9 Things I’ve Learned Driving A Mercedes-AMG C43 For Two Months

We’re over two months and 1200 miles into our long-term test of a C43 estate. Here’s what we’ve discovered so far…
9 Things I’ve Learned Driving A Mercedes-AMG C43 For Two Months

Just over two months on from taking the keys to a Designo White Mercedes-AMG C43, I’m getting on swimmingly with the car. It’s been a mostly good experience thus far, and although there are a few niggles to report, they’re all fairly minor ones.

Here are the good and bad points to have stood out:

1. It’s not that economical

9 Things I’ve Learned Driving A Mercedes-AMG C43 For Two Months

I wasn’t expecting the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine powering the C43 to be especially frugal, but it is a surprise that scraping over 30mpg is quite a struggle. Particularly when I’ve had 34 out of the V8-powered C63 before.

It’s only on much longer motorway journeys that it’s possible to hit a low-30s figure, and that’s if you’re careful. Even after the 100-mile point of a motorway run recently, a few seconds of wide-open throttle dropped the 31-and-a-bit number I’d managed by a good few tenths.

If you’re taking the car out for a proper blast, it’s safe to expect low teens. Overall the C43 has returned an average of 24mpg since we took delivery in March, even though the bulk of its mileage has been on motorways.

The payoff of the thirsty engine is the noise it makes. V6s are often a little dull, but there’s something nicely throaty and angry about the din from this one. The newer inline-six Mercedes has been using for its ‘half-fat’ ’43 and ’53 AMG models isn’t anything like as exciting in the sound department. The optional AMG Performance exhaust helps, but the base engine note is definitely a good one.

3. Shifting to drive or reverse requires a lot of brake pedal pressure

9 Things I’ve Learned Driving A Mercedes-AMG C43 For Two Months

Quite often, I - rather embarrassingly - find myself accidentally revving the C43 in neutral, when all I’m trying to do is perform a three-point turn. That’s because you need to be putting your foot down hard on the brake pedal before switching from reverse to drive, or vice versa - otherwise it’ll just sit in neutral, with a little warning reminding you to apply the brake before making the selection. Even though you already are.

4. Manual gear changes above 6000rpm aren’t pleasant

9 Things I’ve Learned Driving A Mercedes-AMG C43 For Two Months

Another quirk with the automatic gearbox comes if you’re taking manual control, something you can do with the press of a button which is - on right-hand drive cars - awkwardly obscured by the trackpad thing which surely no one uses.

That’s not the only problem, though - if you shift anything above 6000rpm, within the rather large ‘soft limiter’ zone, you get a weird, slow and slushy shift that makes this massively complicated nine-speed transmission feel like an old four-speeder from the early ‘90s.

5. There are loads of practical features in the boot

9 Things I’ve Learned Driving A Mercedes-AMG C43 For Two Months

The virtue of having a sizeable boot isn’t the only thing that makes the C43 estate practical. Lift the tailgate (which is electric, obvs), and you’ll find all sorts of bits and pieces to make your life easier.

First off, there’s a cover that neatly rolls up as the boot lid rises. If you want to load the boot above the top of the rear seats, it’s easy to roll it away manually and lift a safety net up to stop your latest haul of Ikea goods becoming a bunch of tricky-to-pronounce Swedish projectiles.

There are hooks either side of the boot, which are handy if your journey home from the supermarket ends up becoming a little more dynamic than planned, and under the boot floor, there’s a fold-out basket plus a cargo net that can be attached to each corner of the boot. The latter feature is hardly ground-breaking, but as far as I’m concerned, every remotely fast car should - in an ideal world - have this. It’s surprising how many go without, leaving your luggage at the mercy of inertia.

6. Some of the sensors are over-zealous

9 Things I’ve Learned Driving A Mercedes-AMG C43 For Two Months

‘Our’ C43 has the £1695 Driver Assistance pack fitted, which initially made me concerned I’d be constantly bothered by ‘false positives’ as we have been with the FK8 Honda Civic Type R we’re still running. Thankfully, Mercedes’ safety systems seem on the whole much more sophisticated than Honda’s.

That said, the parking sensors do chirp way more than they need to. I can’t get off my driveway without been confronted by many beeps and flashes about non-existent obstacles, and I’ve even had proximity warnings flash up for no apparent reason while sat in traffic.

Another problem concerns the speed limit recognition - if you have the adaptive cruise control switched on, the car will automatically reduce your speed if it detects a lower speed limit zone. Very clever, but the trouble is I’ve had several instances of the car braking surprisingly hard on motorways for 50mph or 40mph limits that simply aren’t there. It serves as an unnerving preview to what life might be like with the incoming mandatory speed limiters

7. The navigation system constantly unmutes itself

9 Things I’ve Learned Driving A Mercedes-AMG C43 For Two Months

This one’s a real pet peeve. I always turn navigation announcements off - I don’t find them helpful, and I don’t like having whatever music I have on either dipped in volume or muted entirely. The trouble is, you can’t - as far as I can work out - permanently mute the C43’s navigation. If you either navigate to a new destination or switch the car off and on again to resume your previous route, it’ll unmute itself.

8. The interior is one of the best things about it

9 Things I’ve Learned Driving A Mercedes-AMG C43 For Two Months

Out of the German Big Three, it’s probably Mercedes that’s leading the way in the interior department. Audi cabins are slightly better built but comparatively dull, and over at BMW, even the more recently released models can feel oddly dated inside.

Most Mercs arejust right in this regard. The overall design of the C-Class’ interior is interesting, the materials - particularly the brushed aluminium of ‘our’ C43 - all feel nicely plush, and most importantly, the seats are amazingly comfortable.

A car with this kind of price tag needs to feel worth the money. Thankfully, the C43 does.

9. It's fast and capable without threatening the AMG hierarchy

When it comes to comparing the Mercedes-AMG C43 to the C63, it's definitely a case of 'you get what you pay for'
When it comes to comparing the Mercedes-AMG C43 to the C63, it's…

With 384bhp on tap from its 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, giving a 0-62mph time of 4.8 seconds, the C43 sounds pretty quick on paper. And IRL, the entry-level AMG C-Class really doesn’t leave you wanting for straight-line pace.

It’s a nice amount of power that’ll push you back in your seat, and yet you won’t find yourself lifting after a fleeting application of full throttle, fearful of an extremely awkward conversation with the local constabulary.

It also doesn’t threaten the standing of its V8-powered big brothers, either. When we tested the C43 against the C63 and C63 S, we found that the hierarchy works out quite nicely. The only trouble is the C43’s all-wheel drive system is a little too neutral - what you gain in all-weather ability you lose in engagement.

9 Things I’ve Learned Driving A Mercedes-AMG C43 For Two Months

The conclusion? If you’re a proper petrolhead, it’s probably worth stretching to a ‘63. Even so, I’m excited about my remaining time with the C43, and all the stuff we have planned for it.

Watch this space…



I am truly BAMBOOZLED how a 3.0 V6 Turbo is less economical than a 4.0 V8 Turbo with nearly 35% more power.

Maybe it’s the AWD system?

05/27/2019 - 10:07 |
26 | 0
Chewbacca_buddy (McLaren squad)(VW GTI Clubsport)(McLaren 60

In reply to by CannedRex24

Probably. Potentially the V6 also runs richer as well. But I dunno, I don’t work for MB

05/27/2019 - 10:48 |
8 | 0

I reckon it’s because the C43 has a torque converter whilst the C63 has a dual clutch manual with less drivetrain loss.

05/27/2019 - 10:57 |
0 | 0

To be fair, that 34mpg I managed out of the C63 was off a lower average speed. That said, on some similar circa - 70mph average runs in the C63 S, it was only ever about 2mpg behind the V6. It’s not brilliant when you consider people are eking out high 30s from the new 911’s 450bhp turbo flat-six…

05/27/2019 - 16:39 |
6 | 0
Chewbacca_buddy (McLaren squad)(VW GTI Clubsport)(McLaren 60

30 mpg is still respectable for any V6. The best I’ve seen for our Pilot is something like 26. Granted there are different bars for Europe compared to the otherside of the pond

05/27/2019 - 10:47 |
0 | 0

I think you’re MPG conversions is different from ours.

05/28/2019 - 03:30 |
4 | 0

A US gallon is only about three-quarters the size of the gallons we use though, don’t forget!

05/29/2019 - 07:44 |
0 | 0

The drag of the awd system will of course make it a bit less efficient compared to a lightly driven 63.
I’ve got this same model but in brilliant blue. Absolutely love it. The V6 bi turbo with AMG PE is probably one of the best sounding V6s there is.
The ride, especially in Comfort, is exceptional, actually better than my W213 E220d also on 19s.
The soft rev limiter is a bit annoying occasionally otherwise it’s perfect.

05/27/2019 - 12:27 |
0 | 0
Matt Robinson
Matt Robinson

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Is yours on 18s or 19s?

05/27/2019 - 16:40 |
0 | 0

Im going to test drive one on friday and im really interested in how a merc drives as its the first “premium” car im driving

05/27/2019 - 19:00 |
0 | 0

i have never known why AMG mercedes of the last 10 years or so are adamant on using the soft cut fuel rev limiters instead of an ignition cut because they just gradually slow down at the red line.

05/27/2019 - 20:04 |
2 | 0

Please try to get hold of an S4 Avant (not the diesel one though), it would make an interesting comparison test!
Also maybe the new M340i when it’s available :)

05/28/2019 - 07:09 |
4 | 0

S4 Avant test is planned, but it’ll have to be the diesel since the petrol has now gone! I think that’s a more interesting test though, don’t you? M340i is a tricky one - the Tourings may not land in the UK (they haven’t even been revealed yet) until after the C43 goes back, and I’m not keen on using a saloon to shoot with an estate

05/29/2019 - 07:44 |
0 | 0


Sponsored Posts