Now the seasonal festivities are over it’s probably a good time to blow the last of the cobwebs away, and what could be better to clear the head than a nice, practical estate car?
Yes, you did read that correctly, I really am suggesting that a big, lumbering, eminently practical, back-end-in-the-next-county, estate car is capable of clearing the head and leaving you ready to take on anything 2017 cares to throw at you. Trust me, at the very least you’ll be able to clear the detritus of Christmas and New Year in one trip to the bottle bank, although it’s more likely you’ll be as blown away as I was when I took the Mercedes-Benz C43 estate out for a spin.
The secret to this wonderful example of practicality is encapsulated in three letters, AMG. Some of you may recall that the last time I included these letters in a review they were attached to the insanely powerful C63 S and the results were spectacularly ridiculous, and I still want one. This time I’m happy to report that the lunacy has been subdued, the wildly aggressive styling toned down, the ear-splitting noise quietened. This time the whole package is more refined and understated, more usable on a daily basis.
For a start the C43 looks like a regular Mercedes estate. The AMG styling is there but you need to look carefully before you notice. The AMG badges are discreet, the front splitter seamlessly moulded into the bodywork, the rear spoiler blended into the roof-line, the quad exhaust tailpipes integrated into the rear bumper. All the elements of the AMG brand are there but they’re incorporated into an elegant design that’s so much more pleasing on the eye, and less likely to leave people thinking you’re trying to compensate for a lack of “oomph” in the trouser department as you drive along.
Of course, being an AMG there is no chance you’ll find yourself lacking “oomph” in any department. It may look like a sensible estate but tucked under the bonnet is a 3.0-litre, Bi-Turbo V6 that utilises it’s 367 horses to propel you, and your festive recycling, to 60mph in under 5 seconds and on to an electronically limited 155mph. The C43 is fast by any definition, it just doesn’t shout about it. You can easily potter around town with one finger on the steering wheel and your big toe gently dabbing at the throttle and it won’t utter a word of complaint. The lovely burble that emanates from the exhaust won’t disturb anyone, there’s no sense of trying to restrain a rampaging mob. It’s quiet, docile and comfortable. The fact that it can leave almost every car you’re likely to pull up alongside at the lights standing is a secret nobody needs to know. Unless you decide to show them.
At this point I should say that childish exhibitions are best avoided. I should point out that the sheer joy of leaving a boy-racer in his modified hot hatch sitting in a cloud of tyre smoke isn’t worth the risk of a stern word from the local constabulary. I should also go on a diet and quit smoking but what is life if not an excuse to have fun occasionally? There’s no point in having an entire stable of German thoroughbreds under your right foot if you don’t take them for a run from time to time. I know a middle-aged man in an estate car should know better but when that estate car is this good it’s deeply satisfying to plant your right foot into the shag pile and whoop with delight as you approach the horizon at a velocity usually reserved for launching jets from an aircraft carrier. It’s an ESTATE for crying out loud!!!
I think that’s enough of these childish whims though, back to business. We’ve established that the C43 is very fast and doesn’t look it, but is it really a viable option? I realise this is only my opinion but I’d have to say, yes. The interior is simple and beautifully finished in leather, gloss black and aluminium. There’s huge amounts of space as you would expect, although a touch more rear headroom would be nice. It’s fitted with all of the high-tech wizardry you would expect from a premium car. There are the obligatory upgrade options available but even the base model comes with SatNav, Active Parking Assist, Dynamic Select driving modes, and adaptive cruise control that maintains the distance from the vehicle in front. My overriding impression was that once you know where all the buttons and dials are you could operate it with your eyes closed, although this is a course of action more likely to invoke the wrath of the police than being overly enthusiastic with the loud pedal.
Overall it’s hard to fault the Mercedes C43 Estate. Even the aforementioned rear headroom wouldn’t be enough to put me off, nor would I be overly disappointed if I couldn’t delve into the options list because everything you really need is already included. Even the fuel consumption is a bearable 35mpg which is remarkable given the performance capabilities and the fact it weighs nearly two tonnes. The only possible downside would be if it came with the massive price tag normally associated with an AMG, which it doesn’t. I’m not going to pretend it’s cheap because £44,660 is an awful lot of money but you do get an awful lot of car for your money. I was lucky enough to test a fully-loaded version but it still managed to come in under £49,000. I freely admit there aren’t many of us who could realistically afford one, it is a premium car after all, but being expensive doesn’t detract from the fact that the Mercedes C43 AMG is brilliant car that offers performance, looks and practicality in one superbly engineered package.