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Mercedes-AMG E 43 review: A twist in the tail

The E-Class Estate gets a Mercedes-AMG makeover - and now has a savage bite.

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Mercedes-AMG E 43 4Matic Estate.

Singapore

IT has been said that racing improves the breed, and here's the proof.

The cylinder liners of the Mercedes-AMG E 43's engine have a nano coating straight out of Formula One. The stuff reduces friction and increases resistance to wear.

That might not be the most glamorous example of racing technology making its way into a road car, but raciness isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you first lay eyes on the Mercedes.

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The E-Class is a large car to begin with, and, in Estate form, it has a commodious backside into which you could comfortably insert any number of bulky items. That makes it something you're more likely to spot at a furniture fair attended by grey-bearded men than at a racing circuit.

But the E 43 is a product of Mercedes-AMG, the high performance division of Mercedes, so it's been transformed in the engine, braking, suspension and aerodynamic departments.

The result is something of a Komodo wagon, savage bite and all. It'll leap to 100 kmh in just 4.7 seconds, propelled by a snarling 401 horsepower engine - so it's not much slower than a basic Porsche 911 (which takes 4.4 seconds).

When you look closely, there are subtle hints of the E 43's potency. It has a studded front grille that none of the regular E-Class models wear, for starters.

The wing mirrors are painted black, there's a subtle tail spoiler on the boot lid, it has 20-inch wheels, and there are badges that say "Biturbo 4Matic" on the wings.

That last decorative flourish tells you that the engine is fed by two turbochargers, and that it sends power to all four of the car's wheels.

As a result, the E 43 has a lizard-like grip on tarmac, even on rain-soaked roads. It has a breathtaking willingness to dive into bends, and it clings to its line so ferociously that the average driver will leave a skidmark in his undies before he can get the Mercedes to leave one on the road.

Somewhat incongruously, while the E 43 can romp through a twisty road like a gazelle on amphetamines, its internal state is one of calm. Inside, there's little visual drama apart from racy red seatbelts, and subtler details such as metal pedals studded with rubber.

The soundtrack could do with some excitement, as other AMG models have more sonorous, less muted voices, but in terms of its refinement, the E 43 seems more faithful to the "Mercedes" part of its name.

That might make it sound like a car with confused or conflicting personalities, but the Mercedes-AMG E43 Estate has a pretty clear audience: You should be a driving enthusiast with a subversive sense of humour. An F1 car is still a bit faster, but imagine the looks you'll get when you hustle along in one of these with a Golden Retriever in the boot.


Mercedes-AMG E 43 4Matic Estate

Engine 2,996cc, twin-turbo V6
Power 401hp at 6,100rpm
Torque 520Nm at 2,500-5,000rpm
Gearbox 9-speed automatic
Top Speed 250 kmh (limited)
0-100km/h 4.7 seconds
Fuel efficiency 8.4L/100km
CO2 192g/km
Price S$404,888 with COE
Agent Cycle & Carriage Industries
Available Now