Today’s luxury car market is all about maximizing choice for consumers, and Mercedes-Benz does it better than most any automaker, with everything from coupe-like SUVs to sedan-like coupes. When the all-new, tenth-generation E-Class lineup was introduced for the 2017 year, Mercedes-Benz made sure to give buyers plenty of options here, too, with four body styles (sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible) as well as gap-bridging models like the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 Sedan.
The 2018 E-Class lineup consists of five models with each offering different levels of performance, style and luxury. The 2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 essentially replaces the previous-generation E550 while providing a sporty AMG option for buyers who don’t necessarily want to step up to the faster and pricier E63 S. Unlike the E550, the E43 gets the full battery of AMG tuning, giving it an advantage to similar luxury performance sedans like the BMW 550i and Cadillac CTS VSport.
For a better look at the Mercedes-AMG E-Class lineup, we had the rare opportunity to test the E43 and E63 back to back. Keep reading for the full test drive review of the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E43, and stay tuned for our thoughts on the more hardcore E63 S.
Update: click HERE for the test drive review of the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 S supercar sedan.
2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 Exterior
The 2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 is definitely the sleeper of the new E-Class lineup with an AMG engine hiding under an otherwise ordinary luxury sedan body. Instead of the more aggressive front fascia, vented fenders and rear diffuser from the E63, the E43 has a smoother, more elegant look from the standard E-Class. The current E-Class sedan is about as conservative of a design as you’ll get from Mercedes-Benz these days. The large grille and oversized air intakes give the E-Class a sport sedan face, while the tall, straight roofline and extended rear overhang maximize the available passenger and cargo space.
This E43 had a more sinister look starting with its high-flake Obsidian Black Metallic ($720) paint job, the carbon fiber mirror covers and trunk spoiler (part of the $1,750 AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber Package) and the $650 AMG Night Package that adds high-gloss black elements such as the front splitter, rear fascia accent and exhaust finishers. As a stylish touch, this tester also had the optional ($750) 20-inch AMG V-spoke 20-inch wheel with black accents.
2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 Interior
Mercedes gave the new E-Class an amazing cabin in terms of both design and technology, and the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 backs up its AMG chops with an added dose of sportiness. The highlight of the E-Class cabin is, of course, the pair of 12.3-inch high-definition displays for the gauge cluster and infotainment screen that creates a massive single screen. Controlling these screens are easy either using the touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons or the console-mounted COMAND controller, and the use of this technology is easy and intuitive.
No matter which trim level you choose, the new E-Class has an attractive interior, but this particular tester looked even better with a lengthy list of options. This includes $2,990 AMG Macchiato Beige Nappa leather, $1,600 designo black suede-like headliner, $500 AMG performance flat-bottomed steering wheel wrapped in Nappa leather and suede-like Dinamica material, $1,000 panoramic sunroof and $600 metal wave trim wrapping around the instrument panel and door panels. Along with a long list of safety technology features, the $6,500 Premium 3 Package brings Surround View camera system, head-up display, cabin fragrance system and a power rear sunshade.
As always, the Mercedes E-Class is all about comfort. There is plenty of room to easily fit five adults in the cabin, yet the AMG seats aren’t overly bolstered to allow for maximum comfort; even the sizeable trunk provides 13.1 cubic feet of space ensuring this mid-size luxury sedan is ready for any trip. For added comfort, this tester was equipped with optional heated and cooled front seats ($450) and heated rear outboard seats ($580) as well as the $1,100 Acoustic Comfort package that delivers a whisper-quiet cabin thanks to added cabin insulation and acoustic glass for the windshield and side windows. As a cherry on top, we also got to experience the high-definition sound of the 23-speaker Burmester High-End 3D Sound System – a whopping $4,550 option.
2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 Powertrain
Under the hood, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 uses an AMG-tuned version of the 3.0-liter biturbo V-6 found in the E400. Instead of the standard output (329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque), though, the E43 produces 396 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque giving this sporty sedan a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. This engine is mated to an AMG-enhanced nine-speed automatic that sends power to all four wheels through Mercedes’ rear-biased 4Matic all-wheel drive. This powertrain combination delivers EPA-rated fuel economy estimates of 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway**, which is surprisingly attainable even with occasional heavy acceleration.
For improved handling, the E43 gets an optimized AMG Sport Suspension, a retuned transmission with quicker shifts and four-piston front calipers with cross-drilled rotors. The five-mode Dynamic Control includes Sport and Sport+, and it is the key tool in allowing drivers to decide whether this car feels like a plush comfortable cruiser or an all-out corner carver. One especially sporty feature is that pressing the “M” button on the center console puts the transmission into a full manual mode, which means the transmission holds each gear until the driver shifts – as a true sports car should – even if that means hitting the rev limiter.
2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 Safety
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class received a five-star overall crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The aforementioned Premium 3 Package also includes Active Distance Assist Distronic, active lane change assist, active emergency stop assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic function, active steering assist, evasive steering assist, active lane keeping assist, active blind spot assist, rear-end collision protection and adaptive high beam assist.
2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 Overall
The 2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 stands as proof that world can never have too many performance sedans. If you don’t need the 603 horsepower, 3.3-second 0-60 time or six-figure price of the E63, then the E43 is the perfect sport sedan. The E43 is positioned in the middle of the E-Class lineup providing an even mix of luxury and sportiness, and it delivers enough performance to deserve the full “Mercedes-AMG” branding.
Along with its increase in performance comes an increase in price over a base $52,950* E300 as the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 starts at $71,600*. With almost $26,000 worth of options (trust us, they are worth it), this E43 had an as-tested price of $97,460. While that’s extremely close to the starting price of the E63 S, this tester was an excellent example of how well Mercedes blurs the line between a traditional luxury sedan and an all-out performance sedan.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation-affiliated Mercedes-Benz dealership and test drive the 2018 Mercedes-AMG E43 today!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2018 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.