The less barmy model in the AMG range makes perfect sense as an everyday performance car
The number 43 is the Meaning of Life plus 1. It’s also probably the minimum age you need to be to stand a chance of understanding what that’s a reference to, however, so here instead is Mercedes-AMC to put another kind of meaning into your life.
In AMG’s world, 43 denotes cars which are cheerfully unhinged without being fully certifiable. The latter honour goes to the AMG 63 range with their loony-tune turbocharged V8s, but the 3.0-litre six-pot 43s are hardly short on muscle themselves.
Here, for example, we have the C43 Estate. It’s here to sell in numbers to people who want a fast, classy, boast-worthy wagon – but who can’t, or won’t, shell out the £62,000 it takes to go the whole hog.
Engine: 2,996cc, V6 turbocharged
Transmission: 9G-Tronic Plus, all-wheel drive
Power (hp): 367@5,500-6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 384@2,000-4,200rpm
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Weight: 1,735kg (kerbweight)
MPG: 35.8 (NEDC combined)
Price: £45,660 (£54,130 as tested)
For about £15k less the C43 gives you 367bhp and 384lb ft, which translate into a 4.7-second sprint time and 35.8mpg combined fuel consumption. Quite a heady brew. Its styling is less in-your-face than the C63’s and, in a bid for everyday usability, it has four-wheel drive.
Happily, there’s no need for an angry letter to head office. The C43 handles the way a rear-driver would – the only difference being that it’s more stickily applied to the road, so you can keep the boot in for longer before dynamic reality fights back.
This is the case on whatever road surface you care to conquer, thanks to three-stage shocks that add a suitably sporty edge to the standard C-Class without turning it into something tiresome with a point to prove. Body control remains unruffled, even if you hit a series of gnarly pot-holes while pinning it at speed – something you can certainly do, because the engine is right there in its reactions to your right foot.
Call this a Diet AMG all you like. But remember those hairy-chested muscle monsters from a decade back? You’ve got more or less every bit as much power here.
£1,000 for AMG Performance exhaust system, £545 for LED intelligent light system, £265 for privacy glass, £350 for air balance package, £2,995 for memory seat package, £1,695 for driving assistance package, £825 for Head-up display and £795 for Obsidian black metallic paint and red leather upholstery
What happens if you use it to the max? Well, you discover that the C63 has more than just a bigger engine and a crazier body kit. There’s engineering in the full-fat AMG machine that we don’t get here, and it does make a difference.
But that will be relevant to how many customers, exactly? About the number who buy a C63 instead of a C43, which to use the correct scientific term is Not Many.
For the rest of us, what we have here is a properly fast Merc wagon that looks and sounds just hardcore enough. It has the sort of cabin you expect from Mercedes and the sort of accessories you expect from AMG. It’s lovely to sit in, ride in and drive in general; it’s every inch the junior exec wagon, and a bit more on top.
Cut loose, and the C43 will cut loose with you. The rest of the time, no-one need ever know your naughty secret.