Welcome to “The Fast Lane,” the Highlander’s very own section dedicated to cars. In this section, I’ll be giving my own personal experiences behind the wheel of the latests cars and trucks that will be hitting the market. Cars are a huge part of our lives as students and can be an extension of one’s personality. Buying a car can be a complicated process and with several options in front of you, it’s easy to make a wrong decision without having enough knowledge on the automobiles available. I’ll be writing reviews on cars from different price ranges and offering perspectives on factors related to both buying and owning a car.
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The current generation C-Class has been with us for nearly two years and has been one of the best cars in its class. The last generation C-Class lacked certain qualities one expects from a Mercedes-Benz and made you feel like you were sitting in the cheapest car in their lineup. So when Mercedes went back to the drawing board, they drew inspiration from the best car in their lineup: The S-Class. That inspiration is very noticeable from both inside and out where the C-Class bears a strong resemblance to the S-Class.
Apart from fixing the C-Class’ obvious shortcomings with its styling and interior, Mercedes sought to outperform its rivals in the performance department. AMG is Mercedes’ in-house tuner and has created flashy high-powered machines for Mercedes for the better part of nearly the last three decades. In order to bring the AMG feel at a more accessible price, Mercedes has added the AMG 43 model to several models in its lineup such as the C-Class. The AMG C43 is supposed to capture the styling, dynamics and feel of its V8 brother — the AMG C63 — with a smaller Twin-Turbo V6 and for $13,000 less.
The AMG C43 is powered by a 3.0 liter Twin-Turbo V6 producing 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque with power being delivered through Mercedes’ new nine-speed automatic transmission. On hard acceleration, the C43 feels like it has plenty of power. What’s even better is that AMG has managed to give this V6 a great soundtrack. It still has all the rumbles and pops that give great character and enjoyment to their V8 and V12 engines. The nine-speed transmission does a good job of keeping the revs low at highway speeds for better fuel economy and still manages to have fast smooth shifts when you put your foot down.
The C43 comes with five adjustable driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Dynamic. Comfort, Sport and Sport+ all adjust the suspension settings of the car. In Comfort, the car feels just as comfortable as the standard C300 which has an exceptional ride. Putting the car in Sport+ will make the ride harsher but will make the steering faster, more precise and more weighted with speed. The C43 comes standard with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive, provides fantastic traction and helps the car feel planted at higher speed in the corners.
The interior is where the C43 outshines its competition. The materials and switches were borrowed from the S-Class luxury sedan and feel far more premium than what one would expect at this price point. It’s easy to get comfortable in the bucket seats which provide great bolstering and s
pport. The only gripe is that it doesn’t come standard with leather but rather a synthetic leather like material made by Mercedes. Mercedes’ COMAND infotainment system is somewhat user-friendly. However, the screen size feels to be a bit small considering how wide the bezels are. In the back, the C43 comes with decent head and legroom and you can fit three adults in there if they’re not too tall.
Although the car is more reminiscent of the C300 than the C63, the C43 doesn’t defame the AMG name and still provides ample thrill to the driver.
Behind the wheel, I found the AMG C43 to feel relatively similar to the C300. In comfort mode, the ride quality and steering feel was parallel to the C300 but put it into Sport+ and having the feel of a different car. The sharper and more precise handling paired with the more weighted steering made the city drive more interesting yet the car still feels less engaging than some of its competitors like the BMW 340i. The 4Matic all-wheel drive system provided plenty of extra traction to keep the car planted despite the wet road conditions. Although the ride quality was more firm in the Sport+ setting, it still absorbed all the imperfections in the road better than most cars in this class. The C43 feels properly quick off the line as well, with little turbo lag and a great soundtrack from the exhaust. Mercedes says it will do 0-60 in about 4.6 seconds, which is about average for the class. Sitting in the cockpit, I found myself at home in the C43’s comfortable seats and spacious driving position. The simple layout of the controls made them and the infotainment system easy to use although I found the infotainment screen a bit small. The model I tested came relatively sparsely equipped with technology for the price (as-tested price was $57,040) especially when most of the C43’s competitors can be had fully loaded at just under $60,000.
The main question raised here is: How close does the AMG C43 feel to the more powerful and sporty AMG C63? From a styling perspective, the AMG C43 looks a lot more conservative for an AMG car and actually holds very subtle aesthetic changes from the standard C300. And while the Twin-Turbo V6 is more than competent, it’s nowhere near as fun as the Twin-Turbo V8 used in the C63. Despite the $13,000 price gap, the C43 doesn’t come standard with leather upholstery and navigation and the only paint options that don’t cost extra are non-metallic black and white. By the time you reasonably option the C43, the price pushes deep into the $60,000 range and right up against C63 territory. It’s worth noting that C43 isn’t just a C63 minus the V8 but rather a more mild upgrade to the C300.
Overall, the C43 does a great job of bridging the gap between the C300 and C63, providing buyers with the comfort and luxury of the C300 with some thrill and dynamics from the C63. Although the car is more reminiscent of the C300 than the C63, the C43 doesn’t defame the AMG name and still provides ample thrill to the driver. Compared to its competition, the C43 is rather pricy but few other models as close to engineering such a well-balanced machine … for the time being at least.
Chief Competitors: BMW 340i, Audi S4, Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, Jaguar XE S, Volvo S60 Polestar
|Powertrain & Chassis (5)||Interior/Exterior
|Acceleration||4.5||Front Seat Comfort/Space||4|
|Transmission||4||Rear Seat Comfort/Space||4|
|Fuel Economy||3.5||Cargo Space||3.5|
|Steering Feel & Handling||4.5||Fit and Finish||3.5|
|Engine||3.0-liter twin-turbo-charged DOHC 24-valve V6|
|Transmission||9-speed automatic with manual shifting|
|Horsepower||362 hp @ 6000 rpm|
|Torque||384 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm|
|Top Speed||130 mph|
|Fuel Economy||21 city 28 highway|
The car used in this review was provided courtesy by Matt Nouri of Walter’s Mercedes-Benz of Riverside.
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