Mercedes-Benz W206 AMG C43 Test Drive Experience

Location: Japan
Currently, I own an A45 S, which I’ve had for over a year, and it’s nearing 30,000 kilometers. Lately, I’ve been contemplating whether to change my car. I use my current car for commuting, track days, and long-distance driving in snowy conditions. While I’m satisfied with its performance, I’m concerned about its depreciating value due to the high mileage. This led me to consider getting a new car.

Initially, I noticed that a Mercedes-Benz dealership had two used W205 C63 S early models for sale, so I went to the dealership to ask the staff if I could try starting the cars and hear their engine sounds (I’ve never heard a V8 before). However, the staff couldn’t find the keys, so they suggested I take a look at the newly arrived C43. I inspected the car, and it looked impressive. The exterior design was better than the W205 C63 S. The staff then asked if I wanted to take it for a test drive. I thought it was a good opportunity since both cars had the M139 engine, so I agreed.

After driving it for about fifteen minutes, I couldn’t quite grasp the personality of this car, whether in Comfort (C) mode, Sport mode, or Sport+ mode. I had previously test-driven a W205 C43, which I found to be a powerful C-Class with a relatively stiff suspension. However, this time, the C43 in Comfort mode at low speeds felt like an electric car, lacking the typical AMG character, making it feel somewhat sluggish. In Sport+ mode, the low-end torque was decent, and as the speed increased, it felt more like the traditional AMG experience. However, when compared to my A45 S, the C43 was noticeably less enjoyable. I also experienced a severe jerk during aggressive acceleration, similar to what I had felt in an early model W176 A45, which was quite unexpected for a Mercedes-Benz. Additionally, the C43 didn’t accelerate as quickly, making me reminisce about my previous 300P overseas version of the 718 Boxster. I later found out that both cars had similar 0-100 km/h times of around 4.6 seconds, with my A45 S offering better overall performance. In terms of handling, both the current C43 and the standard W206 C-Class felt quite similar, and I personally found them to be overly agile. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, I prefer the more direct handling of my A45 S. The A45 S’s rear-wheel torque distribution in corners is a lot of fun, and its driving experience is not far behind Porsche’s MR layout.

This car feels quite complex, especially the early models, which seem to be prone to issues, such as the unusual jerkiness I experienced.

The car comes equipped with an electric turbocharger, one of the earliest mass-produced cars to have this technology. While it was heavily promoted, it still couldn’t surpass the traditional gasoline car’s performance due to physical limitations. In simple terms, it has good low-end torque, but once you rev it past 4000 RPM, it becomes like an ordinary gasoline car. The overall performance still depends on the engine’s capabilities. The C43 doesn’t have as much horsepower as my A45 S, and once the revs go beyond 4000 RPM, the excitement fades. My A45 S and the 718 can rev up to over 7000 RPM, offering a completely different experience.

After test driving this generation of the C43, I’m left with mixed feelings, and I’m not sure how to evaluate it. The biggest takeaway is that it’s a car that almost anyone can drive, and if I let my wife drive it, it’s undoubtedly more suitable than the A45 S. Finally, regarding the car’s sound, it’s different from the A45 S. It has a lower and quieter tone, making it less noisy for daily driving, but it lacks the thrill at high speeds.

After the test drive, I asked the dealership to estimate the buyback price for my A45 S. I was surprised to find out that the car I purchased for 8.5 million Japanese yen could now be bought back for 6.5 million yen. It seemed like a great resale value. They also provided me with a quote for the new C43, which had an original price of over 11 million yen, but with a high-interest loan, the total cost came to 13 million yen. I was taken aback by the price, and I couldn’t find a reason not to buy a Porsche.

Of course, the staff said that everything was negotiable and that discounts were possible. While I don’t have particularly negative feelings about this generation of the C43, I believe that the new generation of Mercedes-Benz cars, considering their prices, is not worth it. Like Nvidia graphics cards, the recent price hikes are unreasonable. I personally think that the C43 is essentially an A45 S with a slightly higher price, which is something I can’t justify right now.

Later, I watched YouTube reviews by Japanese YouTubers and learned about the jerkiness issue with this C43. As a result, my interest in this C43 diminished. Currently, I’m more interested in the Toyota GR Corolla, and I hope to be able to buy it next year. It seems like a fun car.