Mercedes-AMG E43

He ainít heavy, heís the 63ís lite brother

RYAN LEWIS

Model Engine Max power Max torque Transmission Weight 0-100km/h Economy Price On sale Mercedes-AMG E43 2996cc V6 (60į), dohc, 24v, twin-turbo 295kW @ 6100rpm 520Nm @ 2500-5000rpm 9-speed automatic 1765kg 8.4L/100km 4.6sec (claimed) $159,900 Now

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

The Mercedes-AMG E43 is the first fighter from Affalterbach to arrive Down Under built around the technologically masterful W213 E-Class. It will eventually straddle the wideopen crevasse between relatively vanilla non-AMG E-Class models and the utterly unhinged $239,900 E63 S due here in June.

In both price and performance the $159,900 E43 is a closer relative of the mainstream E400 4Matic, and has been subject to some criticism for using the latterís 3.0-litre V6, sourced from Mercedes-Benz, albeit with bigger turbochargers to lift outputs by 50kW and 40Nm to totals of 295kW and 520Nm.

Staking a case for Ďrealí AMG status are AMG calibrations for the ECU, air suspension, ninespeed transmission and 4Matic AWD system, which give the E43 a more singular focus. It stops short of the rip-snorting aggression found in the similarly priced C63, and thatís a deliberate point of difference rather than a weakness.

Dialled up to its most fierce mode, the E43 is a fast car, capable of dispatching the sprint to 100km/h in 4.6sec. All-paw traction makes it almost as quick as much more powerful muscle sedans like the HSV GTS.

And the E43ís bi-modal sports exhaust opens up the V6ís vocals in Sport and Sport Plus modes, though it never reaches the same levels of snap, crackle and pop as the attention-seeking A45 and V8-powered AMGs. The E43ís pitch is more sonorous and mature.

Set to Comfort, the E43 transforms into a flexible cruiser.

Its AMG-specific suspension tune is firmer than the E400ís, erring on the sporty side of things even at its most relaxed without ever becoming too harsh or uncomfortable. Only badly rutted surfaces and raised lane markers disturb the E-Class plushness by sending sharp thuds through the body of the car. Across most roads it strikes the right balance and feels as though it could tackle the Nullabor in a single hit.

Steering, too, is effortless. A re-engineered front-end from AMG incorporates new components that transmit a more direct steering feel. Sharp initial turn-in is confidence inspiring, as is the E43ís stopping power. Front and rear brakes have been upgraded with larger, perforated rotors.

The E43 channels understated AMG sports sedans of old. Itís a fast, classy and thoroughly liveable four-door that doesnít shout its abilities. Yet an edgier experience is merely a tweak of rstated . hly esnít eak its Drive Select system away.

It also represents the new E-Class at its most dapper, plugging a gap in the line-up with road-going purpose rather than racetrack focus. way. w r,

PLUS & MINUS

Will always be seen as ĎAMG-liteí; cabin sensitive to jarring road surfaces Accessible performance; flexibility; front-end accuracy; maturity

Explain yourself

From the outside, an AMG front grille, rear lip spoiler and a unique 20-inch wheel and tyre package subtly distinguish the E43 from a regular E-Class. Similarly restrained upgrades inside include sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel that give the already pressure monitoring system is the only other equipment change above the highly specced E400. g y class-leading interior just enough AMG flair. A tyre