2018 Mercedes-AMG C 43 facelift – AMG’s junior saloon refreshed

With a little bit more power and a tidier design the entry-level Mercedes-AMG C-class looks even more appealing

It’s fair to say that Mercedes-AMG’s C43 didn’t immediately capture our hearts here at evo. We found its focus on outright grip, ultimate composure and incredible cross-country pace admirable but not captivating or involving. Time spent behind the wheel however, has softened our view as these attributes do make it a very dependable everyday companion. In estate form its performance is just as impressive, yet it’s even more practical.

Despite the package offering incredible pace from the outset, Mercedes-AMG has decided to give the C43 saloon and estate some extra power as well as refreshing the car’s looks. Underneath the bonnet is the same twin-turbo 3-litre V6 as before, but power has been increased from 362 to 385bhp, while torque remains the same at 383lb ft.

> See how the Mercedes-AMG C43 saloon compares to Audi's S4

The basics of C43’s drivetrain and chassis remain untouched. It still has the same nine-speed automatic gearbox and the four-wheel drive system that sends a fixed 31 per cent of drive to the front and the remaining 69 to the rear axle. Adaptive dampers remain standard, too.

With little change to the fundamental elements and only a little extra power, the new C43 doesn’t accelerate any faster than before. Mercedes claims the updated C43 saloon will hit 62mph from a standstill in 4.7sec while the estate takes 0.1sec longer. However, when we tested the previous C43 saloon to 60mph we recorded a startlingly fast time of 4.2sec suggesting Mercedes’ own times are on the conservative side. Top speed for the new car, as it was for the old model and most European performance cars, is 155mph.

The C43’s attitude – the steering’s weight, the throttle map, the stiffness of the dampers and the stability control – can be altered by switching between different driving modes. As before there is Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual, but the new updates bring along a fifth mode called Slippery. This new setting is identified by a snowflake, hinting at when it should be used: when the road is snowy and icy. In Slippery mode, the C43 helps deliver its power in a calmer manner to maintain traction and it always starts in second gear – in all other modes the C43 starts off in first to improve performance.

You can identify the new updated C43 saloon and estate thanks to its new AMG radiator grille. Before, the C43 had the sparkling starburst-like chrome grille found on the non-AMG models. The new car has a meaner, less fussy twin bar grille – similar to the one found on the V8-powered C63. The front bumper now has horizontal bars in the outside lower openings, too.

> Which fast estate is better: the Mercedes-AMG C43 estate or BMW 340i Touring?

At the back the previous trapezoidal-shaped exhaust pipes have been replaced with two pairs of less ornate, but much more purposeful round outlets. They sit either side of a more prominent and more aerodynamically effective diffuser.

Still not quite menacing enough? The optional AMG styling pack adds a bigger front splitter and finishes the spoiler, side skirts and rear diffuser in gloss black rather than silver or body colour.

Two new wheel designs have been created for the new C43, an 18-inch and optional 19-inch set. The spokes of the new wheels have been developed in a wind tunnel to aid brake cooling, help improve performance and fuel consumption while remaining lightweight.

> Read our review of the Mercedes-AMG C43 coupe and convertible

the biggest change inside is a fully digital instrument cluster. The analogue dials have been replaced with a 12.3-inch screen that displays three AMG-specific instrument designs. The C43 has also been treated to a new steering wheel with aluminium spokes and gearshift paddles, similar to the one found on E and S-class Mercedes. The touch pad on the right spoke controls the instrument screen while the right controls the central display.

The new wheel’s squared-off look – not dissimilar to Aston Martin’s square steering wheels – is accentuated by a perforated leather grip area. However, as an option, the wheel can be finished in leather and an Alcantara-style Dinamica microfibre fabric.

The basic interior comes in man-made black leather and Dinamica with contrast red stitching. It’s complemented with piano black trim, aluminium pedals, a black roof liner and red seat belts.

A range of carbonfibre or open-pore woods are available to make the interior feel sportier or more luxurious, as is real leather in black, red and brown for the seats and doors. The AMG Performance seats found in the AMG GT range and the E63 S, amongst other cars from the Affalterbach, can be specified for the C43, they can also now be heated, too.

The C43 may not be the jewel in the AMG crown and it will always play second-fiddle to the more outrageous C63, but it’s an eminently usable car and these updates look to only add to its solid character.

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