6,500 reasons to energize you!
"It has what it takes to stay up in this segment."
"One should literally add the price of the C 180 and C 300 to own an AMG C 63 S; so the placement definitely makes sense."
"Among all the new things, it’s definitely the AMG steering wheel that caught my attention" said Ershad.
"The overall ‘classic’ sedan shape along with the sporty attributes clearly tells you the story: that we are getting close to the all-time fun ride."
We recently took the ‘new’ 2019 Mercedes-AMG C 43 for a drive from Luxembourg City to the Moselle wine region of Germany and back. It was a jolly trek, as we drove through the old town of Luxembourg, the Moselle valley lined by vineyards, some breathtaking views of the river and finally the urban Kirchberg.
Now, where was I? Yes, the ‘new’ C- class. I would be lying if I held on to the ‘new’ part; at least that’s what the pictures suggest. You can see the model has been refreshed, but ‘new’ to what extent? Let’s get the numbers to talk: out of about 12,000 components that make up the car, 6,500 parts have been replaced, making the latest facelift the most dramatically updated one. C-class has been the bestseller globally for over a decade and one can see its progress-all the way from 1982 when the 190E hit the ground, which by the way was never called a C-class. With the launch of its 5th generation just about three years ago, we are witnessing the facelifted edition, further cementing its urge to be on top. That being said, the new updates kind of still refute the figures-I mean 6,500 parts, seriously!
And by the way, we also took the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C 300 for a brief drive and I can say firsthand, its good news for C-class shoppers.
I started my day with the Mercedes-AMG C 43 sedan. There were also coupe and convertible options. Let’s closely examine the key updates. Front fascia along with the headlight unit is new and our sedan had the optional multi-beam LED headlamps, with ULTRA RANGE high beam technology. AMG C 43 took the front grille from the C 63, a set of twin horizontal strakes. The side air curtains in the front apron help the airstream flow easy. You can spot the sleek 19-inch AMG rims, which normally is a set of 18-inch for a regular non-AMG. At the rear, I like the two double exhaust pipes instead of split pipes-they look more aggressive and appealing. Simple things like a small and thin wing lip on the rear and of course, the new taillights account for the ‘new’ list. The big diffuser rounds up the lower part on a sporty note. The overall ‘classic’ sedan shape along with the sporty attributes clearly tells you the story-that we are getting close to the all-time fun ride, the AMG C 63.
With C 63 impressions, I stepped inside the car. I am itching to suggest that I see bits and pieces of E-class and to some extent, the S-class!
The key has got a new design; I’ve seen it in the E-class. And then a typical Mercedes luxury touch runs through the cabin, which is a given. One can’t miss the AMG bits of light grain aluminum and matte silver fiberglass laid across the dash and black leather upholstery with red topstitching. Among all the new stuff, it’s definitely the AMG steering wheel that caught my attention. With a flat bottom and a sporty design and heavily contoured rim, the steering wheel was a show-off with Alcantara leather wrapped around. Unlike before, we have buttons on the wheel for cruise control operations. Built-in touch control buttons are a new feature and they follow directions to control instrument cluster and the multimedia system by swiping the finger horizontally and vertically. Takes a little time to close in, but you’ll get there. Seen it in S-class?
Let’s catch up with the engine. A 3.0-liter V6 unit with two turbochargers can deliver 390 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and tick the torque rates of 520 Nm at 2,500 to 5,000 rpm. The AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive is intentionally worked out to hit the right composure with a flamboyant touch. A rear-biased torque distribution with a front-rear axle split of 31 to 69 percent does the trick. C 43 4MATIC has the AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G transmission set-up that uses a software application to pick up very short shift times.
Technology, communication and interfaces have gone about a mile ahead and here’s the breakdown. The operating system doesn’t look confused and there are multiple ways to feed in directions, be it through the same old ‘touch mouse’-like controller in the center stack or the new touch buttons on the steering wheel. The optional fully digital instrument cluster with a 12.3-inch screen was quite flexible in showing off the meters, the way it should look like. Display parameters and color themes change as we switch through the AMG-specific display styles namely "Classic," "Sport" or "Supersport." I could browse through a lot of features and play around with options. Some of them are suspension, exhaust system, ESP, transmission, G-force, racer time and engine data. There’s a nice 10.25-inch central multimedia screen above the center console. The only issue here is that it doesn’t come with a touch control screen; weird thing as it’s kept as a standard feature in some of the outgoing Mercs now.
The standard entertainment options are Audio 20 multimedia system featuring two USB ports, SD card reader, Bluetooth connection and media interface. Our test car came with Burmester surround sound system. The COMAND Online system gets you fast 3D hard-disc navigation with topographic map display, photo-realistic 3D buildings and map rotations.
Dealing with an AMG, you’d expect a hi-alert tenacious affair as soon as you step in. AMG Performance seats come with specially designed seat side bolsters at the seat cushion and backrest. They give adequate lateral support in spirited drives. Having done a full day through the winding roads of Luxembourg to Moselle valley, I kind of lean towards the regular sports seat for a fairly relaxed drive. The steering wheel, though it looks heavy with all the wrapping done, felt light. It’s well weighted with precise reactions. The C-class in general has all the latest driving assistance. Improved camera and radar systems help visual aid for a good distance forward and to detect objects nearby the car. Active Brake Assist is standard, which can help avoid rear and front collisions.
AMG C 43 4MATIC can be a quiet lad and if you want, just tweak a button and shout for the bad boy. We started with a comfy ride in "Comfort" mode and then to "Sport," "Sport+" and "Individual." The shift was really evident as you literally sense the urgency all at once. The aftermath power delivery, suspension, steering and transmission reaction was a testament to AMG’s work. There’s also manual mode "M," where you shift gears with the exclusive paddles on the steering wheel. Anything "Sport" and above was exciting, but a tad tiring as well for long hauls. Exhaust notes are good as long as you stick to manual gear tricks, but don’t expect any better otherwise. It’s part and parcel of a model that comes right in the middle of the C 300 and the monster C 63. The rear biased AMG Performance 4MATIC four-wheel drive didn’t disappoint with our short stint at corners but also proved tight and controlled when traction was crucial.
One of the key highlights noticed was the AMG RIDE CONTROL suspension. The fully automatic, electronically controlled system adjusts the damping at each wheel to what’s required on the move real time. It worked out well for upright stability when cornering at speed. At the end, I could test a range of "comfort and sport" at any given situation. Additionally there’s an option of ENERGIZING comfort control, which basically is a comfort systems incorporating A/C and seat heating, ventilation and what not, even lighting and music moods. More points for the easy life.
We are pretty convinced that the revived C-class lineup, including the AMG C 43, was more than a refresh and there shouldn’t be any objection addressing the model as ‘new’ (remember-6,500 new components). Mercedes-AMG C 43 positions itself in between C 300 and C 63. Let’s put it this way: one should literally add the price of the C 180 and C 300 to own an AMG C 63 S. So the placement definitely makes sense. Advanced powertrains, driver aids and the infotainment system should help the 2019 C 43 but let’s not ignore the arrival of the 7th generation BMW 3 Series, which I think will debut in Paris. For now, C 43 has what it takes to stay up in this segment.
Pros: Tech upgrades, S class type features, fairly quick, body type options (sedan, coupe, cabriolet)
Cons: Stiff drive, pricey with optional kits, no touch control screen
Rivals: BMW 3 Series, Audi S5, Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, Lexus IS 350 F-Sport
one word: a mighty subordinate (to the beast C 63)
3.0-L V6 with two turbochargers, 390 hp @ 6,100 rpm, 520 Nm @ 2,500-5,000 rpm
AMG Performance 4MATIC AWD with rear-biased torque distribution, AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9-speed automatic
0-100 km/h: 4.7 secs, top speed: 250 km/h, fuel consumption: 9.5 L/100 km
Weight: 1,560-1,880 kg