Symphony of speed: Mercedes-AMG C43 delivers performance deserving of a standing ovation

The Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan offers the luxuries of a premium sedan and the performance of a sports car.
The Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan offers the luxuries of a premium sedan and the performance of a sports car.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
The Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan offers the luxuries of a premium sedan and the performance of a sports car.
The Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan offers the luxuries of a premium sedan and the performance of a sports car.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

The Mercedes-AMG C43 delivers performance deserving of a standing ovation

They say that a good piece of music, played back on a good hi-fi set, is enrapturing regardless of the volume.

The Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan is like that. You do not have to drive it like a maniac to enjoy the pleasures afforded by its 367bhp, 520Nm turbocharged V6.

From just a tad over 2,000rpm, you get a generous sampling of what the car is capable of. Acceleration is effortless - even intoxicating - with progress from amble to trot delivered with ease, and from trot to gallop with uncommon flourish.

There is little the car won't do that your right foot desires.

More importantly, it makes all the right sounds while doing it. Like its lethal and yet elegant acceleration, the rich rumble rises readily from low revs.

  • SPECS / MERCEDES-AMG C43 SEDAN

  • Price: $321,888 with COE

    Engine: 2,996cc 24-valve V6 turbocharged

    Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with manual select

    Power: 367bhp at 5,500rpm

    Torque: 520Nm at 2,000-4,200rpm

    0-100kmh: 4.7 seconds

    Top speed: 250kmh (electronically limited)

    Fuel consumption: 8 litres/100km

    Agent: Cycle & Carriage

You do not even have to select a sportier drive mode, although doing so will double your aural pleasure. In Sport Plus, it makes a proper racket, with sonorous blips on downshifts.

This is unusual. Turbocharged cars deliver day-to-day performance with their engines barely stirring. All too often, they sound that way as well.

Not the C43. Its vocal repertoire - deserving of an audience at the fanciest concert hall - is always accessible. It is a unique rendition, very natural and unintrusive (unlike some of the manufactured and exaggerated sounds made by other sports cars).

You do not need an open highway to have fun with this car, either. Cruising on any road that is not overly congested is good enough. Even one that is poorly paved.

For a performance car, the C43 offers an exquisite ride. Its chassis is evidently structured to take on loads of dynamic stress, but its suspension is remarkably calm - even mellow - in the way it handles changes in surface contours. Yet, if you hurl the car through a series of fast corners, you can bet on precise tracking, unwavering roadholding and near serenity.

Its brakes are beautifully calibrated and seem to know when to comfortably shed speed and when to deliver hard-as-nails stopping power.

If you are in the mood for serious speed, the car is actually driveable in Sport Plus mode. Its transmission is quick to adapt to throttle inputs, so you do not end up with the unsettling and sometimes constipated response seen in sports cars that are full of brawn but sometimes lacking brain.

The C43 offers the luxuries of a premium sedan. You get ample space, cosseting and cushy seats, decent visibility, ample stowage and all the amenities that go towards making a journey for four pleasant.

And while Mercedes has evolved with its peers to offer a cockpit that is more digital, visual and gimmicky, two features remain constant: its fuss-free cruise control stalk and brake pedal-activated hold function.

These features make Mercedes more welcoming and pleasurable - adjectives that hit the right notes with the suitably sporty and immensely accommodating C43.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2017, with the headline 'Symphony of speed'. Print Edition | Subscribe