GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

Mercedes Benz AMG C43

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benz_c43.jpg


STATS

Year: 1999
Class: Compact Luxury Car
Type: 4-door sedan
 
Country of Origin: Germany ````````````````` Host: GT2
 
Price: $104,000

 
Length: 177.8" Width: 67.8" Height: 56.2"
Wheelbase: 105.9"
Overhang: @ 6 feet
Track: 59.4" [F] 58.4" [R]
Ground Clearance: 5.7"
Weight: 3,461 lbs.
Skidpad (real-life): 0.84g
Layout: Front Engine / Rear Drive
Tires: 225/45 ZR-17 [F] 245/40 ZR-17 [R]
F. Suspension: double wishbone, coils, anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: multilink, coils, anti-roll bar
Brakes: vented disc + ABS; vacuum asst.
 
Engine: 4.3 liter SOHC V8
Aspiration: natural
 
 
Tested HP: 307 @ 5,500 rpms
Tstd Torque: 303 @ 3,500 rpms

 
Lbs. per HP: 11.3
HP per Liter: 71.9
Credits per HP: $338.76
 
Fuel Syst: EFi
Valves per Cyl: 3
Bore x Stroke: 3.54 x 3.31"
Compression Ratio: 10:1
Redline: 6,500 // Rev Limit: 7,000

Transmission: 5-speed automatic
 
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds
0-100 mph: 13.4 seconds
0-150 mph
 
400 M:  14.050 @ 102 mph
1Kilom:
25.422 @ 133 mph
 
Test Track: 1:39.094
 
Top Speed at Redline
1st: 41 mph @ 6,750 rpm
2nd: 69 mph
3rd: 108 mph
4th: 153 mph
5th: 171.75 mph @ 6,100 rpm
 
 

 


-------------------------EXTERIOR------------------------

Caviar for breakfast, anyone? And then shall we partake of tennis lessons from Monica, my Austrian former-pro teacher, or shall we go for a dip in my Mediterranean-tiled jacuzzi?
 
Ah yes, the driver of a Mercedes is living the good life. And here's not just any Mercedes; it's a ‘special’ one tuned by AMG. This is a car that anyone would feel comfortable in, but only the likes of Tony Soprano or a skillful Gran Turismo driver could afford with cash.
 
It's actually kinda funny to see Benz sedans available for racing. Do people race them in real life? No. Wouldn't  ridiculously high insurance premiums be a deterrant to somebody who even wished they could race a Benz? Yes. Why is it in the game, then? I don't know!!
 
So to set the record straight: I am a bit naïve. Mercedes C-class cars do race in a series called the ITC (International Touring Car) and apparently do pretty well. Not to mention the DTM. At 14 feet & 9 inches long, the C-class is the smallest of Mercedes sedans from the late '90s. The AMG-tuned C43 was discontinued in the year 2000, leaving only the C230 Kompressor and C280 for sale. I have no idea what AMG stands for (something in German, no doubt) so here's a few things I do know after cruising the net a bit.
 
In addition to the usual, typical options (sunroof, Blaupünkt stereo system with multi-disk CD changer and cell phone receptacle, heated & fully-functional seats, etc.) Mercedes has loaded this mid-size sedan with a few features given exclusively to the rich. The dashboard, door panels, and center console are decorated in ‘burl walnut’ trim which is crafted with up to 6 layers of polished wood that not only looks delicious, but actually aids in protecting the passengers in case of an accident by preventing the metal around them from crumpling.
 
There are side-impact air bags, and if that's not enough, there is the “BabySmart” system, which deactivates the passenger-side air bag if you've got your baby up there. In general, the car can somehow figure out how much a person sitting in its seat weighs, and how tall he or she is, so that if those bags pop out in an accident, they won't be decapitated. How thoughtful. Is there more? The cabin features automatic climate controls that keep the car warm for up to 30 minutes after it's been parked at the post office or spa. Ugh, that just sounds too posh and evil. If I owned a Benz, I'd turn that shit off. I'm not THAT much of a wimp.
 
Okay, what else?
 
An electronic dust filter (not just a paper cabin-air filter like you'd find in lesser cars) removes airborne pollen and filth larger than 5 microns, for those germophobic types. The car features an integrated door opener that can operate up to three doors and/or gates, ensuring that one never has to leave the car no matter if they're at home, work, or heading towards into some of the more secretive levels of the batcave. Also available (I'm not making this up) is the Homelink® feature which allows one to operate a lamp in his or her mansion even when they're not there. Now that would be alot of fun on Halloween; scare the shit out of grandma, huh?  A security device on the car's key fob is an infrared computer chip that disables the engine when removed from the ignition--ensuring that only the best high-tech criminals will be able to figure out how to steal a Benz. Not only that, but it automatically generates a code which changes every time it gets used.
 
What else did those Germans think of to pamper the snobs? The car has power-windows. So? Well these windows have an ‘anti-pinch’ feature that...you guessed it, keeps your fingers from getting snapped if you've got them poking out the window.
 
 
....The list goes on. And on. I'm harvesting an odd mixture of boredom and envy just typing all this while my real-life truck is rolling past 184,000 miles, becoming a host to more and more unidentified ‘sounds’ as I drive it. Well, this is what you get when you pay $104,000, I suppose (talking about the Benz, not my '88 Isuzu Trooper). Personally if I had this much dough I'd.... I...I don't know WHAT I'd do! Certainly I wouldn't be typing any more Car Reviews. :(
 
 
For some really imaginitive types, it may be tempting to keep all these creature comforts and race in total luxury; but for the other 99% of GT racers, it's time to get to the auto-body weight reduction specialist, or ABWRS for short, and break out the Platinum AmEx card. Goodbye stereo system! Goodbye NASA-inspired climate controls! Goodbye to the fancy wood trim, comfy chairs, soundproofing, security computer systems (all 38 of them), Swedish blow-up doll between the seats (okay, I made that part up). It's time to remove some weight, basically.
 
The C43 weighs 3,461 pounds, but we can get it down to 3,079, which ain't bad. We can actually race it fully-laden in a bunch of GT2 events because it's got such an awesome engine, and handles pretty good too. To be fair, it's safe to assume that various Mercedes sedans (as well as Jaguars and Aston-Martins) we see in our game haven't had any weight taken off; which is why they're always sliding around and stuff. But truthfully, the Benz handles better than a Jag or an Aston.
 
To test my theory, I raced a C43 in the infamous Apricot Hill Enduro with no weight reductions, Stage 2 tuning and racing parts (479 hp) and sport tires. Sure enough, the Benz was a challenge to drive. I got careless and spun a few times, but certainly not every lap. I must say that whoever's driving the computer-cars around is really bad! The Ai Benzes tend to spin out at the dreaded Apricot end-of-straight turn. Every frickin' lap! This never gets old. It never stops being funny. Did these AI dudes ever hear of Skip Barber or (more likely) did they just enter their heavy, expensive cars after they got their license from some dude in a WalMart parking lot? Better question: did my C43 win the enduro against the GT40? Oh yeah, you betcha!
 
Unfortunately, one can only buy a C43 in two colors: black or silver. But at least we get to race in style, huh?

  

amgc43.jpeg

--------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN----------------

But racing an AMG is not all about style. Mercedes Benz has been in business for over 115 years, any automotive history buff gladly will tell you that Mercedes (actually Benz, as in Karl Benz, before he partnered up with Mercedes) had the very first production car ever built for sale. Some will dispute this (usually the same type of fellow who will argue that the moon landing was faked), but generally it's accepted that Benz got there first. One thing they know how to do is design an engine. Rather than having robots or several techs do it, each AMG engine is additionally tweaked and hand-built by one person at a time!
 
Many German highways have no speed limits, so it's not surprising that the AMG C43 kicks the schieße out of some of its competitors. Even though the car is heavy and luxurious, it is still very fast: 0 to 60 in just over 5 seconds with a 14 second quarter ain't bad, + we can reach a nice plateau of speed down any straightaway. Will you win some races? Ja! Is this car geared well and does it come with plentiful upgrades? Ja!
 
It packs a potent 4.3 liter V8 with 3 valves per cylinder. Even though it is only a single-cam model, it seems to have little problem with power. Weight? Oversteer? Fishtailing? Oh yeah, but the power is plentiful and sounds sweet. And of course this is the new millenia--which means that the car's engine bay is full of equipment that keeps the air/gasoline steadily flowing for the best, most efficient use of speed.
 
The stock gearbox is actually pretty useful, though it's better to use either the sports or semi-racing (close & super-close) trannys. Oddly, there is little difference between these two; either one of them can be used for most racing situations, and both of them are dialed in extremely close to one another. There is barely any difference between the two of them. A reflection of reality, or an oversight of Gran Turismo's staff of programers?
Real-life C-class cars have a driver-adaptive 5-speed automatic tranny (hence, I ‘pretended’ my C43 was not offered with a standard shift) that's smarter than most of the humans who drive it. It can tell when the car is going downhill; if the driver hasn't changed the throttle position, it will not upshift. Likewise, it will hold the car in gear when going uphill unless the driver mashes the pedal, obviously wanting to go faster. Ride. It's all about that smooth yet firm MB ride, I guess. The tranny also uses info from the cruise control and the engine's temperature to determine the best shifting scenarios.
 
All this means nothing to us--the Gran Turismo Benz shifts when it wants to, basically; but it's safe to say that while you're racing, the engine, transmission, and suspension are all ‘talking’ to one another.
 

 

---------------CHASSIS / HANDLING--------------------------

Like the BMW 528i, the AMG/Mercedes C43 is built like a German car, which means a lot of weight supported by a great suspension and tires. The trunk is large, yet a somewhat complicated multi-link rear keeps the Benz in check, while saving space, so there's even more storage area. There's a reason Mr. Soprano prefers Benzes, know what I mean? Lots of storage space. Hopefully we'll never have to find out. ;-/
 
The rear suspension also uses yet another computer that features anti-squat and anti-lift characteristics, which supposedly keeps the rear from bouncing around too much. But during racing situations...well, let's just say it's best to get at least a semi-racing suspension. The car is extremely stable, however, even with its stock under-parts. Rarely will you see it losing contact with the road.
 
Real-life auto reviewers raved about the road-holding qualities of the C-class Mercedes when it was introduced in the late-'90s. They compare this sedan to a sports car, especially once it's loaded with the optional $900 sports suspension package, which comes with leather seats that are crafted to keep the car's occupants from sliding off during hard cornering. Seems Mercedes/AMG has thought of everything!
 
You won't need limited-slip differentials until you've got at least Stage 2 power (479 @ 6,500 rpms). Real-life C-class cars have ESP. No, they're not precognizant--this stands for Electronic Stability Program. ESP combines data from wheel-speed yaw sensors and protects against wheelspin and sliding, and before the Benz is heavily modified, it's obvious the car seems to handle well despite its weight. Rarely will there excessive tire-smoke, and this is GT2, not GT4 where Benzes also rarely lose traction. Once fully-powered (530 hp), it's time to think about maybe getting some help, though. Just...maybe.
 
Even the brakes can't be fooled. Real-life cars have something called ‘Brake-Assist ®’ which goes one step further than ABS; it senses when the driver is trying to slow the car down in a panic situation. It then adds a little extra power to the vented, vacuum-assisted discs, slowing the car down quickly without sliding. Brake-controller settings are important in this regard; we can keep the front brakes fairly high (16 to 20) and the rear ones in the 7 to 12 range. As far as tires go: most folks will happily slap on some racing slicks--though as I mentioned before, I've been able to win plenty of races with sport tires. Slicks are really only needed if you're entering the Benz in the Gran Turismo True Sports Car series or something.
 
With a semi-racing suspension, the Mercedes can be lowered to 4.37". This + the elevated spring rates of 6.3 kg/mm will take care of a lot of the bounciness an unmodified car suffers, but there's still plenty of weight to counter in corners. Still, it's a marvel to race an AMG C43. Not only can you kill the AI dümbköphs, you'll have the envy of your neighbors as you race your AMG in your very own living room, no matter how stuck-up they are.
 

 

PROS

1). Lots of power. Oh yeah. A total of 223 extra hp is offered thru upgrades, too.
 
2). At any level, the SOHC small-block V8 the C43 packs performs better than those of some American muscle-cars. It sounds just as tasty, too.
 
3). An endless variety of computer systems are quietly at work helping the AMG stay on the road without wheelspin and skidding, and also keep the engine revving with efficiency. This seems true in the game, too, since the AMG does handle itself better than Astons, Jags, and  some heavier 4-door Japanese cars.
 
4). Typical of German cars, the AMG handles the road the way I'd love to handle a tall glass of Beck's right about now...a great Autobahn-worthy suspension is here.
 
5). Gearbox is dialed-in correctly for racing.
 
6). Brakes are balanced for racing somehow, even when stock. This isn't so true of the AMG E55 (also found in GT2), which loses it more often than the C43.
 

CONS

1). Heavy. Weight reductions don't seem to help kill the car's back-heavy nature enough--unless the driver is skilled and adept at keeping the C43 from spinning in fast corners.
 
2). Oooh, the price! We're paying 104 large and we're not able to even enjoy its comfort. Tsk tsk.
 
3). Only two colors available. Silver or black. Is this for real? Thank heaven the wheel shop can be accessed for Benzes. (BMWs don't get the same privilege in GT2).
 
4). Barely any difference between the sports and semi-racing transmissions, though either one can be used for most racing.
 
5). With 307 standard horsepower, there are plenty of hp-limited races this car will not be able to enter. No biggie for most GT2 racers, but it can become an annoyance occasionally.
 
6). Understeer is barely an issue, unless the driver really sucks at braking. Torquey oversteer will be more of a concern as power gets added.

Published: November 2nd, 2004

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