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Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe 2019 review

EXPERT RATING
8.3
Mercedes-AMG makes no bones about the fact that it wants to conquer the performance car world, and the C 43 is the car that kicked off a new model arms race at the three-pointed star's in-house hot rod shop.

In launching the C 43 range in 2016 Mercedes-AMG chairman, Tobias Moers laid down a crystal-clear manifesto for the three-pointed star’s performance brand.

“Dynamic growth characterises the corporate philosophy of Mercedes-AMG. A key component is the continual extension of the product range to include all-new models,” he boldly proclaimed.

The sub-text here is that arch rivals Audi, BMW and Porsche have lots of performance model derivatives, and sell lots of them, in lots of countries. And true to his word, Moers has overseen the emergence of a proliferation of AMG variants across sedans, coupes, wagons, SUVs, 4WDs and the GT flagship.

But the C 43 was the one that really got the ball rolling. Offering a ‘Goldilocks’ sweet-spot between top-end Mercedes-Benz C-Class models and the fire-breathing, twin-turbo V8 C 63 S.

It’s fast, but not brutally so. Tuned for dynamic response, but not at the expense of day-to-day civility. And last year it was upgraded with aesthetic tweaks inside and out, plus – you guessed it – more power.

We grabbed the sleek coupe version to see if the C 43 has maintained its poise, polish and performance.

Mercedes-Benz C43 2019: (base)
Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency9.5L/100km
Seating4 seats
Price from$97,900

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

The current (C205) version of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe is a familiar sight, but the C 43 beefs up its image with a distinctive ‘twin-louvre’ grille design finished in ‘Matt Iridium Silver’, additional fins in the nose air intakes, and ‘air curtain’ vents either side of the front apron to help smooth airflow around the front corners and sides of the car.

Fat side skirts stretch between the wheelarches, and unique aero-optimised 19-inch AMG alloy rims, shod with high-performance Dunlop Sport Maxx RT rubber, fill the guards front and rear. Big four-piston AMG brake calipers at the front, sitting on ventilated and cross-drilled rotors, add an air of motorsport machismo (although relatively modest single-piston floating calipers at the rear sit in stark contrast).

  • The current C-Class coupe is a familiar sight, but the C 43 beefs it up with fins in the air intakes and ‘air curtain’ vents. The current C-Class coupe is a familiar sight, but the C 43 beefs it up with fins in the air intakes and ‘air curtain’ vents.
  • The rear view dials up the muscle with an impressively deep diffuser and a body-coloured lip spoiler. The rear view dials up the muscle with an impressively deep diffuser and a body-coloured lip spoiler.

The rear view dials up the muscle with black chrome dual exhaust outlets sitting either side of an impressively deep diffuser, with a body-coloured lip spoiler neatly following the rear edge of the bootlid.

The standard ‘Night Package’ blacks out various exterior elements including the mirror shells, shoulderlines (just below the side windows) and the window weatherstrips.

Open the door and you’re staring at the physical definition of sports-luxury. The sculptural ‘AMG Performance’ front seats combine leather with brushed aluminium highlights and red contrast stitching to dramatic effect. But over and above their stunning looks they incorporate neatly contoured side bolsters in the cushion and backrest, the latter adjustable via built-in air cushions. What’s more, they’re heated and ventilated (in three stages).

Unique aero-optimised 19-inch AMG alloy rims fill the guards front and rear. Unique aero-optimised 19-inch AMG alloy rims fill the guards front and rear.

But there’s plenty more high-quality hide where that came from, with precisely stitched leather splashed around the console, dash and doors, in combination with Merc’s ‘Dinamica’ faux suede material on the new design, flat-bottom sports steering wheel.

The overall look is cool, precise and top-shelf premium; the only interruption being a 10.3-inch media display screen sitting somewhat awkwardly above the trio of central air vents at the top of the centre stack. A second 12.3-inch digital screen sits inside a simple instrument binnacle.

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

The C 43 is a text book 2+2, with ample room and comfort provided for front seat occupants, and decidedly cramped ‘occasional’ space available for what better be kids in the back. I folded my 183cm self into the modest rear seat, and while head and legroom were tolerable, I wouldn’t want to be in there for more than a short journey.

Two generous cupholders sit in a lidded storage compartment in the centre console, also home to a wireless charging bay for mobile devices and a USB port for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. There’s a medium-size glove box, and an additional double door cubby sits between the front seats, where two power-only USB jacks, a 12-volt outlet and an SD slot live.

The rear offers slim outer armrests, with oddments trays below, and a pair of cupholders between the seats. A pair of adjustable air vents (with 12-volt outlet below) gets a big tick.

  • The C 43 is a text book 2+2, with ample room and comfort provided for front seat occupants... The C 43 is a text book 2+2, with ample room and comfort provided for front seat occupants...
  • ...and decidedly cramped ‘occasional’ space available for what better be kids in the back. ...and decidedly cramped ‘occasional’ space available for what better be kids in the back.
  • Boot capacity is an eye-opener with exactly 400 litres on offer. Boot capacity is an eye-opener with exactly 400 litres on offer.
  • The boot was enough to swallow the CarsGuide pram... The boot was enough to swallow the CarsGuide pram...
  • ...or our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres) with ease. ...or our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres) with ease.
  • Lift the boot lid and you’ll be confronted with a repair/inflator kit. Lift the boot lid and you’ll be confronted with a repair/inflator kit.
  • Four fluoro emergency vests and a cargo net are netted behind the passenger side wheel tub. Four fluoro emergency vests and a cargo net are netted behind the passenger side wheel tub.

Boot capacity is an eye-opener with exactly 400 litres (VDA) on offer. Enough to swallow our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres) or the CarsGuide pram with ease. Easy to reach handles at the top of the boot aperture release the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat backrest to liberate even more space.

There’s a netted pocket behind the passenger side wheel tub containing four fluoro emergency vests and a cargo net (there are location hooks in the boot floor). Then lift the lid on what might otherwise be the spare wheel well, and you’ll be confronted with a repair/inflator kit.

If you’re into boats, vans or other trailer type devices, take note, towing is an AMG no-go zone.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   9/10

Cross the six-figure threshold for a sparkling new Merc-AMG and you’re quite rightly expecting a basket full of luxury inclusions, safety tech and performance features. And sure enough, $112,600 (before on-road costs) is the asking price for the C 43 Coupe.

That puts you in the same general specification and performance territory as the Audi S5 Coupe ($105,600) and BMW 440i Coupe ($95,352), with Porsche’s 718 Cayman ($119,890) offering a more focused, two-seat only alternative.

  • Cross the six-figure threshold and you’re quite rightly expecting a basket full of standard inclusions. Cross the six-figure threshold and you’re quite rightly expecting a basket full of standard inclusions.
  •  The C 43 comes with a 10.3-inch media display, DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and sat nav. The C 43 comes with a 10.3-inch media display, DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and sat nav.
  • The 'Comand' multimedia system features various functions that offer real-time power and torque outputs... The 'Comand' multimedia system features various functions that offer real-time power and torque outputs...
  • ...as well as g-force, yaw, and pedal pressure data. ...as well as g-force, yaw, and pedal pressure data.
  • The multimedia system is controlled by a four-way rotating dial and touchpad. The multimedia system is controlled by a four-way rotating dial and touchpad.

We’ll cover safety tech - active and passive - in its own section below but suffice it to say there’s plenty of it; which leaves luxury and performance.

Black ink flows freely on the luxury side of the ledger, with the following laundry list included as standard: leather upholstery, a 10.3-inch media display, DAB+ digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity (with audio streaming and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay), wireless charging for mobile devices, ‘Comand’ online navigation and multimedia, Burmester ‘surround sound’ audio (13 speakers, nine-channel DSP amp and 590-watt output), dual-zone climate control air, black ash open-pore wood/aluminium interior trim, panoramic glass sliding sunroof (with electric roller sunblind), electrically adjustable and heated front seats (with memories and four-way electro-pneumatic lumbar support), ambient interior lighting (64 colours), illuminated ‘AMG’ door sill panels, keyless entry and start, privacy glass (dark-tinted from B-pillar to rear), power boot closing, and metallic paint.

Then, aside from twin-turbo V6 power, a nine-speed dual-clutch auto transmission, and ‘4Matic’ all-wheel drive, specific performance elements include: ‘Dynamic Select’ (five driving modes), ‘AMG Ride-Control’ sports suspension, ‘AMG speed-sensitive’ sports steering, ‘AMG Performance’ steering wheel (nappa leather with flat bottom), 19-inch ‘AMG 5 Twin-Spoke’ alloy rims, ‘Multibeam’ hi-def LED auto headlights (with adaptive low and high beam), 12.3-inch digital instrument display, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control (with ‘Speedtronic’ variable speed limiter), sports exhaust, a head-up display and an ‘AMG sports pedal cluster’ (brushed stainless steel faces with rubber studs).

  • The car's panoramic glass sliding sunroof features an electric roller sunblind. The car's panoramic glass sliding sunroof features an electric roller sunblind.
  • The standard four-way electro-pneumatic seats can be heated in three stages. The standard four-way electro-pneumatic seats can be heated in three stages.
  • The C43 features wireless charging as standard. The C43 features wireless charging as standard.
  • On top of the ambient interior lighting, the C 43 features illuminated 'AMG' door sill panels. On top of the ambient interior lighting, the C 43 features illuminated 'AMG' door sill panels.

Our test example was also fitted with the optional ‘Performance Ergonomic Package’ ($5400) which consists of the AMG performance front seats, AMG performance exhaust, and AMG performance steering wheel (trimmed in black nappa leather and ‘Dinamica’ microfibre).

In this part of the market, that much ‘stuff’ in a high-quality, high-performance coupe package priced under $115k (MRLP) is a relative bargain.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   9/10

Identified by the red aluminium insert in its cover, the 3.0-litre (M276) V6 twin-turbo engine is a 60-degree, all-alloy unit featuring direct-injection and twin (sequential) turbos incorporated in the exhaust manifolds.

Although not built and signed-off by a single AMG engineer (as engines further up the AMG performance food chain are), it’s part of Mercedes-Benz’s ‘BlueDIRECT’ engine family and benefits from Benz’s ‘Nanoslide’ coating process.

This means iron-carbon wires are melted and sprayed onto the walls of the sleeveless cylinders to form a thin, porous iron surface to improve oil retention and save weight (no cast iron liners).

The 287kW/520Nm outputs are dialed to the wheels in a 31/69 front to rear split. The 287kW/520Nm outputs are dialed to the wheels in a 31/69 front to rear split.

Bigger turbos and higher boost pressure, introduced early in 2018, lift peak power to 287kW at 6100rpm with maximum torque of 520Nm (available from 2500-5000rpm) unchanged.

As the name implies the ‘AMG Speedshift TCT 9G’ transmission is a nine-speed dual-clutch auto. It allows multiple downshifts with a prolonged pull of the shift paddle and spices up the aural entertainment with an ultra-smooth double-declutching function in ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport Plus’ (transmission) modes.

Drive goes to all four wheels, with the 4Matic system’s single stage transfer case dialling in a 31/69 front to rear torque split.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 9.5L/100km, the 3.0-litre V6 emitting 217g/km of CO2 in the process. That’s up from 8.2L/100km and 188g/km prior to 2018’s engine performance upgrades.

An ’Eco’ start-stop function is standard, and you’ll need 66 litres of 98 RON premium unleaded to fill the tank.

Over roughly 300km of city, suburban and freeway running we recorded an average of 13.7L/100 (at the bowser), which is passable given we dipped into the C 43’s performance potential on a regular basis.

What's it like to drive?   9/10

Any road car boasting a sub-five second 0-100km/h acceleration time is quick, and Merc-AMG claims the C 43 will hit triple figures in exactly 4.7sec. Sure, that’s some way off the full-fat C 63 S Coupe’s 3.9sec blast, but this car is all about hitting the performance-refinement sweet spot.

That said, the engine sounds like a guard dog snarling at the end of a chain, and pressing the console-mounted ‘louder’ button on our test car’s optional AMG performance exhaust system would have 99.99 per cent of punters swearing the guttural bellow coming from it was produced by a V8.

The steering is electro-mechanically assisted and despite all the gee-whizzery road feel is good. The steering is electro-mechanically assisted and despite all the gee-whizzery road feel is good.

With all 520Nm on tap from 2500rpm right up to 5000rpm, the mid-range is a petrolhead’s playground, with the nine-speed auto (especially in Dynamic mode) keeping things on the boil beautifully. Sink the slipper into that rich pool of torque at any speed and forward progress builds with satisfying ease.

Yes, there are dual-clutch transmissions that will pluck gears faster, but the Speedshift TCT lives up to its name, with the wheel-mounted paddles delivering rapid and positive shifts up and down the ratios, while the racy multiple downshift mode is all kinds of F1-style fun.

The optional AMG performance front seats feel as good as they look, the crystal-clear multi-screen digital instrument cluster enhances the sense of occasion, and gripping the flat-bottom sports steering wheel is like shaking hands with an old friend.

Despite the big 19-inch rims, the set-up provides surprisingly good ride quality in ‘Comfort’

Weighing in at around 1.7 tonnes, the C 43 isn’t exactly a lightweight, but at just under 4.7m long and a little over 1.8m wide, it’s relatively compact and feels firmly planted in ‘enthusiastic’ cornering.

Despite the big 19-inch rims and high-performance Dunlop Sport Maxx RT rubber (235/35 rear, 225/40 front) the ‘AMG Ride Control’ adaptive damping set-up provides surprisingly good ride quality in ‘Comfort’ mode, and buttons things down progressively through ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport+’.

Steering is electro-mechanically assisted, speed-sensitive, variable ratio, and despite all that gee-whizzery road feel is good.

The engine sounds like a guard dog snarling at the end of a chain. The engine sounds like a guard dog snarling at the end of a chain.

When going turns to slowing, the four-piston calipers up front sit on 360mm vented and cross-drilled rotors, and the single piston rears clamp vented 320mm discs. While we didn’t apply a track day torture test, during our time with the C 43 pedal feel was progressive and outright stopping power solid.

Overall, driving the C 43 is like an athlete dressed for business; slick and sophisticated on the outside, but you know it can light up and kick ass when required.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

3 years / unlimited km warranty

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   10/10

Stand by for an epic roll call of active and passive safety technology on-board the Mercedes-AMG C 43.

In terms of accident avoidance, the usual suspects - ABS, Brake Assist, ESP, ASR, and (passive) blind-spot monitoring – are all present and accounted for. Then you can add a 360-degree camera, complementing the ‘Active Parking Assist’ system with ‘Parktronic’ ultrasonic sensors (front and rear).

The standard ‘Driving Assistance Package Plus’ comprises, ‘Active Distance Assist with Distronic’ (active cruise control), ‘Active Brake Assist’ with cross-traffic function (Benz-speak for AEB), ‘Evasive Steering Assist’, ‘Active Blind Spot Assist’, ‘Active Lane Keeping Assist’, and ‘Active Lane Change Assist’.

‘Collision Prevention Assist Plus’ uses radar and cameras to detect a potential impact and optimise braking pressure relative to speed and distance or apply full autonomous braking if things are getting really hairy.

‘Pre-Safe Plus’ can anticipate a rear-end collision, activating the hazard lights, belt tensioners, and hard brake.

‘Attention Assist’ keeps an eye on the driver for signs of drowsiness or “severe loss of attention” and politely (via visual and audible warnings) suggests they should take a break.

There’s also a tyre pressure monitoring system, ‘Adaptive Brake’ (predictive brake priming with hold function), brake drying (activated in parallel with the auto wipers using brake pads to gently sweep water off the disc rotors), ‘Hill Start Assist’ and ‘Traffic Sign Assist’.

But, if despite all of the above, a crash is unavoidable the airbag count runs to nine (front and combined pelvic/thorax bags for the driver and front passenger, side bags for rear occupants, window curtain bags, and a knee bag for the driver).

‘Pre-Safe Plus’ can anticipate a rear-end collision, activating the hazard lights and the standard ‘Pre-Safe’ system (belt tensioners and hard brake application). There’s also an active bonnet to minimise pedestrian injury, crash responsive emergency lighting, auto-locking doors with emergency opening, plus a first-aid kit and warning triangle in the boot (alongside those oh-so-chic fluoro safety vests).

There are ISOFIX child restraint/seat location points and top tether hooks for each rear seat location, and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class received a maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was assessed in July, 2014.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

Mercedes-Benz (and by extension Mercedes-AMG) offers a three-year/unlimited km warranty with 24-hour ‘Road Care’ emergency roadside assistance provided for three years.

Servicing is recommended every 12 months/25,000km (with on-board reminders from the ‘ASSYST’ maintenance interval indicator) and a capped price servicing plan is available at Silver and Platinum levels for up to five years/100,000km.

Verdict

The Mercedes-AMG C 43 is a superbly engineered performance coupe with an understated air of menace. It combines exceptional dynamic ability with leading-edge safety and top-shelf luxury. Goldilocks would feel right at home.

Does the Mercedes-AMG C 43 hit you in the sweet spot? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

Pricing Guides

$109,815
Based on 43 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$97,900
Highest Price
$129,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
(base) 3.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO $97,900 – 129,900 2019 Mercedes-Benz C43 2019 (base) Pricing and Specs
(base) 3.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO $97,900 – 129,900 2019 Mercedes-Benz C43 2019 (base) Pricing and Specs
(base) 3.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO $97,900 – 129,900 2019 Mercedes-Benz C43 2019 (base) Pricing and Specs
(base) 3.0L, PULP, 9 SP AUTO $97,900 – 129,900 2019 Mercedes-Benz C43 2019 (base) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8.3
Design8
Practicality7
Price and features9
Engine & trans9
Fuel consumption7
Driving9
Safety10
Ownership7
James Cleary
Deputy Editor

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Pricing Guide

$98,800

Lowest price, based on 15 car listings in the last 6 months

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