Viewed as a comfortable, versatile family tourer that also happens to be devilishly quick, there’s plenty to like about the revised C43 Estate. However, as the sort of out-and-out driver’s car, the picture it paints isn’t quite as convincing.
Let’s have a look at its strengths first, chief among which has to be the quality of its ride. The manner in which its suspension has been calibrated allows for an impressive amount of both pliancy and control, which translates to a nearly waft-like quality when travelling over undulating country roads at speed. It smooths out compressions with a cushioned confidence before exhibiting tight vertical control over the following crests. Compared with the previous C43 Estate, which we criticised for the unsettled manner in which it deals with these rolling road surfaces, it represents a solid improvement. You'd have little cause for the complaint at the prospect of driving one from London to Edinburgh, such is the civil nature of the ride.
The engine is a bit of a peach, too. It gives the C43 a turn of pace that would be easily capable of landing you in hot water with the constabulary if you’re not careful, while the AMG Performance exhaust fitted to our test car amplifies its aggressively sonorous bark. At crank speeds above 4000rpm, it sounds deliciously ferocious.
The interior, meanwhile, strikes an ideal balance between sporting intent and cultured, sophisticated refinement. The seats are cosseting and plenty supportive, while the brown leather they’re upholstered in (a £795 option) looks particularly smart - to our eyes, anyway.
The technology offering is decent, too; the 10.3in infotainment screen is clear and easy to read, if a little slow on start up, while the 12.3in digital instrument cluster (part of the £4995 Premium Plus package alongside an excellent Burmester sound system) is even more graphically slick.
So, the C43 impresses on the motorway and on faster country A-roads, and for many, its straight-line pace and refined dynamic manners will be enough of a selling point. But those who expect a healthy dollop of dynamic engagement from their AMG will likely be left wanting.
The nine-speed automatic transmission, for instance, can be irritatingly hesitant when manual mode is selected. Full-throttle upshifts have to be executed sooner than anticipated, else you find yourself slamming into the limiter some 250rpm earlier than is seemingly depicted.
And while the C43’s chassis displays useful balance and poise and body roll is tightly controlled through faster bends, the rear-biased nature of the 4Matic four-wheel drive system doesn’t make itself all that apparent. On a damp road, the threshold for overcoming the 225/40-section front tyres’ grip isn't particularly high and the fairly heavy-handed ESC system seems to mute everything before the rear axle can properly come into play, even when in its less restrictive setting.