The coupe and cabriolet versions of the Mercedes-Benz C-class and the Mercedes-AMG C43 have come due for their mid-cycle facelift, examples of which will grace the Mercedes stand at the New York auto show later this month. You will be forgiven if you don’t quite see the difference, because the changes are modest. Mercedes claims the models are—what else—“sportier.”
That claim is bolstered by a slight power increase for both engines. The Mercedes-Benz C300’s turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four is bumped from 241 horsepower at 5500 rpm to 255 horsepower, available from 5800 to 6100 rpm. Maximum torque remains at 273 lb-ft, now served up from 1800 to 4000 rpm instead of the previous 1300 to 4000 revs. The Mercedes-AMG C43’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 previously made 362 horsepower at 5500 rpm; thanks to new turbos, output increases to 385 horsepower at a lofty 6100 rpm. Maximum torque remains at 384 lb-ft, but while it was previously delivered at 2000 rpm, it will henceforth be available between 2500 and 5000 rpm.
Getting those optimal revs should pose no problem, courtesy of the nine-speed automatic transmission that is standard on all C-class models. The sprint from zero to 60 mph takes a claimed 5.9 seconds for the C300 coupe; the C43 coupe is said to reach 60 in 4.5 seconds. The C300 cabriolet tacks on 0.2 second, while the C43 cabrio is 0.1 second behind the coupe. Top speed for all versions is governed at 130 mph. All-wheel drive is optional on the C300 and standard on the C43; the C43’s system has a more pronounced rearward torque bias of 69 percent versus 55 percent in the C300 4Matic.
No doubt of import to certain consumers will be that the C43s look faster than before. The grille’s new double-wing design is much closer in appearance to the AMG C63’s, the new front bumper is more aggressive, and the rear features a pronounced diffuser element. The four round exhaust outlets are fat and substantial, unlike the previous AMG C43’s pieces, which resembled the C300’s trapezoidal units cut in half. Visual changes to the C300 are less prominent, although LED headlights and taillights are now standard on all versions, and adaptive headlights are newly optional. An AMG Performance Studio package and an AMG Night package can turn up the visual wattage.
Inside, there is a 10.3-inch central infotainment screen as standard, a newly available 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and new steering wheels that feature touch-sensitive switches on their spokes. The driver-assistance systems are elevated nearly to the level of the S-class, with steering assist and the ability to perform lane changes with the touch of the turn-signal stalk.
The C-class’s interior is as beautiful as they come, and there is a plethora of available decor options ranging from classic wood to the AMG’s typical carbon-fiber trim. The analog clock is still there but wireless device charging is new, as is haptic feedback for the touch-sensitive COMAND controller.
The C-class is positioned within a set of competitors that includes the Audi A5, the BMW 4-series, the Cadillac ATS, and the Lexus RC. The 2019 C300 and C43 models will come to market in late 2018 at prices close to those for the outgoing cars, which range from $44,195 for the C300 coupe to $61,795 for the C43 cabriolet.