A Fond Farewell

MONTH six

FUEL THIS MONTH 9.3L/100KM AVERAGE 9.4L/100KM DISTANCE THIS MONTH 680KM TOTAL 7894KM

Liked

The noise; don’t underestimate how fast it is

Disliked

All-wheel drive system way too sensible

MOMENT favourite

Beating the 4.7 second 0-100km/h claim by a tenth

FUEL REPORT

Merc claims 8.2L/100km combined, we got 9.4L over 7000km.

Best range from one tank 745km on the Hume (59L; tank is 66L). Worst consumption 19.8L/100km after a long, fast drive

Why we didn’t want to give our C43 back

HE C43 is deserving of a Mercedes-AMG badge, but in the same way an A45 is – rather than a C63. While it has a boy-racer exhaust note, tightly-hugging sports seats and lashings of Dinamica microsuede, the C43 is the accountant who rides around on a Harley-Davidson on the weekend, complete with studded leather jacket and matte-black openface helmet.

This is our principal finding of the C43 after six months in the MOTOR stable: it’s very fast, and very loud, but beneath its shouty veneer, it’s actually quite sensible. Back at Month One, we wondered why a 270kW C43 had all-wheel drive, where a 375kW C63 was deemed okay with merely rear-wheel drive.

With a 33/67 front-rear torque split, we hoped the C43 would offer the wet weather security of all-wheel drive, but still with that satisfying reardrive feeling when you wanted it.

It turns out its basic 4MATIC allwheel drive system is more a safety than performance feature, one that would greatly benefit from a rear T limited-slip differential.

In fairness, the C43 wouldn’t have done 4.61sec to 100km/h at the strip last month – nor a 12-second quarter, 12.87sec at 174.03km/h – without the front axle chipping in.

It’s effing quick on the open road, too. Interestingly, you’d think the C43 would love the really tight, slower corners, where that all-wheel drive traction can come to the fore, but it doesn’t, the electronics trimming power frustratingly as you attempt to pick up the throttle early and aggressively. In the tight stuff, this might be a better car with the electronics all off. We don’t know.

It’s in the third and fourth gear corners – where you’re not taking advantage of the all-wheel drive system whatsoever – that the C43 comes alive. It is seriously fast, with an addictive V6 howl; hilariously anti-social cracks on upshifts; strong, feelsome and capable brakes; an eager front end and, though the static grip balance also feels 33/67 front-rear, you can shift it more towards 50/50 or even further, by carrying more and more brake to the apex. The C43 then becomes a very satisfying car to drive fast. In fact, it’s easy to get completely carried away having a decent punt in this car, only to find wooden brakes days later and evidence of your weekend ‘activities’ showing all over the shoulders of the front tyres. This, also, is a car you could lose your licence in.

The C43 is a very comfortable daily driver but amongst those slaving away at MOTOR HQ, the jury is out on the suspension tune. While it’s far from rock hard – in fact, it’s quite supple – cat’s eyes bizarrely thud,

harshly, into the interior, as do joins in the road. The body can also feel oddly floaty over big bumps at 100km/h.

“You could get seasick in this thing,” remarked a more wimpy member of MOTOR staff. (Me? Yeah, ride-wise, it’s no Bentley, but I could put up with it no problems.) Some staffers also complain the C43 lacks refinement.

Should you get one? If you don’t care for that rear-drive feeling, and actually quite like the idea of traction and security as well as power, you’ll like the C43. We’ve loved living with it – its nice interior, near-perfect driving position, many helpful electronic aids and fantastic-feeling major controls. No gripes have been deal-breaking.

Most MOTOR readers will consider the $4990 Performance Package, which gets you C63 seats, steering wheel and the louder exhaust, good value. Without it, the car loses about 50 per cent of its personality.

So, the C43 is not a twin-turbo V6 C63 – but neither is it some soft slowpoke with undeserving AMG badges.

It’s its own thing, a new flavour on the AMG menu. One we’d order again. – DC

It’s not a twin-turbo V6 C63. It’s its own thing – and we like it