about in Kuala Lumpur traffic flawlessly, never betraying to the driver or passengers its alter ego.
It is plush and composed, with the level of refinement you can expect from the three-pointed star. It doesn’t judder over potholes or skitter over painted lines like many of its compatriots in the same segment, and for all intents and purposes, the C43 drives like any sensible sedan should.
This, however, all changes dramatically when you toggle the dynamic mode to Sport+ mode.
In this mode, the manic personality of the sports saloon is apparent as the car unleashes its “full stable of horses”.
The exhaust emits a sharp rasp that can only be honestly described as “addictive” and the transmission adopts an eager attitude, downshifting at the slightest provocation.
When floored, the C43 lurches forward like any true AMG should. Its century sprint may fall short of the full-blooded C63, which does the century sprint in 3.9 seconds, but it is well enough to satisfy all but the most ardent speed nut.
What strikes you immediately when you start to push is the excellent balance of the chassis. The C43’s handling will seduce you to push it to its limit on each outing.
Steering is neutral and precise. The chassis remains planted even when you throw the saloon about mid corner.
The C43 is so composed that you have no qualms about ripping it to indecent speeds.
The 4Matic all-wheel drive system keeps things under control, even when you are attacking corners at breakneck speed.
There isn’t the sense that you are constantly on the verge of losing control like in a C63. The C43 will amplify your talent, however miniscule, and keep you in check when you overstep it.
When you start to drive hard and fast, other traffic on the highway will become mere hindrances that stop you from enjoying the phenomenal pace that the saloon can achieve. The C43’s cruise-missile-like gait will swallow hundreds of kilometres without tiring you out.
Precise, stable yet surprisingly comfortable on the highway, the C43 takes the AMG formula and offers it in a package that is more accessible than ever before.
You might think that the startling performance of the C43 will return you miserable fuel consumption.
But on our drive from Kuala Lumpur to Johor Baru, the C43 sipped through just slightly over half a tank of fuel, an amazing feat considering the performance that the engine was delivering.
This is truly a car that will give you the cake and let you eat it. A car that will give hair-raising performance and yet be sensible enough to be used on a daily basis.