Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe (2017) review

The Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe hasn't got the mad guts of the fiery C63 — for quite a good reason.

What's new?

Mercedes-Benz has become the first luxury carmaker in Thailand to offer a locally assembled model of a two-door car. The C250 Coupe, powered by a 211hp 2.0-litre petrol-turbo motor, is priced from 3.39 million baht.

But the Stuttgart chaps also wants to give Thais the choice of a more powerful variant. No, it isn't the 245hp C300 treatment, as given to the C-class Cabriolet. It's the Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe 4Matic, as tested here this week, with a reasonably potent 367hp 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6.

Unlike the C250, the C43 is imported from Germany at 5.13 million baht -- half the price of the full-blooded C63 S, which gets a mighty 510hp 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8. At such a price point, can the C43 be any fun and powerful in real-world driving?

What's cool?

With over 350 horses to tame, the C43 is certainly not slow on public roads. In fact, it is quite a powerful car for this size. Complementing the brisk performance it has to offer is a decently quick-shuffling nine-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive that makes the C43 so planted in corners and when accelerating hard from a standstill. Its beefed-up brakes (upgraded front calipers and cross-drilled discs) cope with the power effectively.

And don't think for a moment that such performance comes with a stiff ride. Actually, the chassis feels quite well-resolved and feels just as comfy as in the C250, albeit with some slight harshness caused by the ultra-thin tyre profiles of the 18-inch wheels. The steering, too, is nicely weighted and sufficiently crisp.

Then there's the visual aesthetics. Dressed in white body colour, the sporty details around the car become pleasantly pronounced to the eyes like the front grille and headlights, classy wheel design and subtle boot-mounted spoiler.

The same goes for the interior where you can find fine materials including carbonfibre, brush aluminium, black leather meticulously stitched in red and the steering wheel partly covered with suede. All four seats, as well, look sporty and are good to sit in.

What's not?

Because the C43 wears the AMG badge, one might expect the engine and exhaust to sound mean. They don't, even though they sound naughtier than in the C250.

And if you're expecting the Sport modes of the drive selector to significantly beef up the steering feel or suspension, think again – they're still on the comfortable side of things.

Buy or bye?

That the C43 costs half as much as the C63 is already so enticing, mostly because the former can face 35% excise tax while the latter must be content with 50%.

The C43 successfully manages to thrill drivers who need extra-punchy performance at a price level hardly any other competitor is capable of doing so yet, at the same time, offering the daily usability of other mainstream Mercs currently on sale.

OK, it may not be right to compare red apples to green ones. But the C43 is practically as quick, bigger and more comfortable than the 5.999 million baht BMW M2, despite the Bimmer being a genuine driver's car with more focused and agile road manners. At such a price, the C43 is tasty food for thought for drivers needing some fun on the move.

Cabin is remarkably finished with sporty materials.All four seats are great to sit in. 

The 367hp bi-turbo V6 provides accessible performance in the real world.

The C43 maintains the everyday comfort of the regular Coupe models.

                                                       THE POTENTIAL ALTERNATIVES


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