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Mercedes-AMG 43s give the fast without the furious

Motoring

How much is enough power? If you're a Mercedes-Benz driver of a certain mindset – and healthy budget – there's no such thing as too much of it. With a rebel yell you cry more, more, more and find your mojo in an AMG 63-badged machine that's powerful enough to wheelspin new potholes into the tar.

Nothing but a turbocharged V8, hand-built to a one-man-one-engine policy in Affalterbach, will rock your world. The faster and more furious, the better.

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But there is an alternative to this power-uber-alles outlook, and it's called the AMG 43. Introduced to plug the gap between Merc's more bread-and-butter models and the venom-spitting AMG 63s, the six-cylinder AMG 43 cars are fast but without some of the furious.

The GLC and GLC Coupe SUVs (pictured below) have become the latest recipients of this 'AMG lite' package in South Africa, which pairs a 3-litre biturbo V6 with chassis, steering and suspension upgrades. 

Several other Benzes in the line up already carry the AMG 43 badge including the GLE sports utility vehicle, the SLC roadster, and the C-class (in sedan, coupé, and cabriolet guises).

The heart of the 43 models is the turbo V6 which pumps 270kW and 520Nm to both axles via 4Matic all-wheel drive (with the exception of the SLC which is pushed along by its rear wheels), and a 9G-Tronic (yes, nine-speed!) automatic sports transmission. All AMG 43 cars ride on adaptive air suspension with comfort and sport settings – again with the exception of the SLC which makes do with regular steel springs.

Mercedes-Benz South Africa presented some of its 43 collection to journalists at the AMG Driving Academy at the Zwartkops racetrack in Tshwane earlier this week.

I took the C43 coupé for a spin around the tight and twisty track, and I really enjoyed this engine. It feels fast and powerful without being blow-your-head-off brutal like the range-topping Mercedes-AMG C63 S. In truth there's very little opportunity to exploit the snorting 375kW of a C63 S on a public road, and the rear wheel drive car can be an intimidating beast which calls for a lot of driver skill. The 43 requires better-than-average wheelmanship too but with its lower outputs and all-wheel drive traction it is less angry, with performance that's more accessible to the average (non Lewis Hamilton) human being.

The performance figures are more than decent and every AMG 43 body shape (with the exception of the heavy GLE versions) is able to rock the 0-100km/h sprint in under five seconds according to Merc's figures, while top speeds are governed to 250km/h.

The AMG sports exhaust blurts a quite entertaining noise too, especially in Sports+ mode where there's a deep-throated crackle on throttle-lift. Sports+ is one of five AMG Dynamic Select transmission modes which affect the driving personality, the others being Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual.

The spirited straightline performance is matched with keen handling. The rear-biased all wheel drive system has a fixed 31/69 percent front/rear split which helped usher the C43 I drove around the circuit without the fun-sapping early understeer so dreaded by enthusiast drivers.

Speed-sensitive sports steering and enlarged brake discs complete the track-friendly driving package, ensuring the C43 stops and steers as well as it accelerates.

The AMG vibe is delivered visually in the exterior and interior too. Inside, this includes sports seats with contrasting red stitching, a bottom-flattened steering wheel, and an instrument cluster with tube-shaped round dials.

Together with the AMG 63s and the AMG GT supercar, never before have there been so many cars carrying the famed moniker and in this, AMG's 50th anniversary year, there are no less than 39 AMG derivatives.

MERCEDES-AMG 43 MODEL RANGE PRICING

Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic sedan R865 582

Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic coupé R935 282

Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic cabriolet R1 058 736

Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 roadster R1 044 012

Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4Matic R969 406

Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4Matic Coupé R1 080 362

Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 4Matic R1 215 706

Mercedes-AMG GLE 43 4Matic Coupé R1 308 786

* Prices include a PremiumDrive 6-years/ 100 000 km maintenance plan.

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