The Mercedes AMG C43 Estate provides plenty of performance and aural drama, but at the end of the day, there are more practical, higher quality fast estates available
Performance estate cars are a rare thing, and it’s easy to forget the Mercedes AMG C43 Estate while the C63 Estate steals the limelight with more power and more presence. Don’t shun the C43, however, because it still offers big AMG performance, a great noise and lots of luxury – and for a considerably reduced cost.
This generation of the Mercedes AMG C43 Estate was first launched in 2015 but has been given a facelift for 2018. The changes begin with more power from its turbocharged V6, while outside there are new alloy wheel designs in both 18 and 19-inch sizes, a revised rear diffuser and different sports exhaust tips.
Inside you’ll find a new nappa leather sports steering wheel with redesigned multifunction buttons and selectors for the car’s driving modes and traction control settings. There’s also a new optional 12.3-inch digital cockpit which swaps the car’s standard analogue dials for a more visually appealing digital set that’s crammed with customisable information.
Other than that, the Mercedes AMG C43 Estate is familiar inside, with a dashboard design that is more striking than that in an Audi S4 Avant or BMW 340i Touring, but prodding and poking it reveals the Audi’s is the more solidly constructed.
As standard, the Mercedes AMG C43 Estate comes with a 10.3-inch infotainment display controlled via a touchpad and menu shortcut buttons between the front seats. The system is visually impressive, but you’ll have an easier time navigating the menus in an Audi S4 Avant and BMW 340i Touring than the Merc’s, with their more logical menu structures and better rotary dial controllers.
As with more humdrum versions of the Mercedes C-Class Estate, front passenger space is more than adequate, though the driving position is very slightly skewed on right-hand drive cars. At least the C43’s standard sports seats are superbly figure hugging and the optional (and expensive) Performance seats are more impressive still.
Taller adults will find the rear is a little more cramped than you’d expect, and more importantly, than in an Audi S4 Avant, while the C43 Estate’s 460-litre boot is more than adequate for most, but is less than the capacity of the S4 and BMW 340i Touring.
There’s no shame in having C43 written on the back of your C-Class rather than C63: the ‘43 sounds great, is very quick and decently comfortable when you want it to be
Rather than the V8 engine of the C63, the C43 Estate makes do with a turbocharged V6 that produces 390hp. The reality is, the C43 is just 0.6 seconds behind the ‘63 in a sprint to 62mph from standstill, and it makes a similarly intoxicating noise getting there too.
On a track, the difference is just enough to be noticeable, but on the road, the C43 rarely feels any slower when accelerating down a slip road or pulling out to overtake.
And, rather than rear-wheel drive, the Mercedes AMG C43 Estate features a rear-biased all-wheel-drive system, as well as a smaller spread of driving modes controlling the weight of the steering, throttle response, suspension firmness and exhaust note. The result is a car that feels less playful than a C63 when you have the room to push it hard, but more sure-footed in the wet – which will be welcome on grimy UK roads in winter.
Ultimately, the C43 Estate doesn’t steer quite as crisply at a BMW 340i Touring, but it feels more engaging than an Audi S4 Avant. When it comes to engine noise and road presence, though, its rival licked.
Dial everything back to Comfort mode and the Mercedes AMG C43 Estate plays the relaxing cruiser very well. Sure, there’s a bit of tyre noise at high speeds, but there’s little wind noise and the car’s suspension is supple enough to ensure things stay comfortable at the same time.
The Mercedes AMG C43 Estate is well worth considering. Don’t kid yourself into thinking it’ll be cheap to run – it won’t be next to the lesser diesel and petrol C-Class options. But, if you want performance and accept the costs that go with it, then the C43 Estate is a good deal cheaper to buy and run than the range-topping C63, yet not a lot slower or any less easy on the ear.