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AMGs have been a rare breed, always. For generations now, this breed has been revered and celebrated. Not just for their power and performance, which has been legendary, but more for the intangible bits. Their character, their unmistakable growl, their innate ability to help the driver connect with the car. Not numbers which you can read off a spec sheet but emotions you felt – exhilaration, amazement or even fear, if you weren’t careful. For me, that’s what made AMGs truly special. In line with what someone wise said, change is the only constant and all that, combined with the timing of being caught in a planet which
is only getting hotter, AMGs have had to change too. The mighty V8s have become rarer, sadly, and now the V6s are joining them too.

The Mercedes-AMG C 43 competes against the Audi S5 and BMW M340i

Mercedes felt the pain too, I guess, and they added some F1 tech in the C43 which is great. But every time I saw the Turbo Electrified badge, I couldn’t help thinking, can electrification be the replacement for displacement. Or more importantly, can technology save the soul of an AMG? Visually, the C43 AMG is, as
expected, the C-Class air-brushed with an unmistakable AMG flair. The vertical AMG-specific Panamericana front grille and a dash of black accents all around,
work really well in this matte grey and 19-inch multi-spoke alloys look sporty. Mind the slim 40-profile tyres while driving though, caution is advised on bad roads. Quad exhaust tips, and a rear diffuser round up the C 43 AMG quite well. There is elegance and athleticism in the design, which I feel is impressive in what is at the core a luxury family sedan.

The 11.9-inch touch screen is the centrepiece

If the exterior is air-brushed, the interior has been slathered in the carbon fibre trim. If Brooks Brothers made racing suits, kind of vibe if you get my drift. The new sport steering wheel is really nice, functionally as well as to hold. It is a mix of leather with Alcantara, flat bottomed and with new switches that help you change drive modes, suspension settings, exhaust note and turn ESC off. I would have been happier if they didn’t resemble small touch screens, but that’s me. Talking of screens, the 11.9-inch touchscreen is the centrepiece, like in all new Mercs, and works seamlessly. The 12.3-inch digital gauge display is also not new, but the Track Pack display is cool. “Hey Mercedes” stays at your command always, and there is wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a wireless charger. The new, lighter AMG seats are supportive but only come with a heating option.

The 2-litre turbo does duty for the C 43

It is a sporty and techy place to be in, the new C 43 AMG. The main talking point on the new C 43 AMG is obviously the new engine. A turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four engine, which makes 402 bhp and 50 kg/m, which is about 17.7 bhp more than the outgoing V6. This powertrain, a nod to Mercedes’ F1 team, features a turbocharger with an innovative electric motor, minimizing the notorious turbo lag. There is a 48-volt hybrid system for an additional, albeit temporary boost at lower rpm, coupled with a belt-driven starter-generator, fine-tuning the car’s efficiency and driveability. All this does come together well, and the turbo lag is negligible, to have the C 43 AMG touch 100 in a claimed 4.6 seconds. Although, I completely believe the claim. Transmission-wise, the C 43 is equipped with a nine-speed automatic which is surprisingly a bit irritating at low speeds. Upshifts are very noticeable, and not in a nice way. There are multiple drive modes and even in Comfort, the ride is on the firmer side.

Even in Comfort, the engine pulls cleanly and hard right through the rev-range, and the pace on offer is surprising – although it never quite feels feral. For that, you should choose Sport+. There is a sense of urgency in everything in Sport+, and the 31:69 rear biased torque split can be felt more. I even heard some faint burbles while downshifting, or that could have been the synthesized engine track playing tricks on my mind. The burble and the growl of the bigger engines has been replaced by an electronic turbo whoosh, that is relayed inside the cabin and
it doesn’t sound bad for a sports sedan, but doesn’t feel at home in an AMG. This was definitely my first time in an AMG where I listened to the Burmester more than the exhaust note. Nothing to take away from the performance of the C 43 AMG though, it may not be visceral but it definitely is potent.

The overall design rounds up quite well

Unlike earlier, the C 43 AMG does have some competition this time in the sweet BMW M340i and the capable Audi S5, both with six-cylinder engines. At Rs 98 lakh (ex-showroom), the C 43 AMG is also more expensive than the two German rivals. On paper, the C 43 AMG may be losing this comparison but on the road I think the C 43 can easily hold its own. Except the engine note, you will not be wanting for performance, sportiness and luxury in the C 43 AMG. As a daily
driver, the C 43 AMG can strike a good balance between fun and functionality. It can be compliant and entertaining. Yes, it is not AMG enough and it does not shy
away from being modern. If you belong to the “no replacement for displacement” camp, the C 43 AMG may not be to your liking. But if you believe in a more refined and efficient approach to performance, the C 43 AMG should definitely be
on your list.