Want is one thing, but these sport coupes (and one convertible) prove that you don’t need a crore-plus, full-fat, 600bhp V8 to have a shit-ton of fun
AS GOOD AS A CAYMAN? THAT’S WHAT you all asked, in response to the rabid praise we heaped on the M2 Competition last month. It was a question we had no answer to, not because we have no experience of the Porsche, but because fast cars are moving the game on so rapidly it’s impossible to pass judgment on all-important yet highly subjective matters like steering feel, throttle adjustability and the seat of the pants feedback without driving them back to back. And so that’s what this test is all about, an attempt to find out just how good sports coupes have become, and a celebration of the fact that you can now get a properly fast car for under a crore of rupees.
Of course, there is no Cayman here. We couldn’t get hold of it so we got its 718 siblings, the identical (save for the foldable canvas roof) Boxster. At the other end of the spectrum, and at the same price, is the Mustang with a full-fat V8. It defies the very point of this test, to prove you don’t have to go the V8 route to have fun, but if you can get a ’Stang at the same price as a Boxster we had to drive them back to back.
The other three cars are relatively straight-forward. Audi’s S5 is the only four-door with a big(ish) engine. The M2 is a proper sports coupe with a banging turbo-six. And the newest of them all, and rocking the coupe back end, is the C 43 AMG, the turbo-V6 now kicking out more power, more torque, more noise, and more entertainment. It’s a good time to be a fan of fast cars!
SHOW & GO
MERCEDES-AMG C 43 COUPE
DO YOU NEED YOUR FAST CAR TO BE PRACTICAL? Mercedes doesn’t think so and they’ve dropped the four-door C 43 AMG from their fast-car line-up. Okay, if I’m being practical, this AMG isn’t very practical. I took another couple out for a Sunday lunch and they made a big production of spilling out of the back seat of the blazing red AMG. We Indians have zero experience of entering or exiting two-door cars gracefully; plenty of experience grumbling about things we have no experience of. But can I live with the compromise? Hell, yes!
The recent facelift has done the C-Class range a world of good and, suitably AMG’d with muscular bumpers, LED lights and the twin-louver grille, the C 43 Coupe looks gorgeous. It really is more than just the old C 43 AMG with its rear doors deleted. Space at the back, once your passengers are done grumbling, is quite acceptable too, with the panoramic sunroof adding lots of light to the cabin. The ride too is quite alright, so is the ground clearance with four on board, though with the space-saver spare wheel strapped into boot; you’re best off packing only a toothbrush. But, who cares?
Stick it in Sport+, depress the Sport Exhaust button, and the C 43 feels far more purposeful than I recall. The twin-turbo V6 gets a 24bhp bump in power to 385bhp, torque is now up to 520Nm, and though the 0-100kmph time remains unchanged at 4.7 seconds, tenths have been shaved off the in-gear acceleration times thanks also to the faster shift times of the 9-speed gearbox. To be honest, the C 43 AMG was always plenty quick, keeping pace with the V8-engined and totally unhinged C 63 until well past triple-digit speeds. This new one, thanks to a throaty exhaust, feels even faster and the first time I floored it I did let out an expletive. This car accelerates with ferocity.
But it isn’t scary, that’s the beauty of the all-wheel-drive setup. The 4Matic is, of course, more rear-biased for that sport-car feel but the sense of safety and security that it delivers is unparalleled. Floor it and it grips and goes, regardless of the road surface. A damp patch? No worries. Some gravel? No need to let off. A smooth bit of windy tarmac? There is so much cornering grip that the g-force meter on the cluster will show some crazy figures even if you do not have the talent to match your ambition. If you didn’t know it was the all-wheel drive you’d scratch your head wondering how easily the C 43 puts down its near-400 horses. There is no untoward drama, except in the cabin that is really lovely with the full-fat AMG steering wheel being an absolute highlight.
BMW M2 COMPETITION
IF YOU’RE A FLY ON THE WALL AT THE EVO INDIA offices you’d think the M2 Competition is the next best thing to sliced bread. We are truly and madly in love it, so much so that when BMW sells this press car we will be the first to bid for it. And it all has to do with the way the back end responds in direct proportion to the travel of the throttle pedal. You steer the M2 Competition as much with the throttle as with the steering wheel — it is that playful, that responsive, that involved, that much of a hoot.
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