Vehicle: 2020 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG 4Matic Coupe
MSRP as tested: $72,200
Specs: AMG-enhanced 3.0L V6 Biturbo (385 hp + 384 lb-ft torque), paired with a 9-speed TCT transmission
0-100kmh as tested: 4.4 seconds as-tested (4.7 seconds claimed)
Not a "real AMG" you say? While the C43 AMG is indeed 2 cylinders short of a handcrafted AMG V8, don't be so quick to dismiss it as a money grab. Razor sharp handling, nearly 400 horsepower (with all-wheel-drive grip to put the power down), and an excellent higher-pitched V6 exhaust note make it an absolute delight behind the wheel. Unlike its conservatively styled German competitors, this mini-AMG also has the aggressive looks to match its performance, with a killer interior to boot. But most importantly, C43 is chock full of character, making it more entertaining to drive, even if it isn’t necessarily the quickest nor the most pragmatic choice.
If there’s one thing the C43 doesn’t lack, it's character. This Biturbo V6 can be found in much of the Benz lineup (including the silky smooth E450 coupe we recently tested), but AMG has given it some sweet tuning that transforms it into a totally different beast. As a result, it feels more dramatic and raw than anything else in its class, with aggressive acceleration and a throaty angry exhaust note complete with crackles and pops. Shifts are quick and visceral, and at a flick of the wheel-mounted ‘driving-mode selector knob’ (essentially a copy of Porsche’s Sport Chrono dial but with a display), the car's Sport+ mode immediately downshifts, allowing you to have fun revving out those lower gears. The drawback of this aggressive tuning is that the ride is harsher than its competitors, and the transmission can feel a little jerky at times, particularly during low speed maneuvering through parking lots.
Rather than being a jack-of-all-trades like many of its competitors, C43 stays true to its AMG heritage of prioritizing huge power and massive fun over refinement and precision, simply on a scaled-down level. Still, handling is as sharp as you’d expect with an AMG-badged product, but more importantly, the C43’s RWD-biased 4Matic system lets you have a blast in the corners before calling for assistance from the front wheels. No understeer in this bad boy.
Yet another aspect where this Benz shines is on the inside. The tech might not be as cutting-edge as the newer BMW M340i, nor is it as solidly built or ergonomic as the Audi S5, but darn if this interior isn’t gorgeous. The centre console’s flowing waterfall design simply looks more stylish than the utilitarian angular designs found in many sports coupe cabins, with expensive-feeling metal switches mounted on gorgeous lacquered wood (or piano black/carbon fibre, depending on how you spec it) to complete the look. Elegant curves and robust materials are used all throughout the cabin, making for a look that is still sleek and modern despite essentially being nearly 6 years old. Even the ignition button feels more special, lighting up and pulsing slowly like a heartbeat once you get into the car.
The flat-bottomed AMG steering wheel is definitely a highlight having been taken directly from fully-fledged AMG flagship products, incorporating solid metal with leather and alcantara, as well as touch-sensitive buttons and 2 mini digital displays on the programmable driving-mode buttons and knob.
All materials look and feel robust with one exception; Mercedes products have tendency to have creaky wood trims and this C43 is no exception, though honestly this isn’t really a big deal unless you plan on constantly fidgeting with your centre console. Other highlights include the optional metal Burmester speaker grills (comes with the premium sound system) which really complete the premium look of the cabin, as well as beautifully integrated ambient lighting that glows between the panel crevasses.
On-road refinement is a different story however. The stiff suspension might be great in the corners, but it certainly won't be winning your passengers over. Road noise isn’t particularly loud, not that it matters because the V6’s rumble permeates the cabin even when in comfort mode (though it’s still a far cry from the C63s’s burly V8 and ultra-stiff ride). Trunk space isn't spectacular either (10.5 cubic feet), but on the other hand if you plan on stuffing 4 adult into your compact 2-door coupe, the C-Coupe actually has one of the roomier back seats among its peers.
It's clear Mercedes's designers didn't hold back when designing the C43 AMG. Unlike its conservative-looking German rivals (especially the M340i and Audi S4/S5 which are nearly indistinguishable from souped-up versions of their base models), the C43 AMG coupe looks more like a baby C63s, minus the flared fenders and body kit. Building upon the sharp-looking C-Coupe, it takes things further by adding a quad-exhaust setup, aggressive bumpers + diffuser, a lower and wider stance, and AMG + BiTurbo badging all around. Go for the optional AMG Optics Package ($1000), and it'll look even closer to a baby C63s AMG.
Recommended Build: C43 AMG Coupe w/ Premium Package + AMG Driver’s Package ($72,200 CAD)
Our tester came just the way we’d spec it (minus the upgraded black wheels and paint job), with the following options:
Premium Package ($5900)
AMG Driver’s Package ($2400)
Graphite Grey Metallic paint job ($890)
$500 upgraded 19’ AMG multi-spoke black wheels
$250 Dark Ash open-pore wood
Total price? $73,590 before taxes and fees, which isn’t exactly cheap especially considering the C63s AMG starts at $86K… In fact, tick all the option boxes and you’ll end up above 86K altogether. Be careful with the options or you might end up with a very pricey Benz, but then again, value isn’t exactly the C-Class Coupe’s strong suit.
The Premium Package ($5900) isn’t cheap but well worth the money if you can afford it, adding 16 additional features, highlights of which include the 360 camera + active parking assist, upgraded infotainment screen + touchpad controller, power trunk + foot-activated trunk release, keyless go, Apple CarPlay + Android Auto, a wireless charger, and the always excellent Burmester Surround Sound System. Be sure to also spec your interior without the standard scratch-prone gloss black trim too, especially since the gorgeous wood trims are only a reasonable $250 more.
AMG Driver’s Package ($2400) is a must-have for enthusiasts, and adds a performance exhaust, an AMG performance steering wheel (which is absolutely beautiful), AMG Drive Unit (the digital mode selector dial on the steering wheel), upgraded wheels, and AMG Track Pace to store performance data while on the track. The other package we’d consider is the Technology Package, which upgrades the headlight, adds adaptive high beam assist, and gives you the gorgeous 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster as opposed to analogue gauges. Not the best value package, but it does make this luxury coupe look a lot more modern and sleeker with its upgraded LED Multibeam headlights and digital instrument cluster.
To build your own Mercedes-Benz, visit: https://www.mercedes-benz.ca/en/vehicles/build/c-class/coupe