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Mercedes-AMG goes V6 with new 43 range

10.03.2017

There’s a badge synonymous with earth shat¬tering levels of power and torque and a presence guaranteed to leave any self-respecting petrolhead weak at the knees by the mere mention¬ing of its name, or letters in this case.

It is of course AMG, which has taken a further step away from its tradition of V8 and V12 models by introducing a new range of V6 models carrying the 43 des­ignation.

Bridging the gap between the four-cylinder 45 and expansive range of bent-eight models, the 43 line-up marks the first six-cylinder engine from AMG for quite some time.

While bound to be met with a stinging response from hardcore fans not wanting anything but a metallic-sounding V8 or a smooth V12 up front, the time for speculation became obsolete as the contingent of local media descended upon the Zwartkops International Raceway outside Pretoria to find out.

The drivetrain

As has been the case with past Mercedes-Benz models, the 43 badge does not represent actual engine size with the bi-turbo V6 in fact displacing 3.0-litres and producing 270kW/520Nm.

Featuring a crankcase made out of lightweight aluminium to save weight, the new mill is linked to Mercedes' familiar 9G-tronic automatic gearbox, incorporating AMG Dynamic Select with five modes; Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual.

AMG 43 models

Although originally introduced last year with the revamped SLK, now called SLC, the expanded list of models include the C-Class sedan, coupe and cabriolet, GLC and GLC Coupe, and the GLE along with its coupe sibling.

Aside from the SLC which remains rear-wheel drive, the remainder of the range are all fitted with a performance optimised 4MATIC all-wheel drive system able to send 69% of the available power to rear and 31% to front.

Skidding and flooring (it)

While the allure of experiencing the AMG 43 at full chat on the tight and tricky Zwartkops layout rated as the biggest attraction for all present, a water logged skid pan complete with cones started proceedings off with the C-Class sedan and coupe taking centre stage.

I strapped myself into the coupe and with the go-ahead, nailed to accelerator while trying to pay attention to the instructor seated to my left. Fitted with an AMG tuned power steering system, turn-in was direct and sharp while the slalom was dispatched with ease despite several understeer moments thanks to some over-zealous use of the loud pedal.

Switching to the racetrack followed and after two admittedly very exciting runs seated in the passenger seat, it was time to get serious as I plonked myself in the driver’s seat for my first run. Slowly exiting the pit lane felt like an eternity until the thumbs-up was given to mash the throttle into the carpet.

With Sport+ selected and the optional sports exhaust activated, the silver 43 sedan reacted with immediacy and despite the lack of a V8 soundtrack, the punchy V6 still emitted a glorious whirl with each up shift being particularly brutal, but satisfying.

Chucking it into the tightening sequence of corners, the levels of grip, thanks to the 4MATIC system and standard Air Body Control suspension, were relentless no matter the speed.

In real life

As thrilling as putting the engine’s performance through its paces on the track was, its everyday usability in real life became somewhat tainted following a drive though the Magaliesburg and Cradle of Humankind in the GLE and then the SLC.

Despite feeling capable of hauling what was previously known as the M-class along with very little effort on a day to day basis, the reality is that the majority of buyers would rather opt for the torquier GLE 350d.

Swapping the GLE for the SLC, it became immediately apparent that time had caught up to the small roadster. Feeling dated inside with a coarse ride setup and the added annoyance of creaks and rattles when faced with any surface imperfection, combined with alarming levels of play in the steering on our tester, the application of the engine slightly made up for the limitations of now the six-year old R172 platform when pressing on.

Conclusion

While it remains to be seen whether the idea of a six-cylinder AMG will catch on in the same way as the four-cylinder A-Class, CLA and GLA did, its revival nonetheless makes for an enticing proposition to buyers demanding a bit more poke and appeal of the AMG badge, without breaking the bank for a V8 or V12.

Mercedes-AMG 43 model pricing:

AMG-C43 Sedan - R858 400

AMG-C43 Coupe - R928 100

AMG-C43 Cabriolet - R1 050 300

AMG-SLC 43 - R1 037 400

AMG-GLC 43 - R960 400

AMG-GLC 43 Coupe - R1 070 900

AMG-GLE 43 - R1 206 700

AMG-GLE 43 Coupe - R1 297 500

 

A six-year / 100 000 km PremiumDrive maintenance plan is standard on all models.

Article written by Charl Bosch
10.03.2017
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