What are you driving?
This is the Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic saloon and, quite obviously from the numbers involved, this is the lesser of the AMG C-Class models. It's, conspicuously, not the V8, doesn't have giggle-inducing performance figures, nor an artillery barrage of noise, and isn't, generally, as desirable as its bigger brother.
Not quite, I feel. This V6-engined AMG often comes in for a bit of stick from critics, not because it's intrinsically not good, but just because it's not the V8. There's a point to that, I guess. If you're going to go AMG, you may as well go the whole eight-cylinder hog, but for a moment let's park the V8 issue and concentrate instead on the model in front of us. It benefits from the same updates as the rest of the C-Class range (styling and equipment updates, digital instruments, bigger infotainment screen) and more besides. The V6 engine gets a 23hp power boost to 390hp (still less than it gets in the E 43 AMG - go figure) and there is a new body kit that includes a lip spoiler for the boot, new twin-wing badge surround for the grille and new air intakes and aero-optimised alloy wheels. Basically, the styling changes bring the V6 AMG C-Class more into line with the looks of the V8 model (whoops, didn't mean to drag that up again).
Name its best bits
Well, the V6 engine, obvs. Yes, it's down on power compared both to the AMG 43 E-Class and the engine-which-must-not-be-named, but by any rational standards this is a cracking engine. It growls and snarls with intent when you fire it up, and roars and bellows most entertainingly, with a crackling overrun soundtrack when pressing on. It doesn't get the 'hot-vee' turbo layout of its bigger brother, but the twin turbos are still coupled close to the head, so throttle response is most definitely not lacking. Switch to Sport mode and, along with stiffer dampers, the accelerator speeds up and the exhaust adjusts to give even more sturm und drang.
The 4Matic four-wheel-drive system is a very good thing to have because even on a dry road, the C 43's 520Nm of torque is enough to have the tread blocks of the tyres squirming at full noise. Torque is biased towards the rear wheels, 69:31 rear:front, so it never feels like a ponderous all-paw chassis.
Steering feel is very good, weighty and meaty and with much more proper feedback than you get from the standard C-Class's rack, and while the ride is very firm, on the well-maintained German roads we were using, it wasn't an issue.
Anything that bugs you?
Well, the steering wheel itself, squared off on bottom and sides, feels a little odd (even if we do love the suede hand grips) and the big bucket seats, fabulous for anyone sitting in them, do rob legroom from the rear. Oh, and it's not the V8.
And why have you given it this rating?
The C 43 AMG is a huge amount of fun and a huge amount of car, for the money. Prices will only rise slightly from the current €73,165 when this revised model arrives in September, so it's far better value than the likes of the Audi RS 3 Saloon or BMW M2, which have similar power levels, but are based on much smaller, cheaper models. No, it's not the mighty V8 AMG C-Class, but if you seriously need to be able to go faster than this on the public road, then you are The Stig and I claim my €20.
I want to know more
Click here to read our first drive of the updated Mercedes-Benz C-Class diesel.