2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 Cabriolet

An exquisite expression of absolute performance

By MALCOLM GUNN
www.wheelbasemedia.com

The Mercedes-AMG C43 coupes, sedans and convertibles constitute the automotive equivalent of the mouse that roared. The muscular lineup also demonstrates the depths to which Mercedes-Benz will go to satisfy the urges of performance-minded people of means. No other automaker comes close to matching it in this regard.

Of the three body styles, the C43 Cabriolet is unquestionably the flashiest and, during the intricate lowering and raising of the soft top, the most entertaining. It’s also the best way to revel in the sweet, guttural sounds emanating from the tailpipes.

These days, relatively few convertibles dot the landscape and fewer still if you discount two-seat roadsters (convertibles with no back seat). At the upper end of the price spectrum, the Germany-based manufacturers have the field virtually to themselves, and Mercedes-Benz is clearly the sun king, with several makes and models to choose from.

If you like sun on your face, wind in your hair and a good kick when the accelerator is pushed, then the C43 is right up your alley. This is a car that loves to run hard and does so with an ease and smoothness.

At 4,100 pounds, the C43 might seem hefty, but what resides within is the heart and soul of a lithe and nimble sports car.

The car begins life as your basic C300 cabriolet that’s equipped with a relatively tame 241-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine. But it’s a totally different animal once AMG (M-B’s 50 year-old in-house tuner division) dives in.

The starting point is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of peak torque. It’s connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission with manual shift controls. The C300 makes do with a seven-speed automatic. The C43 shifts effortlessly, but since the transmission normally wants to upshift to the highest gear under light cruising, it’s almost always in the wrong gear when it comes time for fun. For that, drivers can madly paddle-shift through the gears at will.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the AMG C43 reaches 60 mph from rest in 4.7 seconds, although getting a hard launch takes some skill. The 4Matic all-wheel-drive system certainly helps traction. It directs 31 percent of available torque to the front wheels, while the rears receive the rest.

An adjustable sport suspension (with electronics dampers), braking system and steering makeover is part of the AMG experience. They provide greater driver feedback and adjustable control, including Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ settings. The latter, with the exhaust-bypass switch activated, turns the C4 into a loud and angry beast with more direct steering feel and a touchier accelerator pedal. There’s also rev-matching downshifts and, frankly, obnoxious exhaust-system blatting during upshifts at anything close to full throttle. Fun, yes, but not the kind of stunting you would expect from any Mercedes-Benz, to be sure.

The standard leather interior has contrasting red stitching and 16-way power-adjustable front seats.

The AMG C43 will require an outlay of $61,400, including delivery fees, but as any Mercedes-Benz owner will tell you, that’s just for starters. The extensive list of options includes a navigation system, heated and ventilated sport bucket seats, sport steering wheel, hands-free power trunk lid, 13-speaker Burmester sound system, 360-degree camera and several choices of 19-inch wheels with summer performance tires (18-inchers are standard). A wide assortment of dynamic safety systems can also be added plus a few trick items such as Active Parking Assist that completely takes over either the perpendicular- or parallel-parking function without you lifting so much as a finger.

However, most options are subordinate to the AMG C43’s mission to deliver maximum driving pleasure with more than enough power underfoot to make you and your rebellious ride the envy of the neighborhood.

What you should know: 2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 Cabriolet

Type: Two-door, four-passenger, all-wheel-drive convertible

Engine (h.p.): 3.0-liter DOHC V-6, twin-turbocharged (362)

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic

Market position: The market for luxury convertibles is a thin one, but Mercedes-Benz is way out in front with a number of two- and four-seat models. It’s also a category where no North America-based automaker currently competes.

Points:
• One of the best-looking four-seat convertibles to be found.
• Lack of available trunk space will force passengers to pack light.
• Performance from the twin-turbo engine livelier than the numbers indicate.
• Want even more power? The C63 AMG twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 produces 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning (std.); emergency braking (std.); crosswind assist (std.); cross-traffic alert (opt.); lane-keeping assist (opt.);

MPG (city/hwy): 19/26

Base price (incl. destination): $61,400

By Comparison:

BMW M4 Convertible
Base price: $76,500
Pricey, but a serious German muscle machine with 425 horsepower on tap.

Audi S5 Cabriolet
Base price: $63,300
New 2018 A5 offshoot comes with a 354-horsepower V-6 and AWD.

Jaguar F-Type convertible
Base price: $72,000
Supercharged 340-h.p. V-6 roadster comes with Six-speed manual and FWD.