As a motoring journalist, I have never really developed a liking for Mumbai. It lacks the fluidity of traffic as I have been used to in Delhi and the mix of not so smooth tarmac and concrete surfaces rob every possible car of a good ride. And this is the reason why I was holding on to the horses (and my patience), inching my way out of the heart of Mumbai towards Lonavala, a place that would provide an apt location to understand this car better.
I have had a stint with the C43 on an earlier occasion. That time around it was the 4-door sedan version that I got to sample in the United Kingdom last year and drove it for four days to the Western part of the country. It was a solo trip and one that goes down into memory lane. This time though, the updated 2-door coupe was my companion for two days and oh boy, it looked so appealing in a shade of red! As I took the key fob from Mercedes’ official driver in the parking lot of Mumbai’s swanky terminal 2, onlookers gave us (me and car!) more than just a couple of glances.
Its just not the front with its AMG bumper or horizontally divided twin-louvre grille that houses the big star logo that gets your attention but a lot more. The bling AMG spec alloy wheels for example and the adaptive MULTIBEAM LED headlamps that offer individually controllable LEDs which can react to the traffic situation. The bumper also wears a silver lower lip and gets horizontal slats in the side housings that have the air curtains. Its the rear too that makes you get noticed.
The roof curves down into the boot and the slim tail lights that remind of the earlier SLS models. The rear pillar is quite big with a lot of body ‘mass’ but solves the purpose. Quad exhausts not only look purposeful, they sound oh so well too. But more on this later. A lot has been said about the C43 when it was launched in India this year so I will keep this parameter short and sweet and move onto the cabin.
Its tough getting inside, especially for anyone who’s as tall (and healthy) as me. But once seated, the resemblance to other Mercs makes you feel at home. As a customer you can pick up from various trim colours and our test car came with black interiors, broken at places with silver inserts and a brown walnut central console. I love the three circular air vents that sit below the large screen – they continue to lend a retro touch to this modern day sports-car. And then the flat bottom steering with AMG embossing.
The little screen in the speedometer display however could do better. India does not get the large 12+ inch display that is seen on international models and no, the audio interface does not get touch reception either. You have to remind yourself time and again to use the controller knob below the touchpad.
Space wise, surprisingly, you do not feel cramped. The part leather – part suede seats (ARTICO man-made leather / DINAMICA micro fibbre upholstery in Merc lingo) are generous but getting into the rear seats is a game of its own. Dont get me wrong – the front seats can be flicked forward easily but you need to be reasonably fit to access the back. Space however is good.
But the Mercedes-AMG C43 is not about practicality or comfort. Its about the pleasure of motoring this side of the 8 digit figure. The 3.0-litre, V6, bi-turbo engine gets AMG’s know how and puts out twice the power of the conventional C200 sedan. Peak torque stands at a staggering 520 Nm and thanks to bi-turbo set-up, comes in from as low as 2500rpm.
Fire up the motor and the quad exhausts burble out in all their glory before settling into a silent purr. The C43 behaves like a sleeping hunter, one that’s waiting to see a possible prey and then roar its lungs out. And this is what I did once the roads to the expressway opened up and the C43 could stretch its legs. With the drive mode in Sport, the nine-speed gearbox came alive and was able to select the right gear as per my needs. We did end up chewing up miles rapidly before I slowed down for a serious of tunnels. Windows down, pedal to metal, the C43’s exhaust belted out some fantastic tracks, filling the tunnel with orgasmic notes. Ah, the perks of being a motoring journalist!
An hour later, the C43 was parked at an isolated part of the stretch leading to the Amby Valley. As I stepped out, the air seemed to be filled up the smell of burnt rubber (both the tyres and brake pads). My palms were sweaty and a grin was plastered across my face. What a joy this longish coupe had been. The otherwise hard ride played well, the slightly heavy steering (for city use) had the right doses of feedback and the rear biased AWD made sure I had my moments of glory.
Priced at just under Rs 80 lakh ex-showroom Delhi, you can’t get a better deal in terms of performance, classy looks, a lavish cabin, space for four and dynamics that can handle both city runs (Delhi, not Mumbai I mean) and weekend escapes. There might be others cars in the market that have similar power figures and cost less but the mix of AMG badge gives you bragging rights and how.