Mercedes-AMG E43 first drive review: The stepping stone into the outrageous world of AMG

By Bertrand D'souza

Mercedes-Benz is one of the most prolific luxury car manufacturers in India. The depth and diversity of its range offered to Indian consumers is unparalleled. In that range exists the complete sportscar portfolio, namely the whole AMG fleet. An addition to that range in the near future will be the AMG E43 4Matic. The E43 sits at the bottom of the E-Class AMG range, in a sense it is a stepping stone into the outrageous world of AMG. Its older siblings, the E63 is madder, wilder and noisier but the the E43 isn't far behind.

The E43 AMG is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 that delivers 406 PS thanks to a twin-turbo with upgraded software systems. Maximum torque is a hefty 520 Nm, great for regular drivability but even better when it comes to putting the hammer down, quickly! Mercedes claims the E43 will touch a 100 kmph in just 4.6 seconds, its top speed is however restricted to 250 kmph, a long standing gentlemen's agreement between the premier car manufacturers to not breach that mark in the interest of safety.

The V6 is an energetic motor by itself, though it works best when the Sports or Sports Plus mode is engaged. It even picks up the pace of the transmission, gear shifts on the 9-speed automatic are quicker. Now you can choose to get out of automatic mode and use the paddle shifts behind the steering wheel to control the gear shifts manually, but unless you're on a winding road section, there's not much pleasure to be derived.

 Mercedes-AMG E43 first drive review: The stepping stone into the outrageous world of AMG

Image credits: Mercedes-Benz

The E43 is in possession of clever electronics that control the cars behaviour using five driving modes — Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual. Eco mode subdues performance and enhances a more relaxed form of motoring, the engine in fact does some clever work to enhance fuel efficiency. In Sport and Sport Plus, engine idle speed increases to enable the E43 to accelerate quicker.

What you don’t get in the E43 is the throaty exhaust note made famous by cars such as the C63 and the E63 AMG's. The E43 sounds quieter, more mature, without losing any of the inspirational bits.

Image credits: Mercedes-Benz

The E43 also gets a sportier ‘Air Body Control’ air suspension system to improve its agility and stability. The E43 is tauter, more precise and confident through corners. The new suspension is standard fitment on the E43 and offers a choice of damping options spread between Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. Torque spread has a 31 to 69 percent split front to rear, so in a sense its still a rear wheel drive car. In Comfort mode, the E43 still feels a bit stiff — don’t expect the comfort of the standard E-Class but nonetheless it’s not as bruising as the stiffer E63.

The E43 is stable even at high speeds, even in Comfort mode, it does not wallow and has little to no pitch. There’s enough confidence thanks to that well set-up chassis tuned to match the standard E-Class and not the harsher E63. The steering is also tuned to deliver more precision and weight worthy of a sportscar, and it’s quite direct especially in Sport mode. Most of the E43’s dynamic confidence also comes from the sticky tyres — our test car was shod with the 245/35 front and 275/30 rear tyres. These low-profile tyres will be offered on India spec cars though it means ride quality may get harsher.

Image credits: Mercedes-Benz

Inside the E43 is quite similar to the standard E-Class sedan. You'd have to strain your eye to see the leather upholstery is of a more premium quality. What you get additionally though are some delightful feature add-ons such as the flat-bottom steering wheel and sport seats with dynamic bolstering. These seats bolster the side of your body that leans into the direction of the corner, and while it's a neat feature to show off, the benefit is lower fatigue levels since you aren't moving too much in your seat.

Image credits: Mercedez-Benz

On the outside, a few touches like the front bumper with the three massive vents to feed air to the intercoolers, a diamond grille with chromed pins, sportier AMG wheels, the spoiler lip on the rear boot and the quad tailpipes that are in line with the cosmetic upgrades generally seen on AMGs. The E43 AMG will also be the only standard-wheelbase version of the E-Class you will get in India since Mercedes-Benz only offers the E-Class sedan in the long wheelbase version. What it loses in length and poise it gains in muscle and sheer road presence.

The E43 is definitely for those wanting to get a slightly more sportier E-Class without paying the higher entry fee charged by the full blown AMG's. The E43 is a strong middle-order muscle car and its finding a lot of favour globally. I suspect people will find this car more palatable and decidedly more delicious to dive into. With a price close to the Rs 1 crore bracket; it would be a good bargain but lets wait and see what Mercedes-Benz has to say about that.

Updated Date: Jun 01, 2017 15:36:01 IST