Mercedes-AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet first drive: AMG power with the top down

The Mercedes-AMG C 43 rewarded us with an entertaining soundtrack of pops, crackles and burbles.

Gotta love the autobahn. Because at 264 kmph, maxed out, the Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC Cabriolet feels fantastic. And not in the rock-hard sportscar way - or the C 63 way in AMG-speak. This is an impressively realistic fast car! Mercedes-Benz is rolling out its most comprehensive refresh in history for the new C-Class and in there is the C 43 sedan - definitely coming to India, and this, the Cabriolet which is likely to as well.

2018 Mercedes AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet Image: Mercedes-Benz

2018 Mercedes AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet Image: Mercedes-Benz

Under the hood

Obviously, just like the new C-Class cars, the C AMGs also have new skin and a new steering wheel. At the front is the twin-slat grille that marks the AMGs out from the other cars. The flared front bumper and the diffuser-d rear bumper also mark the AMGs out as sportier and sharper looking cars than the normal C-Classes.

Behind the grille and bumper is the new updated 3-litre bi-turbo V6 that goes 23 PS up to 390 PS. Mated to the AMG Speedshift TCT 9G, this is a rapid car, especially with 520 Nm available from 2,500 to 5,000 rpm. AMG says 100 kmph is just 4.8 s on the Cabriolet, 0.1 s quicker still is the sedan. The 4MATIC all-wheel drive is set to offer a rear-biased torque split.

2018 Mercedes AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet Image: Mercedes-Benz

2018 Mercedes AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet Image: Mercedes-Benz

Inside, there is the new generation AMG steering wheel as well as 12.3-inch high-res display for the instruments. Together, they allow the C 43s to display a range of navigation and other mundane information as well as a suite of AMG-correct information including g-forces, a race timer and engine output as a bar chart plus a boost display.

2018 Mercedes AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet Image: Mercedes-Benz

2018 Mercedes AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet Image: Mercedes-Benz

And let's not forget, like all the C-Class cars, the AMGs also have forward-looking radar and cameras etc to enable a host of Assist systems that allow the AMG C 43s to drive farther than ever before in semi-autonomous modes. But enough, no?

Driving the AMG C 43 Cabrio

I know I really should tell you about the titanium nuts in the suspension and the muggle-spit dampers that quell vibration but honestly, we've got all that information in other stories on the web. And the effect of all that is vastly more impressive than how many vanes are in the biturbos.

Because the C 43 Cabriolet is a sweetheart. Both the 43s are equipped with all-wheel drive but the torque distribution is fixed at 39 per cent front and 61 per cent rear. This makes the car feel very grippy but rear-wheel drivey.

Stick it into comfort mode and I was surprised at how absorbent it was - Germany does have 18 potholes and I went through all of them. But the suspension tune is not an accident. Mercedes-AMG intends for the C 43 to be a fast but not a rock-hard sporty saloon and cabrio. Switch it up to Sport or Sport+ and it firms up but it still doesn't become troublesome.

2018 Mercedes AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet Image: Mercedes-Benz

2018 Mercedes AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet Image: Mercedes-Benz

That means you can exploit its quick turn in and impressive grip in more places. So whether it was 115kmph around a sweeping B-road corner or, really, holding firm north of 250kmph on a curve on the derestricted autobahn, the C 43 Cabriolet felt controlled, responsive and on the ball.

The extensive bolstering in the AMG seats holds you in place and a plethora of sensors and Assist systems are all awake and working hard to keep you from running out of room, which does wonders for your confidence.

The only annoyance I found was the roof and window control buttons that are placed at the front of the centre cubby. This is where I usually rest arm and while it never happened to me, my driving partner repeatedly operated one switch or the other with his elbow without meaning to while it was his turn to drive.

2018 Mercedes AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet Image: Mercedes-Benz

2018 Mercedes AMG C 43 4matic Cabriolet Image: Mercedes-Benz

But the new screens, the new interface et al make the C 43 Cabriolet easy to get used to and start driving hard in more places that I imagined would be possible.

And when you wanted to take a break, turning on the semi-autonomous driving assistance proved easy and the car handles the roads, traffic etc quite well. This new generation of the C-Class also has the ability to control its speed based on what's coming next as it read the navigation date to work out intersection and roundabouts but we never got a chance to try that.

Verdict

I rather liked the C 43 4Matic Cabriolet to be honest. It was, perhaps, just too hot and sunny a day to have the top down but for a significant length of time, we did anyway. The C 43 rewarded us with an entertaining soundtrack full of pops, crackles and burbles. Performance is immediate and well-judged and I really liked how the 390PS and 520Nm come together to create a fast but not frenetic car. Of the AMGs, the sedan will, naturally, do the lion's chunk of business for Mercedes-AMG in India. But keep an eye out, this C 43 Cabriolet might just come too!




also see

science