The C-Class is Merc’s best-selling nameplate and when there’s such a wide variety of model variants to choose from, that’s not really surprising. From saloons, coupes, estates and SUVs — there’s something for everyone, extroverts looking for maximum headspace included. The body style that garners the most attention is the convertible, and we bagged a test drive of the facelifted fifth-gen Merc-AMG C 43 Cabriolet to see just how much of an attention getter it is.
All eyes are on it due to the updates it has received as part of its 2019 refresh. Starting with the aesthetics, it features slightly slimmer and more angular LED High-Performance headlights than before with the AMG nose outfitted with a diamond twin-louver radiator grille, a single bisecting character line, a unique and beefier bumper treatment with new styling and larger intakes, as well as further chrome detailing where appropriate. There are minor tweaks to the side skirts while around the back, it sports LED taillights, round twin tailpipes and it rolls in style on 19in AMG five-spoke alloys.
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The cabin, trimmed in rich materials and offering an upscale atmosphere, does a very commendable impression of the S-Class in terms of overall refinement and it also packs lots of new tech and kit. Some of the highlights include new touch-sensitive control buttons on the AMG performance flat-bottom steering wheel, Airscarf neck-level heating (integrated into the new performance sport seats) and Aircap which helps to reduce cabin turbulence when you’ve got the top down by employing a wind deflector above the windshield. This creates an airflow barrier around its passengers meaning you don’t have to shout at them to be heard. In fact there are so many goodies to be found in here that you’d almost expect a suntan lotion dispenser too (well, this is a cabriolet...) alas, no such luck. Instead, you’ll have to make do with all sorts of wizbangery from a 10.5in infotainment display running the latest version of Mercedes-Benz’s Comand infotainment software (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard), a 12.3in digital instrument cluster behind the wheel, two USB ports, an SD card reader, Bluetooth to a plethora of safety features. These include attention assist, active brake assist, pre-safe, and adaptive braking technology and a 360-degree camera which relays the sharpest of images. You get good legroom upfront, but not so much at the back (kids won’t mind it there) and the boot is similarly compromised due to its narrow opening. My advice is to leave everyone at home and enjoy this 385 horsepower beauty yourself.
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The 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 has more than 20 horses over last year’s model, 520Nm of torque from 2,500 to 5,000rpm and is mated to a nine-speed automatic (with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles) that sends 61 per cent of torque to the back and 39 to the front. AMG has fettled with the drivetrain to help it hit 100kph from rest in just 4.8 seconds. You get four drive modes to choose from — Comfort, Eco, Sport and Sport Plus — and in the latter setting, the shifts are true and the throttle response is instant. As an added bonus, the exhaust sounds maniacal as it cackles and pops when you paddle it down a few ratios — it’s best enjoyed with the top folded away (which you can do on the move). On a fast, twisty road, the C 43 — with its adaptive suspension and grip in ready supply — remains resolutely composed and it displays all of that AMG attitude and agility when it’s called on, but when you’re not driving with your teeth clenched it doubles up as a fabulous boulevard cruiser.
If you are looking for a classy convertible that is exciting to drive and loves soaking up the attention, then look no further than this. It’s a visually and technically superb option into the performance world of Mercedes-AMG.