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  •   Richard Meaden reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Test location: Merče, Slovenia
    GPS: 45.70378, 13.90603
    Mercedes-AMG C63 S Cabriolet

    Is it possible to build a mass-produced sports cabriolet without all the normal drop-top compromises?

    Choosing between the C63 and C63 S is simple. Because even though the s costs £6910 more, the 4-litre twinturbo V8 is recalibrated to produce 503bhp (34bhp more than the non-S), you also get an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, active engine mounts and a Race transmission mode. And choosing which body style to go for is simple: it’s the coupe, surely? The saloon and estate have a less sophisticated multilink rear axle than the coupe and the new Cabriolet, and because the Cabriolet doesn’t have a fixed roof, it will be a heavy, wobbly mess by comparison. Won’t it?

    Well, the Cabriolet is indeed heavier. The drop-top C63 S, despite not having a complicated and heavy metal folding roof, is still a whopping 1925kg – 200kg more than the coupe. However, that extra heft has only dulled the performance slightly. The C63 s Cabriolet is only 0.2sec slower to 62mph than the coupe, with a time of 4.1sec. Its top speed isn’t far off the coupe’s either – both are limited to the obligatory 155mph unless you specify the AMG Driver’s Package, then the Cabriolet is limited to 174mph, just 6mph shy of the coupe’s top speed. From the driver’s seat, the Cabriolet’s performance deficit is imperceptible, the big V8’s 516lb ft from as low as 1750rpm making triple-figure speeds incredibly easy to reach.

    Sadly, the extra bracing that makes up the bulk of the added weight hasn’t compensated for the lack of a roof. You can feel the steering wheel move laterally in your hands, and if you select the firmer damper setting, the motion is exaggerated. When the roof is up, there’s also the odd squeak and rattle where it meets the windscreen. In lesser C-class drop-tops with smaller engines, such as the C43 and C220, the body copes much better and doesn’t exhibit the C63’s structural shortfalls.

    The Cabriolet’s lack of a roof does, however, allow you better access to the thunder emitted from the C63’s four exhausts. At start-up and idle the sound is a deep wuffling noise, typical V8, but as the revs rise it transforms into something more akin to a .50-calibre machine gun. It’s brash, and with the exhaust in its loudest setting, borderline offensive, but it’s still hugely entertaining. The gearbox is the same seven-speed unit in all V8 AMGs except the AMG GT. It’s not a dual-clutch ’box, but it’s almost as quick and as crisp as one. The only gripe is that if you wait until the red line to change gear, the shift is slow and stunts your progress. You have to change when the lights on the dash prompt you to, but that robs you of the satisfaction of revving the engine out.

    The Cabriolet might not have the rigidity of the coupe, but it does have the same lairy low-speed character. With enough throttle, it will light up its rear tyres out of slow corners and the combination of a tightly wound e-diff and quick steering means the resulting slide is effortless.

    The coupe’s greatest skill is that its limits remain approachable even at much higher speeds. The supremely controlled chassis works in perfect harmony with the predictable rear axle and torquey engine so you have complete confidence up to and around its limits of grip. Sadly, the drop-top just isn’t as dependable.

    It doesn’t instil you with the same confidence because the lack of rigidity means you can’t feel what’s going on at tarmac level in as much detail. From turn-in to exit, it has a less aggressive attitude and doesn’t respond to your inputs with the same immediacy. You can’t tighten your line with the throttle in quicker corners, not that there’s understeer to combat, and it isn’t as satisfying as the way you can control the rear tyres with the throttle in the coupe.

    The coupe, then, is still the pick of the C63 range, but the Cabriolet is almost as much fun thanks to its colossal engine and wonderfully progressive rear end.

    Specification #2016 / #Mercedes-AMG-C63-S-Cabriolet / #Mercedes-AMG-C63-S-Cabriolet-A205 / #Mercedes-Benz-AMG-C63-S-Cabriolet-A205 / #Mercedes-AMG / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz-A205 / #Mercedes-Benz-W205 / #AMG / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Klasse / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Klasse-205
    Evo rating 4+
    Engine #V8 , 3982cc, twin-turbo CO2 208g/km
    Power 503bhp @ 5500-6250 rpm
    Torque 516lb ft @ 1750-4500rpm
    0-62mph 4.1sec (claimed)
    Top speed 155mph (limited)
    Weight 1925kg (265bhp/ton)
    Basic price £68,115

    + A born hooligan
    - Flex in the body takes away some of the control

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  •   Richard Meaden reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Test location: Shingay cum Wendy, Cambridgeshire. Photography: Aston Parrott #Mercedes-AMG-C43-Estate-S205 vs. #BMW-340i-Touring-F31 . Which of these performance compact estate rivals delivers the fullest package? / #BMW-340i-Touring / #BMW-340i-F31 / #BMW-F31 / #BMW / #BMW-340i / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-S205 / #Mercedes-AMG-S205 / #Mercedes-Benz-S205 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-AMG / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Class-205 / #BMW-3-Series / #BMW-3-Series-F31 / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Klasse / #Mercedes-Benz-C-Klasse-205

    It’s going to take a while for us to get used to this new breed of AMG-lite. We’ve come to expect that cars from Affalterbach will be slightly unhinged, wild, tyre-smoking hooligans. The new C43, however, feels like it’s been created by a different branch of AMG, one run by engineers who value speed and grip over enjoyment, engineers who haven’t had one too many steins of Weissbier. Engineers who created the A45 AMG. But perhaps we shouldn’t get too hung up on that, because by forgoing an exotic V8 engine in favour of a 367hp twin-turbo 3-litre #V6 , the C43 brings an AMG C-class within reach of a wider audience…

    The 340i replaces the 335i in the 3-series F30 line-up, and uncharacteristically for a BMW, it isn’t adorned with a plethora of ‘M’ badges. It isn’t even part of BMW’s semi-hot ‘M Performance’ range. It’s just a normal car, albeit quite a powerful one.

    The 340i’s new 3-litre, twin-scroll single-turbo engine produces 325hp and 450nm of torque, which make it good for a 0-100km/h time of 5.1sec. not bad for a non-M model.

    Its supple, cosseting ride quality certainly doesn’t make it feel much like a performance car, and when trundling down the road with the driving mode set to Comfort, the 340i is a very pleasant place to be. on the move the chassis feels noticeably sharper when you select either of the Sport or Sport+ driving modes.

    Thanks to a more aggressive throttle map, the engine feels more urgent too. Some of the ride quality diminishes, but the 340i now reacts more eagerly to steering inputs thanks to less body roll. The engine also makes more noise, but while the exhaust emits a deep but subtle growl for those outside, the soundtrack inside the cabin is mostly breathy. Stretch the engine to its lofty – by today’s standards – 7000rpm rev limit and it begins to emit a more satisfying timbre, although it’s still far from spine-tingling.

    The eight-speed automatic gearbox slots each gear into place almost instantly, but despite the speedy changes the drivetrain never feels that urgent, even when cranked up to its highest setting; stand on the throttle and you have to wait momentarily for momentum to build before there’s a reaction. Once the power has found its way to the rear wheels, though, you can really feel them helping the back of the car around a corner. These transparent and innately rear-drive characteristics are so delightful to exploit that the BMW encourages you to push harder and drive faster.

    Sadly the chassis begins to show its humble, estate-car roots the quicker you go. The front-end doesn’t possess the sort of grip we’ve come to expect of a modern performance car, and unless you’re very careful and measured with your steering inputs the 340i readily stumbles into understeer. Proportionally, there’s more rear-end grip than front, but that means the influence the throttle has on the back axle rarely escalates into anything very exciting. Try really hard to induce a slide and the rear feels very heavy, leaning considerably over the outside wheel. Then once grip has been lost, the body roll and lack of a limited-slip diff mean the resulting slide is scruffy, making you feel ham-fisted.

    The BMW runs on a Bridgestone Potenza S001, a tyre we’ve been impressed with on other cars. However, whether it’s the weight of the 340i or the alterations BMW has made to the tyre (the star on the sidewalls denotes it has been specifically adapted for BMW), these Potenzas feel less like an ultra high performance tyre and more like a summer touring one.

    this new AMG C43 shares its spangly grille with lesser C-classes, so it looks pretty sober. only the four exhausts give the game away that this is no ordinary estate. Inside there’s hardly an abundance of AMG cues, either, but the car’s intentions are clear from the moment you drive off. The chassis is much firmer than that of the BMW, even in its more comfortable modes, and the steering, although light, is very quick.

    On paper the Mercedes has the BMW covered, with that 367hp supported by 520nm of torque, resulting in a 0-100km/h time of 4.7sec. this is reflected by an eagerness to the C43’s drivetrain that the 340i could only wish for – the rev-counter needle dashes around the dial as if on a vacuum – although the twin-turbo V6 doesn’t rev as high as the BMW’s straight-six. The nine-speed auto gearbox is quick, with sharp, crisp changes that better those of a lot of double-clutch systems. Sadly, to avoid confusing the drivetrain and causing a long pause before the power comes back in, you need to change up by around 6200rpm.

    The C43’s chassis doesn’t change dramatically between each of its drive modes. However, the dampers can be softened off separately should you want the slightly more pliant ride with the more immediate throttle map. Keep the engine, gearbox and suspension in their sportiest settings and there’s almost no slack in any of the controls. The C43 changes direction instantly, the chassis more than capable of keeping up with the quick steering.

    But as taut and responsive as the Mercedes is, it’s the sheer speed of the car that’s most remarkable. The 4Matic four-wheel-drive system contributes to an incredible amount of grip that means B-roads can be dispatched with disconcerting ease.

    You can throw anything at the C43 and it remains unruffled, but this incredible competence comes at the expense of any real interaction. The throttle doesn’t change the attitude of the car: a lift is as ineffectual as standing on the accelerator midcorner, the C43 staying glued to its original trajectory. Only a lot of speed and some tactical left-foot braking will eventually induce some reluctant movement from the rear axle. The AMG’s incredible capability goads you to drive faster and faster in an attempt to instigate some sort of reaction, but it’s near impossible to maintain the speeds needed for the C43 to come alive on the road.

    Having such performance available in small estate cars is, in itself, fantastic, and both the BMW and AMG are talented in their own ways. The #BMW doesn’t purport to be a performance car and it doesn’t quite have the power and pace to match the overtly sporty #AMG , but it certainly holds its own in this test, being involving and rewarding to drive if kept within its limits. By contrast the C43 can be aloof. With unrelenting grip and composure it never shows a playful side, making it difficult to fall for. Its sheer competence means it wins this test, but it wins few friends in the process.

    ‘An incredible amount of grip means the C43 can dispatch B-roads with disconcerting ease’

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATION #Mercedes-AMG C43 #4Matic Estate / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-Estate / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-Estate-S205 / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-Estate / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-T-Modell / #Mercedes-AMG-T-Modell / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-T-Modell-S205 / #Mercedes-AMG-C43-4Matic-T-Modell-S205

    Engine V6, 2996cc, twin-turbo / CO2 181g/km
    Power 367hp @ 5500-6000rpm DIN
    Torque 520nm @ 2000-4200rpm DIN
    Transmission 9-speed auto
    0-100 km/h 4.7sec (claimed)
    Top speed 250km/h (limited)
    Weight 1660kg (225hp/ton)
    Basic price tba contact Cycle & Carriage 6298 1818

    + incredibly fast and composed
    - difficult to engage with
    Rating 4+

    Engine in-line 6-cyl, 2998cc, turbocharged CO2 158g/km
    Power 325hp @ 5500-6500rpm DIN
    Torque 450nm @ 1380-5000rpm DIN
    Transmission 8-speed auto ( #ZF8HP / #ZF )
    0-100 km/h 5.1sec (claimed)
    Top speed 250km/h (limited)
    Weight 1615kg (205hp/ton)
    Basic price Special indent only
    Contact Performance Motors, 6319 0100

    + Feel some rear-drive chassis
    - Easy to drive it beyond its BMW 340i Touring #BMW-F30 comfort zone
    Rating 4++
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