Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: October 25, 2017
It takes quite a bit of engineering to build a vehicle that can do anything and everything, and by that I mean offering comfort, luxury, functionality, and performance in one cohesive package. It’s not easy, and to some it’s viewed as somewhat of an engineering miracle, but I think the E 43 AMG has come quite close to achieving just that.
The Mercedes-AMG E 43 4MATIC Sedan is the middle child in the E Class mid-size sedan line up, neatly sandwiched between the civilian E 300 and unhinged E 63. To fill in the 400-hp void between the two, Mercedes has slotted the E 43 to do the duty of both, the symmetrical middleman that aims for the sweet spot, functioning as both a highway cruiser and a Sunday corner carver.
On paper, the E 43’s Goldilocks formula looks all fine and dandy: a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine (which every other “-43” AMG uses) that produces a healthy 396 hp and 384 lb-ft, all-wheel drive (split 31:69 front to rear), a 9-speed automatic transmission, and even a coveted AMG badge. But don’t let that moniker fool you into thinking this is a full-blown track car, though. The E 43 is a half measure gin but another half measure tonic.
It’s not a full blown AMG in the least, but the E 43’s rear-biased AWD setup and nicely weighted steering lets it stay focused around the bends and turn with grace and ease. The fluffy twin-turbo V6 spools up quicker than you can say Affalterbach, and the polished 9-speed flings the E 43 from 0-100 km/h in a speedy 4.6 seconds, which is 1.8 seconds quicker than the four-cylinder E 300. Power is abundant and delivered in the most non-turbo-like fashion: linearly. Speed builds quickly but without that surprise shove in the back when the turbo finally springs to life. I wouldn’t say driving the E 43 is goosebump-summoning fun, but it’s a comfortable dancing partner that never takes a step too far ahead of you.
The 9-speed gearbox is wonderful and has been specially tuned for the E 43 to deliver quicker and crisper shifts. Gear changes are creamy smooth and all but unnoticeable until you select the overly aggressive and prickly Sport+ mode, where it exhibits jerkiness and lugging at low speeds in low gears.
In Comfort mode however, the standard air suspension and adaptive dampers team up to offer a calm and collected ride around town where the tarmac is smooth. The air suspension can raise the car by 35 mm for better ground clearance too, and will lower 15 mm when above 125 km/h for better aerodynamics. Be that as it may, the E 43 is noticeably stiffer than its competitors, namely the BMW M550i and Jaguar XF S, and crashes hard into potholes rather than gliding over them, to the point that a small pothole would jolt all of my napping passengers awake - serves them right, I guess. Perhaps the smaller 19-inch wheels would fare better than our 20s, but still, no matter the suspension setting, the harsh adaptive quality of the ride was detrimental to the drive.
On the bright side, the E 43 has got some decent vocal chords. The V6 produces a high pitched mechanical wail, similar to the SLC 43 (check out our exhaust video of that here), and there are even some burbles emitted in Sport+ Mode. It lacks the bass and lower octave tones offered in the V8-powered BMW M550i, but the soundtrack is nevertheless pleasing to the ears.
The step up from an E 300 to an E 43 isn’t so much visual as it is mechanical. However there are a few clues that give the E 43 away, such as the Biturbo and AMG badging, diamond front grill, black window surrounds, twin tailpipes, exclusive wheel designs, and a subtle lip spoiler. It’s definitely one of the more attractive sedans in the Benz portfolio, but therein lies the rub. From afar I can hardly tell the difference between an E-Class and a C-Class without squinting and analyzing the headlight designs and assessing the vehicle length, and I’ve tested and put some big miles on both vehicles. What bugs me is that even the base C 300 can be optioned out with a diamond front grill, so why can’t the E?
Which is not to say the E 43 doesn’t sport a handsome suit. I dig the looks, and it’s definitely a car I can see myself living with for many years. An added plus is in the engine bay. I know buyers rarely ever peek under the hood, especially the executives and accountants that generally own E-Classes, but AMG actually put some colour into there, highlighting the cover with a solid red. Neat.
The interior is where most of the money went. The design is carried over from the E 300 but with more standard features like the wide 12.3-inch infotainment screen that runs across the dashboard and merges with the driver’s gauges. The clever use of continuous ambient lighting further emphasizes and accentuates the expansive dashboard and highlights its undulating curves, giving it a layer of depth.
Also standard are heated front seats, the panoramic sunroof, illuminated door sills, and nappa leather upholstery. The E 43 gets exclusive access to the AMG Driver’s Package ($1,000), which adds 20-inch wheels, summer performance tires, and the AMG steering wheel from the mighty E 63. It’s one of my favourite steering wheels, ranked just under the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s and just above the BMW M3’s. The circumference of it is wrapped in leather with suede inserts on the 9-3 grip areas. The paddle shifters have short travel but feel expensive and sturdy.
Some neat and notable features include the ability for the driver to control the passenger seat via a dedicated button. Simply push it and use your own seat controls to adjust theirs. This also includes switching on the heated seats (and heated armrests for those who’ve opted for the Premium Package).
The sport seats that come with the E 43 are grand. The massaging feature is more effective than the weak and lethargic ones in the BMW. It kneads and knurls hard enough into your back and buttocks to feel pleasing. I just wish it was easier to switch them on instead of clicking through multiple submenus via the infotainment just to get to them. Give me a dedicated button! The seats also come with active side bolsters, which will automatically tighten up depending on which way the car is turning. Turn the car right, and the left side bolster will clamp inwards, keeping your body level and free from body roll. The front passenger seat gets them too, so they aren’t being juggled around while you’re off driving spiritedly.
We have a few gripes with the E 43: there is no heated steering wheel option, a Canadian favourite, and a near dealbreaker when you consider the fact that economy cars like the Kia Optima have them installed. The signal and gear stalks also feel a bit plasticky and cheap, and are no different from the ones you find in the base CLA 250 (fun fact: the Infiniti QX30 and Tesla Model S also use these stalks). We also noticed some shimmies along the dashboard at low speeds, but that could be vehicle specific to our press car.
The E 43 4MATIC aims to concoct the perfect formula with a golden symmetry of power and luxury. For the most part, it hits that sweet spot. The E 43 isn’t as mental and wild as the E 63 but it’s not soft and sober like the E 300 either. It offers a bipolar attitude that goes hand in hand with its expensive interior and wonderful seats. If the ride quality was better, I’d call it a winner in this segment, but instead I’m stuck here torn between the E 43 and the lustful V8 power and more refined ride offered by the BMW M550i. Each offer their own strengths and weaknesses, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide which traits hold more weight in your heart.
型号 Model: 2017 Mercedes-AMG E 43 4MATIC Sedan
顏色 Paint Type: Iridium Silver
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $79,900
試車售價 Price as Tested: $89,700
引擎 Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 396 hp @ 6,100 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 384 lb-ft @ 2,500 - 5,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.5