Are wagons making a comeback? Volvo is sticking to their wagons with the newly redesigned V60 and V90. Audi just introduced the RS6 Avant. And Mercedes-Benz is still producing wagon versions of the C-class and E-class. So, are wagons making a comeback? I hope so.
Engine – The heart of the Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG is a biturbo 3.0L V6 that produces 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. While the more powerful 4.0L biturbo V8 is not available in wagon form, having nearly 400 hp under your right foot is more than enough for 98% of wagon owners. The C43 Wagon can accelerate to 100km/h in just 4.1 seconds but behind the wheel, it feels as though its going faster. Like many other turbocharged engines, peak torque is achieved at low rpms and is sustained for the majority of the rpm range. There is quite a noticeable turbo threshold at lower rpms so if you plant your foot at 1,300 rpms for example, it’ll take a second and a bit before the turbos fully spool up and provide power. But at higher rpms, there’s virtually no lag.
Officially the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C43 can achieve up to 8.9 L/100km (26.4 mpg) on a highway and 12.4 L/100km (19 mpg) in a city. But because there was an AMG badge on the back of this car and it made some lovely sounds at higher rpms, I only averaged 13.0 L/100km (18.1 mpg) during my time with it. I definitely could have been much lighter on the throttle pedal but I was having too much fun.
Transmission – Mercedes’ AMG Speedshift TCT 9-speed (a bit of a mouthful) automatic transmission swaps cogs automatically or when you pull on the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. In normal Comfort mode, the shifts are smooth enough however the 8-speed in the new BMW 330xi is just a tad smoother. In Sport and Sport+ modes, the AMG 9-speed is very quick on the upshifts and it blips the engine on the down shifts accompanied by some nice burbles from the exhaust.
Braking – Stopping the C43 AMG Wagon takes no effort at all. With 4-piston brake calipers and 360mm discs up front, you only need to gently tap the brake pedal and it’ll stop the car. Ok I am exaggerating a bit but in everyday driving situations, you never need to push too hard on the brake pedal to stop. Under emergency situations, the pedal feels solid and the car quickly comes to a stop. Emergency automatic braking is also a standard feature on the C43 AMG.
Handling – With an AMG tuned front axle and a wider track, the Mercedes C43 AMG Wagon is a joy to drive around twisty mountain roads. While it doesn’t have the 4Matic+ AWD system of other AMG models, the C43 wagon’s 4Matic AWD system provides tonnes and tonnes of grip. A 31:69 front-to-rear torque bias keeps understeer at bay when coming out of a corner as well as unnecessary oversteer. It feels planted. Steering feel is very good as the steering effort is nicely balanced between Sporty driving in Sport & Sport+ and ease of maneuvering on city streets in Comfort mode.
Ride Comfort – With adaptive suspension, the C43 AMG Wagon can be suited to the driver’s preferences. In its softest setting, the suspension absorbs most bumps with ease however over some small quick bumps, the shock can be felt through the seats. In its stiffest setting, you will need to play Minesweeper to dodge some of the worse potholes on city streets. In this setting, the suspension is not quite as stiff as on the Hyundai Veloster N but it can be a bouncy ride over poorly maintained streets.
The front seats are very supportive with large side and thigh bolsters. But shorter people may have issues getting into them due to the large and stiff thigh bolsters. No such issues for me at 6’4”.
Interior Space – Front occupants have a good amount of legroom and headroom. Taller individuals may feel like there’s not enough headroom but the AMG seats can go down by quite a bit. Rear occupants also have enough room so long as they’re not over 6’2”. Taller individuals will be struggling for legroom. The trunk can accommodate up to 460L with the rear seats up and 1,480L with the seats down. That’s within 100L of what compact SUVs can accommodate.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The C43 AMG can be both quiet and loud at the push of a button and depending on how much throttle you apply. When travelling around town or on a highway, it’s as quiet as any other luxury car. Turn on the active exhaust and it becomes a screamer… but only at higher rpms. In Sport+ mode and with the exhaust on, at lower rpms it’s not as loud as I expected an AMG car to be. It’s only when you go past 3,500 rpms does the C43 start to shout. Also with every upshift near the redline, the exhaust produces very loud bangs that can be heard from at least a block away, maybe more.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The 2019 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Wagon starts at $59,900 CAD and when fully loaded with all options, that price jumps to $83,450 CAD (before fees & taxes). The C43 comes with everything that one would ever need … except for a heated steering wheel. That’s a bit odd in a cold country like Canada. But apart from that little oversight it is very well equipped even if you opt for the base car with no options. You’ll still get heated seats, panoramic sunroof, bluetooth, ambient lighting, keyless start, emergency automatic braking, blind spot sensors, LED headlights, AMG performance exhaust, AMG ride control suspension, and AMG dynamic select to name a few. Honestly, I would be perfectly happy with just the base C43 AMG without any options.
Exterior Design – The C43 has a few exterior tweaks compared to the standard C300 Wagon. The grille only has one horizontal bar instead of two but the air intakes in the bumper have 2 horizontal bars whereas the C300 doesn’t have any. Around back the C43 has a more pronounced rear diffuser along with quad exhaust pipes. The taillights remain the same on the C43 as on the C300.
Interior Design – The 2019 C43 AMG doesn’t have the new dual screen layout of the A250 Hatch but it still looks modern and fresh on the inside. This particular demo has the 12.3” driver digital display and a 10.25” infotainment screen. Unfortunately it’s not a touchscreen so it can only be controlled by the rotary knob & touch pad on the center console or by the right touchpad on the steering wheel. There’s just enough aluminum and carbon fiber trim throughout the car and it is illuminated nicely at night by the ambient lighting.
In all the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Wagon is a perfect all-rounder. It has more than enough power for most, it handles brilliantly, and it can carry just as much cargo as a compact SUV. So why are SUVs more popular when a wagon can carry just as much and is better to drive? I can’t figure that question out because I’d rather have the wagon over the SUV.
Thank you to Mercedes-Benz Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mercedes-Benz.ca