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Driven: Mercedes-AMG E43 to provide sales spark

Class warfare: The Mercedes-AMG E43 develops 295kW/520Nm from a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine.

New E43 sports sedan tagged by Mercedes-Benz to boost E-Class sales


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27 Mar 2017

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia Pacific has tipped its new AMG-fettled E43 will outsell its long-running E63 stablemate, despite the C43 failing to outpace the C63 as part of the sporty offshoot’s latest two-pronged performance model strategy.

The $159,900 plus on-road costs E43 lands as the seventh E-Class model grade, priced $20,000 higher than the E400 – with which it shares its engine fundamentals – to become the new range flagship until the E63’s arrival in June.

Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the E43 in Melbourne last week, Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific public relations senior manager David McCarthy admitted that while previous attempts with the V8-engined non-AMG E500 flagship failed, the lure of AMG styling and engineering was strong.

“It’s interesting, when we dropped E500 and did E400, that car did really well,” Mr McCarthy explained.

“There isn’t much appetite among buyers for a non-AMG V8. We still have some in the range, but increasingly people want the AMG.

“E200 is the biggest seller, then you go to E300 (while) we haven’t had any feedback about the lack of an E500. (With E43) I think we’ve now got the range about right now.”

Five years ago the E500 cost $183,685 and used a 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine with 285kW/530Nm to claim a 5.2-second zero to 100km/h time.

While the new $139,900 E400 continues in the range with a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine, the E43 gains larger turbochargers boasting 1.1-bar boost and Nanoslide cylinder linings also used in four-cylinder AMG models.

Now delivering 295kW at 6100rpm and 520Nm from 2500rpm until 5000rpm, the all-wheel drive and nine-speed auto-equipped E43 claims a 4.6s 0-100km/h time.

Mr McCarthy said that the E43’s more subtle styling would attract a different type of buyer to the E63 flagship, and would not affect its sales. However, the E43 was indeed expected to outsell the E63 overall.

“E63’s best year was about 300 (annual) units and that’s usually on launch (but) I don’t think it’s going to impact E63,” he explained.

“In terms of E43, I’m not going to be surprised if it does more than that because of where it’s positioned.

“In some ways the fact that the car looks a lot less aggressive than an E63, but then again because of where it’s positioned pricewise if you’re looking at a C63 you can look at an E43 and say ‘do I want more space?’ or ‘do I want something not as overt?’.”

Mr McCarthy admitted that the E43 could steal sales from both AMG’s top-selling model, the C63, as well as Mercedes-Benz’s cheaper E400.

“I won’t be surprised if there’s a bit of cross-shopping (between E43 and C63) even though the two cars are very different,” he added.

“Because it’s not that bigger step over E400 I (also) won’t be surprised if people go ‘hmm, okay, yes I want some more power, a more dynamic car’ and again it’s going to create a niche. (They would be) stepping up.

“It’s an important car because that sort of money gives people another choice.

We have to offer choice. While having a range that offers all those models introduces complexity you don’t always want, you have to provide choices.”

The introduction of more E-Class models, including the All Terrain wagon and E63 following the E43, has also been tagged as a clear move to maintain decent large car sales, that Mr McCarthy insists has not been affected by SUVs.

“We’re very happy with how E-Class is doing, it’s doing good numbers, good spread throughout the range and E43 is only going to add to that,” he continued.

“Sedans like E43 are about giving people the opportunity and giving them lots of choice to get back into a car (over an SUV).

“We were for a long time not as strong as we needed to be in SUVs, but we are now. It hasn’t really affected sedans, we’ve always had a greater number of sedans in our mix than our competitors.”

According to February VFACTS, sales for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class have soared 173.2 per cent year-to-date to 347 units, or almost half the entire $70K-plus large car class (754 units) and leading the Audi A6 (62) and BMW 5 Series (165) although the latter’s switch only this month to a new-generation model has yet to materialise in an equivalent volume boost.

The E-Class’ sales performance has near-matched that of the comparably priced Mercedes-Benz GLE (355 units over the first two months of 2017), although the addition of the GLE Coupe (117) has increased the large SUV volume for the brand.

Shared with lower E-Class grades are a panoramic sunroof, 13-speaker 590-watt Burmester audio system, head-up display, heated front seats, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, keyless auto-entry, 360-degree camera with automatic park assistance and front/rear sensors, and a Driver Assistance Plus package incorporating autonomous emergency braking (AEB), active cruise control, active lane-keep assistance, evasive steering assistance and blind-spot monitor.

Additionally over the E400 the E43 further features 20-inch AMG alloy wheels, a bodykit with lip spoiler, dark-tinted rear privacy glass, Nappa leather trim with sports seats, sports steering wheel and tyre pressure monitor.

The adaptive air suspension (dubbed Airmatic) has been tuned by AMG, and three modes have been carried over (Comfort, Sport, Sport+) to the 1765kg E43.

AMG-specific steering knuckles and load-bearing joints have been joined by a faster variable-ratio system, working with increased negative camber on both axles, more rigid chassis elastokinematics and a Sport Handling Mode for the stability control system.

A sports exhaust has also been added, but it is not a switchable system like that found in the C43.

Rivals to the Mercedes-AMG E43 include the $170,716 Audi A6 with a 331kW/550Nm 4.0-litre turbo V8 and 4.4s 0-100km/h claim, and the $136,900 BMW 540i with a 250kW/450Nm 3.0-litre turbo six and 5.1s 0-100km/h sprint.

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