Mercedes C-Class Coupe: An F1 weekend with the C43
The E-Class might get all the prestige, but the C-Class is probably one of the most popular cars in the Mercedes lineup. Sure, it doesn’t have the on-road presence or the enormous screen of the E-Class, or some of the impressive autonomous driving features I made use of in the larger saloon, but it brings in just enough tech at an affordable price.
The standard C-Class is a great all-rounder, but in its standard form it’s a bit, well, sensible – that’s where the C43 Coupe comes in. Combining all the technology and luxury of the C-Class with a slightly outrageous V6 Bi-Turbo engine, the C43 is a perfect mix of the insane and well behaved. So what’s it like to drive? I took the Mercedes Coupe from Bromley to this year’s Formula 1 British GP to see just how easy it was on motorways, how manic it was on B-roads… and how comfortable it is in traffic. Here are my thoughts.
Mercedes C43 Coupe review: Exterior
The standard C-Class saloon might be one of the more mundane-looking executive cars on the market, but the C43 coupe brings a much-needed dose of character. Although there’s not that much different from the regular car at the front-end, the rear of the coupe is significantly more eye-catching than that of the saloon.
It’s more rounded and more classic looking, making the car look faster and more elegant even at a standstill. It’s a small thing, but it makes a big difference to the overall look and also lends the subtle carvings along the bodywork more prominence.
Mercedes C43 Coupe review: Interior
Inside, the C43 is pretty much identical to the standard C-Class and that’s no bad thing, especially when you’re queuing for an hour to leave a race track. The model I drove was specified with the £2,995 “premium” package, which among other things brings with it a larger 8.4in display (the normal size is 7in). Either one gives the infotainment and satnav enough space to clearly display information, but it’s not as impressive, imposing or futuristic as the floating screen in the more expensive Mercedes models.
Because you’ve opted for a C43 rather than a standard C- Class, you get a slightly more svelte steering wheel with a touch of chrome. The cabin in the car I drove was also liberally swathed in carbon-fibre-style weave, with AMG logos dotted around the place, and there are lashings of Alcantara, too, for that sports car feel. The C-Class’ cabin doesn’t have the same level of luxury as the E-Class, but in a sporty AMG trim, its sparseness and lack of extravagance actually make more sense than in the E-Class.
Mercedes C43 Coupe review: Satnav
As you’d expect from Mercedes, the satnav on the Mercedes C-Class is a solid performer. It took a while to enter Silverstone as the destination – mainly because of the reasonably fiddly click wheel – but after that, the C-Class quickly calculated a route for me and offered a list of choices, too. On the motorway it delivered instructions in good time, complete with lane instructions, and directions on roundabouts were presented clearly as well. When I did miss a turn, routes were adapted within a few seconds.
Navigating unfamiliar roads with the C-Class was made even easier thanks to the C-Class’ heads-up display (HUD). Floating just below your eyeline, this provides essential route instructions along with speed limits and the status of the cruise control. It will cost you £825 but it makes driving the Mercedes a joy, and measuring 210 x 70mm, it’s one of the largest HUDs I’ve come across. If you’ve opted for the C43, which has 357bhp of power for you to contend with, it’s useful for keeping a constant eye on your speed as well.
This review concentrates on the C43 coupe, but if you want a more thorough look at the tech in the C-Class, head over to my more technology-focused review. Read more about the tech in the C43 here.
Mercedes C43 Coupe review: drive
The C43 isn’t the fastest cars I’ve driven by any means, but it’s right up there with the most satisfying. Featuring a twin-turbo V6 engine good for a 0-60mph time of 4.6 seconds, it’s by no means slow, although it’s not as fast as something like a Nissan GTR nor its V8-toting C63s sibling.
Instead, the Mercedes C43 gives you just enough power to scare yourself, and it sounds just bonkers as well. The Mercedes C43 is one of the noisest cars I’ve driven. With the exhaust mode engaged, it makes every slip road, tunnel and roundabout exit a truly entertaining experience – more so than a car this understated has any right to.
That’s one of the best things about the C43. It’s presentable and refined when it needs to be, but when you fancy switching to Sport+ it’s a fantastically hot mess. With the car’s most extreme mode enabled, the C43 is raring to go at every opportunity and it’ll buck and rear when driving roundabouts until you get a better gauge on the throttle.
And handling-wise, the C43 inspires confidence. As you might expect from a saloon, it’s not supercar sharp but it’s forgiving, predictable and extremely good fun all at the same time. The steering feels direct at slow and high speeds and it means the C43 is great to drive on undulating country roads.
But the best bit? When you’re not on driving roads or you fancy listening to a podcast, you can simply engage Eco mode along with the car’s adaptive cruise control (which you can read more about in my review of the regular C-Class) and it will do the mundane stuff for you.
Mercedes C43 Coupe review: Verdict
Supercars are great, but there’s something to be said for a vehicle like the Mercedes AMG C43. Sure, it might not have pin-sharp handling or the instant speed, but there is just enough performance for plenty of drama and fun; if you think a fast saloon is what you’re looking for, the C43 has to be near the top of your list.
With silly speed, ridiculous noise, and impressive handling, the C43 is a whole bunch of fun, but it’s also practical and dependable when you want it to be.