The Perfect-sized Luxury Wagon
When it comes to cars I have always liked mine on the smaller size. I drive a smaller pickup truck, and when my children where young I had a mini-van, not really small but adequate-sized for the job. Well, the Mercedes C 43 is for me the perfect-sized luxury vehicle, and it’s a wagon I like because it is the performance AMG model. Even better, and topping my wish list, is that it has all-wheel drive (AWD) capabilities.
If you’re not familiar with the AMG name, it is Mercedes’ designation for the performance models in the company line-up. The AMG models have special suspension, brakes and engine enhancements that add to the performance of the car. In the case of my test Wagon, it has a double overhead cam 3.0-litre Twin Turbo V6 with an enjoyable 385 horsepower, giving it very quick 0-100 km/h time in just 4.8 seconds.
All this power is rooted through a nine-speed quick shifting transmission, and a transfer case distributes this power to the front and rear differentials at a 30-front and 60-rear split. This I found was just about ideal for spirited driving around city streets. I have to add that this AWD system really enhanced the car’s manoeuvrability. If you are worried about hills, don’t as there is enough torque at 384 lb-ft of torque at low revolutions per minutes to pull away with any load in your car.
This comes together with a great handling car you feel confident driving in all weather or road conditions, and with its stiffer suspension handling, any curvy road in North Vancouver becomes fun again. Even just the mundane chores of driving to work or going shopping are enjoyable. I found visibility in the wagon good, so moving around a parking lot was not a worrisome effort. But most of all, I didn’t find the car cumbersome to drive like many SUVs. Yes, you are not sitting up high, but the good visibility makes up for it. The fact that you have an AWD makes the C 43 just as capable as any smaller SUV.
The dash is nicely laid out with the tachometer and speedometer as the main gauges in front of the driver, with different displays between the two. An upright centre mounted screen houses the GPS and many other important functions like the sound system. Switches below the screen control the basic cabin heating and cooling. I like this as you don’t have to spend time going through different screens to get to the basic functions. All the other plug-in devices are in the lower centre dash and console area Sport-oriented cars need an interior to match and the C 43 is no exception, with meters of black leather on comfortable well-bolstered front seats. Surprisingly they were easy to get in and out of unlike others I have tested in the past with a sporty pedigree. Now, they say the rear leather seat is for three, but I would say only in a pinch. You need to remember this is one of Benz’s mid-sized cars. As this is a wagon, the back area is good and if more cargo space is needed, the back seats fold in a 40/20/40 split which is nice for carrying longer items.
If you need the practicality of an SUV, but don’t particularly like the way most of them handle, the C 43 AMG wagon is one of the best alternatives in the sport/luxury vehicle class. I have to admit I really did not want to return this fine car. The test C-class AMG wagon lists for a base price of $59,900, and with a few key options the wagon totalled $76,380. It is well-worth the price considering the enjoyment this car will give the enthusiast driver or any driver for that matter.
MSRP: $59,900 as tested $76,380
Horsepower: 385 @ 6,100 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 384 @ 2,500 rpm
Gearbox: Nine-speed (speedshift) automatic
Fuel economy: City 12.4 L/100 km Highway 8.9 L/100 km
Photos: Courtesy of Mercedes Benz Vancouver