Luxury segment leader Mercedes-Benz steps up its range of new models for New Zealand with the arrival this year of five C-Class coupe derivatives, one of which is the go-fast AMG C43.
Four will land here mid-year, among them the C200 petrol and C250 diesel. The remaining two are still to be announced, says Mercedes-Benz NZ public relations man Matt Bruce. One is likely to be a more powerful version of the V6-powered C350.
The fifth is the new AMG C43 4Matic coupe, expected towards the end of the year. It is the first in a new series of 43-badged AMG models, which include a C43 sedan and C43 convertible.
Asked if the sedan and soft-top would also land here at the same time as the AMG C43 coupe, Bruce said: “No comment.”
Mercedes-AMG will unveil the C43 coupe at the Geneva motor show next week. Company chairman Tobias Moers said: “The ‘43’ models boast the characteristic AMG genes which are also included in our GT and ‘63’ vehicles, and thus consistently interpret our brand essence of ‘driving performance’ in their segment,” he said.
All C43 models will use the same twin-turbocharged V6 engine as the recent two-d00r AMG SLC 43 convertible, which replaces the SLK. It’s a 270kW/520Nm unit fitted with the brand’s 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox and 4Matic all-wheel drive system.
The top-range C-Class, the AMG C63 sedan and wagon, use a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 engine delivering 375kW/700Nm and driving the rear wheels via a seven-speed gearbox.
The 4Matic system in the C43 gets a rear-biased torque distribution – sending 69 per cent of the engine’s power to the back axle and 31 per vent to the front. It sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 4.7 seconds, roughly half-a-second slower than the C63 sedan.
Much of the C43’s hardware and styling has been borrowed from the C63. Behind the standard-fit five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels sit a set of ventilated disc brakes measuring 360mm at the front and 320mm at the rear.
AMG engineers have tweaked the front and rear suspension systems – again using tricks from the C63 – for better handling, as well as substituting new steering knuckles.
Adaptive dampers are also included, activated by AMG Ride Control. Like the C63, there are five selectable driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual.
Mercedes-AMG says the new nine-speed ‘box offers double de-clutching on downshifts and “exhilaratingly short” shifts in the go-faster Sport Plus mode.
Manual mode is selected by a button on the console and controlled by steering-wheel mounted paddles. This calls for a focused driver, because the transmission stays in the selected gear and does not automatically shift up when the engine speed reaches the limit.
Inside, the cabin borrows much from from the existing two-door C-Class. Faux-leather sports seats are standard, with contrasting red stitching throughout. The same 4.5-inch multifunction display sits between the chequered flag-style dials, while in the centre of the dash there’s a large tablet-like screen.