Back in 2018 we reviewed the Mercedes-Benz E300 Cabriolet, and in 2017 the Mercedes-Benz C200 Cabriolet. To date, we had yet to get behind the wheel on an AMG soft top. That is, until now. Both of the previous Cabriolets ranked high; would the C43 AMG bring something else to the table that you just can’t live without?
I was keen to see how it would stand up.
The C-Class Cabriolet offers three models in New Zealand. It starts with the base model C200 Cabriolet ($91,400) and then moves up to the AMG C43 Cabriolet ($141,400) and finishes with the AMG C63 S Cabriolet ($193,400).
The C200 comes with a 1.5-litre 4-cylinder hybrid-petrol engine, producing 135kW of power and 280Nm of torque. The AMG C43 comes with a 3-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol engine and puts out 287kW of power and 520Nm of torque. The AMG C63 S is powered by a 4-litre V8 twin turbo that produces 357kW of power and 700Nm of torque.
Both the C200 and AMG C43 have a 9-speed 9G-TRONIC transmission behind the engine, while the AMG C63 S has the AMG Speedshift MCT 9-speed transmission.
The C200 is the only none AMG variant available. As you’d expect with AMG, the base equipment levels are good. As standard you get a AMG 19-inch alloy wheels, Multibeam LED intelligent lighting, a performance steering wheel with nappa leather, AMG sports pedal cluster in brushed stainless steel, black ash open-pore wood trim, a Burmester surround sound system with 13 speakers and 9-channel DSP, COMAND online infotainment system with SatNav, heated front seats with memory function (3 settings including exterior mirrors), Qi wireless phone charging, keyless entry and start, electric boot operation, auto wipers and lights, dual zone AC, paddle shifters, AMG Night Package, AMG Ride Control sports suspension, AMG speed-sensitive sports steering, a sports exhaust system, a 360-degree camera, auto parking, traffic sign assist, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
There’s a lot of driver assists to help you along the way. These include the Driver Assistance Package Plus which includes Active Lane Change Assist, Enhanced Automatic Restarting in traffic jams, and Route Based Speed Adaptation.
The brakes in the AMG C43 also get upgraded, with larger, perforated front discs, with the callipers at the front having ‘Mercedes-Benz lettering – not that that helps your braking.
Our test car was fitted with the AMG performance exhaust system ($2300), which brings the price from $141,400 to $143,900.
There’s a huge amount of different options to up-spec your AMG C43 – go here[LINK] to check them out.
It’s probably a good thing I did this review, as Fred would not have been pleased to see yet another blck Mercedes-Benz review car. But I’m not Fred and I think classic black works for most of the range and I did like how this AMG C43 Cabriolet looked. Sharp, classy and refined. It did however look a bit awkward with the roof up, like it was outside its comfort zone.
With the roof down, this car looked very good. The AMG styling was noticeable from every angle. From the aggressive wide intakes on the front bumper, strong sculpted lines down the sides, to the boot lip, performance diffuser and sport exhaust at the rear. It’s not business time, this car wants to enjoy itself.
Interior trim was porcelain leather, which is almost white. Not something I would have chosen myself, however it did offset the black exterior body perfectly.
I am not usually a convertible guy, maybe it’s because of my height. In an effort to put myself deep into the position of a convertible owner, I decided to have the top down at every opportune moment. Unless it was raining, I was going to be driving around this convertible how it should be, with the top down.
With the roof down, you get a great view of the entire interior. The porcelain seats were stunning, beautifully sculpted and the perfect contrast to the other materials inside the cabin. Without even trying, the porcelain looks far more expensive than a typical black leather interior would.
It was also obvious that this was a performance model as the side and rear bolsters on this AMG were big and firm. Sitting in these seats, you felt snug and safe, almost held. They would be really good when it came to a bit of spirited driving. The bolsters on the rear seats are just as big, but the rear seats were not as deep as the front ones.
The leg room in the back was not amazing either, most people over 6ft would have trouble getting comfortable. It’s also worth noting that this C43 Cabriolet does not have the same 5 seats the sedan variant offers. The 5th centre seat is replaced with a plastic insert and cup holders.
So that we can say it’s a full review, and that we covered all bases: I was unable to get our baby seat in the back seat. It might have fit if it was front facing, but we are not there yet. It’s probably a good thing, as I could only see one way of getting my daughter in and out, which was to open and close the roof each time. I am sure she would have loved that.
Being an Mercedes-Benz cabriolet, you also have the option of the Airscarf system, neck level heating for driver and front passenger. In the AMG C43 it’s standard, which makes all the difference between a roof-up and roof-down day. This basically meant that if it was not raining, combined with the heated front seats I could have the roof down and be snug and warm while driving the car in most temperatures throughout the day. It’s definitely something that sets Mercedes-Benz apart from the rest of the convertible market
One thing I was disappointed to see was that the AMG C43 did not have the two 12” screens of the S-Class and new C-Class. You do however have one 12” central display and new wide screen LCD screen for the driver’s display. I really like the new driver dash as the dial surrounds really focused you in on the display making it feel very performance orientated. It also was unfortunate to still have the ‘tacked on’ look of the last model’s central display. Not quite integrated, but still better than the previous model.
There was one thing that did bug me about the central screen, which was unexpected at first. As I had the top down for most of the review, I found that the sun caused a lot of glare across this screen, so much so that it often made it hard to see anything on the screen at all. A better reflective coating is definitely required here.
Mercedes-Benz still retains an analogue clock in the centre of the central console. It might be a generation thing, but I will say that it gives it a touch of class, even though I found myself reading the time off the digital screen 99% of the time. The rest of the central console still retains the hard buttons for SatNav, Media, Phone, and Radio. Overall this console looks nice not too cluttered or busy, finished off with my favourite black ash open-pore wood inlay.
There’s a small, rear centre console cubby, that also gives you access to an SD card slot and 2xUSB ports, and there’s also a front cubby that has a single USB.
The steering wheel has adopted the new S-Class controls, with a directional swipe and jog dial to operate the central screen. Most of these are real alloy, which look and feel great. I am still on the fence about it, as some of the controls are good, but I don’t like the swipe buttons, not yet anyway.
The boot is reasonable 360 litres in size. The opening is ok when the roof is up, but when it’s down, a tray folds down to hold the roof. Which mean you do lose a bit of space in the boot. I was not able to find out how much, but from my own observations, I guess it would be around 30%. There’s no spare in the boot of the C43 – instead you get an electric pump for emergencies.
Once you start the car, you immediately know that the drive is going to be a good experience. This generation of the AMG now comes with upgradeable AMG performance exhaust, a $2300 option which was on our review car. Not only does it sound as good as the last model, it sounds so much better. Don’t forget this is not a V8, it’s just a V6. The sound does reflect that, in the startup and drive, but it also sounds ready for serious action at any moment. It’s so much louder than before, even in Comfort mode, this new C43 makes noticeably more noise. With each upshift, you get little throttle blips between changes, and full-throttle acceleration will give lots of crackles and pops, and it’s not even in Sports mode yet.
The car as a whole is louder then you would expect even in Comfort mode. This also translated to motorway driving, where there was a bit of a steady drone from the exhaust due to the engine size. It was not annoying, but it was noticeable as you cruise at 100k/h in 9th gear.
The 9-speed gearbox was spot on, no complaints here, not one. I always judge something like this by how I can remember it, I can’t remember anything about it. This may sound odd or even stupid, but that just means I never really noticed it do anything wrong or out of place. The transmission just did everything I asked of it, when it was asked, perfect.
If there is one thing AMG have always been known for, its sound, and the C43 does not disappoint. It’s loud in Comfort mode, and even more so when you drive it in Sport mode.
It goes from a performance car to something that sounds more like a serious factory race car. This was all made that bit more theatrical without having a roof in the way.
The C43’s handling in Comfort mode is pretty good, everything feels sharp and smooth, while delivering good feeling back to the driver. Once you switch over to Sport mode, things start to tighten up. The suspension gets stiffer and the transmission becomes lightning quick.
From standstill you can get the AMG C43 up to 100km/h in just under 5 seconds. That’s quick, but not uncommon for performance cars over the last few years. But when you remember it’s a V6, it’s still impressive. The power delivery is strong, constant and controllable. Where this car shines is not the speed, but when you change gears. On the upshift you get a thunderous array of pops and crackles from the exhaust, that shoots a grin from ear to ear. The only downside is that it’s too quick, bang, bang, bang, and you’re at the speed limit. You are always just left wanting more.
The great thing about the new C43 is that it runs the 4Matic all-wheel drive system. It may not be as adventurous as the older rear wheel drive models, but it’s a damn side safer in all conditions. In the older rear wheel drive models, you needed to know when and where to use the power. Not anymore, the AWD system lets you put down all the power you want in almost every condition.
For some reason the C43 and C63 cabriolet do not come with a HUD’s or the option to have them. I think this must be due to the new driver’s dash which might take up the room available for a HUD. I never really found it to be an issue, but it’s never a bad thing to have, considering most vehicles at this price tag would have one.
Additional to the Airscarf system there is another system to help with comfort within the cabin with the roof down. The AirCap system is made up of two devices, one above the windscreen and the other behind the rear seats. When activated, a spoiler-like panel is deployed from the top of the windscreen to increase the drag of the car by creating a large pocket of undisturbed air over the cabin. This can’t really be seen when driving, but when you stop or from a by stander’s positon it looks pretty stupid, amost like a weird cheap addon you get from WISH. The second device is between the two rear headrests, which pops up to reduce buffeting air within the cabin space. Once on, this helps to keep the air movement within the cabin to a similar level as having a window half open. I was really impressed with how both systems worked, granted they could look better, but sometimes form follows function to create the best environment for the occupants.
Fuel consumption is not something I feel you should be concerned about if you buy an AMG model. It will never be efficient, and if you like the sound, it will only make things worse. Over 500ks in my week in the C43, I averaged 13.7L/100km. Which is higher than Fred when he tested the Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 Saloon. The advertised number is 10.0, I am not sure I could every drive it that efficiently.
High performance 4-seater convertibles are a dying breed, very few options on the market these days. Audi may have an S5 or RS5 convertible on the way, but they had nothing when we did this review. Ford offer the Mustang GT, which may not be at the same quality level you get from the Merc, but it is almost half the price.
|Brand/Model||Engine||Power/Torque||0-100kph, seconds||Fuel, L/100km||Seats||Boot Capacity,|
|Price Highest to Lowest|
|Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 Cabriolet||V8, 4-litre bi-turbo||375kW/700Nm||4.1||10.7||4||360||$193,400|
|BMW M4 Competition Convertible||3-litre straight 6 M TwinPower Turbo||331kW/5550Nm||4.3||8.7||4||368||$191,100|
|Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 Cabriolet||V6, 3-litre bi-turb||287kW/520Nm||4.8||9.4||4||360||$141,400|
|Ford Mustang GT Convertible||5.0 Ti-VCT V8||339kW/5556m||4.3||12.7||4||332||$85,990|
The Pros and Cons
They may be a diminishing breed, as we all move towards some sort of economic SUV world. But there is no denying that the AMG C43 Cabriolet is a great car, which gives you a little something that might be missing from our busy lives: exhilarating freedom.
As much as I love performance coupes, there is no comparison to the feeling of driving a high performance car with the roof down and the wind in your hair. It’s great to be rid of that extra bit of metal and glass which muffles some of that amazing engine & exhaust note.
As a middle-aged grey haired man, I found that I got a look of looks with the roof down. They must all be thinking I am having a midlife crisis. Little do they know, that it would be a pretty good crisis from behind the wheel of this AMG.
It’s not for everyone, it’s not that practical, and it’s not very cheap. But it’s great fun to drive, exhilarating to experience and a stunning piece of performance engineering.
Rating – Chevron rating (4 out of 5)
2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 Cabriolet
|Vehicle Type||High-performance Cabriolet AWD|
|Price as Tested||$143,900|
|Engine||3-litre, twin turbo V6 petrol|
|Spare Wheel||Electric pump|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||n/a|
|Length x Width x Height, mm||4686x1810x1442|
|Cargo Capacity, litres||360|
|Fuel Economy, L/100km||Advertised Spec – combined – 10.0|
Real World Test – combined – 13.9
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
|Fuel tank capacity, litres||66|
|Turning circle, metres|| 12.1m|
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
|Warranty||Three year, unlimited kilometre, Owner Protection Plan|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 Star|