In Thailand, German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz has been expanding the range of AMG-tuned products that come with considerably more spice than the regular versions.
The Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC Coupe is another special model offered here, and although it may be overshadowed by the fire-breathing C 63 that is also available (but at double the price), the junior has what it takes to be a remarkable sports coupe in every respect.
Priced at Bt5.19 million (the C 63 costs Bt9.99 million), the C 43 Coupe represents a more realistic approach for those who want to experience true AMG performance. It may not be as exclusive as the bigger brothers, with no serial number or signature on the engine, and isn't made in Affalterbach either, but just like the SLC 43 (which shares the same engine), the C 43 Coupe is capable of extremely good performance, while maintaining all the Mercedes qualities.
To start with, the C 43 Coupe gets special exterior treatment that isn't too attention-grabbing (at least for an AMG), and in my view has a pretty discreet character. With a large number of C Coupes running in the country, it would be difficult to notice this car on the road.
It's only when you fire up the 3.0-litre V6 Biturbo engine that the C 43 tells you about its true character. There is 367 horsepower and 520Nm from that engine, capable of catapulting the car from 0-100km/h in 4.7 seconds. Top speed is electronically-limited at 250km/h.
I spent the first few days driving the C 43 as an ordinary car and it blended into the role perfectly. This is just like driving the C 250 AMG Dynamic (Bt3.59 million, 211hp, 250km/h). It's fully-equipped and welcomes occupants with a high-quality interior, although don't expect too much room at the rear.
There's a chequered flag design on the fascia background, and the carbon trim adds some sportiness to the cabin.
The large amount of torque on tap gives the C 43 great flexibility in the city and on the highways, with the 9-speed automatic transmission providing good fuel economy (12.5km/litre) if you don't floor the throttle too often.
But when you do (forget fuel economy for now), the C 43 provides another level of performance over the C 250. For many, this may be enough to justify that price difference. Acceleration is instant with maximum torque from the turbocharged direct-injection engine being ready from low engine speeds.
Before returning the car to Mercedes-Benz, I drove it to the Thailand Circuit (thanks to the owners) and the C 43 Coupe delivered an impressive performance as well.
Although the AMG-tuned 9-speed gearbox might not be as enthusiastic during second-gear paddle-shift kickdowns, giving in about a second after you want it, the 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive system, with 31-69 front-rear power distribution, worked wonders.
While the rear-wheel-drive SLC 43 with the same powertrain tends to oversteer if you apply too much (or too early) throttle while exiting a corner, the problem is non-existent in the C 43 (there's hardly any AWD understeer too). The 4MATIC system works in maintaining loads of grip and allows you to feed more gas quickly, catapulting the car out of the corner.
Driving this car in a circuit is so easy, with the steering (also AMG-tuned) providing good precision while brakes get extra stopping power up front with AMG callipers (rear callipers unmarked). Without pushing too much, it lapped the 2.5-km circuit in roughly 1 min 41 secs, which means it could easily break the 1 min 40 sec mark here.
The suspension has 3-stage adjustment (borrowed from the C 63) and the traction control can be totally switched off (takes a couple of steps), prepping up the C 43 for an enjoyable track day.
At the end of the day, the question would be whether the C 43 4MATIC Coupe is an interesting proposition.
Well, I think those eyeing the C 63 surely wouldn't downgrade to a C 43, but it is possible for a potential C 250 AMG customer to upgrade the investment in exchange for something more involving.
Personally, I would prefer a flashier exterior design and even louder exhaust with crackles and bangs, but for those who want a low-profile power coupe that can go undercover, this could be it.
Watch videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV7sSTTlXJk&list=PL60yMkBjrbpceGSOzTmus754YapHpglgF
Mercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe Specs
Engine: V6 twin turbo with intercooler
Bore and stroke: 88x82mm
Max power: 367hp/5,500-6,000rpm
Max torque: 520Nm/2,000-4,200rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
0-100kmh: 4.7 secs
Top speed: 250km/h
Average fuel economy: 12.5km/litre
Average CO2: 183g/km
Suspension (f/r): multi-link, stabilizer/multi-link, stabilizer
Steering: powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 11.2 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/vented disc
Track (f/r): 1,563 /1,546
Weight: approx. 1,735kgs
Wheels: 19-in alloy
Tyres: 225/40 R19 (front), 255/35 R19 (rear)
Fuel tank capacity: 66 litres
Price: Bt5.19 million