2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 Test Drive: 7 First Impressions

Our initial thoughts from behind the wheel.

Mercedes-Benz USA

This week, The Drive is out in Los Angeles testing out Mercedes-Benz's lineup of new AMG 43 vehicles.  Rather than deluge you with one massive post on all of them, however, we figured we'd split it up into separate posts with our off-the-cuff first impressions from each car. We already brought you the AMG C43 coupe and the AMG GLC43 Coupe; now, we're taking a peek at the C43 sedan.

1. This sucker is aggressive. My black test car had contrasting a silver lip spoiler and a matching diffuser out back, giving it even more attitude than the C43 coupe I drove yesterday. Between that and the competition-worthy sport seats, I actually double-checked the badge on the side of the car to make sure Mercedes hadn't slipped a C63 into the mix.

2. Holding the AMG sport steering wheel instantly makes you feel tougher. It feels like grabbing the grips of an M2 Browning machine gun, with the shift paddles standing in for the triggers. Though I doubt the U.S. Army ever upholstered its Ma Deuces in microsuede.

3. The C43 feels as fast as any honest-to-God AMG. Forget all that talk about these being half-caf sports cars; I matted the throttle at idle, and it took off hard enough to send my phone flying right out of the cupholder and into the back seat. 

4. Nine gears isn't too many. Unlike some transmissions that pack more gears than an emu has toes, the AMG-tuned version of the 9G-Tronic gearbox never seems to be hunting for the right cog. And there's enough distance between them that manual shifting doesn't feel like a rapid-fire exercise in confusion. 

5. There's a clear gap between the acceleration gears and the cruising gears, too. First through fourth seem designed for the former; shift to fifth, however, and the engine drops a full 1,000 rpm as the gearbox seems to put on its long-distance running shoes.

6. There's not enough sonic firepower without the sports exhaust. Unlike the C43 Coupe with the optional loud pipes, my sedan tester sounded pretty sedate, even at full throttle. Blasts through tunnels just aren't as fun as they should be in an AMG. 

7. The performance seats are perfect...for the thin and athletic. Those massive bolsters do a stellar job of holding the torso in place when hauling ass up a canyon, while still being comfortable on the open road. But it's easy to see how folks with more generous waistlines might find them, shall we say...intrusive.

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