New for 2018, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe and convertible get the complete AMG performance treatment in the C43 and C63 models. The C43, formerly the AMG C450, has a new transmission and a more classic profile. And it's the AMG C43 Coupe that New Atlas recently took for a test drive.

The C-Class is no longer Mercedes' entry-level model, and that definitely shows. The new design of the C-Class sedans was introduced for the 2015 model year and now the coupe and convertible versions get their new look for 2018.

The steep body curves found in the previous-generation coupe and convertible were sometimes controversial with onlookers. This was due to the smaller two-door models having much more pronounced body "humps" than the longer four-door models had.

Now, there's a slightly more contemporary and far more classic feel for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe and convertible. The body lines are flatter without losing the appeal that is Mercedes' overall design edge with heavy-cut bevels making up the beltline and lower running board crease. The AMG models add performance tweaks, with some aero mods to the front and rear to go with their tighter-appearing stance.

In the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C43, several welcome and nicely-done changes were made to what drives the car, too. The C43 upgrades from the standard model's 2.0-liter four-cylinder to a turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder that outputs 362 horsepower (270 kW) and 384 pound-feet (521 Nm) of torque. New for 2018 is a nine-speed automatic transmission with wonderfully quick shifts and smooth interactions. Rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is an option.

On the road, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C43 handles well with a smart chassis and excellent options for suspension control. Most drivers in the C43 should be able to pull off 0-60 mph (0-92 km/h) sprints in under five seconds, especially with AWD to add extra traction assistance. In curves, the C43 pulls well with good response to driver controls. Everyday driving is equally rewarding when the ride is smoothed and the engine's noise subdued for the comfort-oriented commute.

The EPA rates the 2018 C43 Coupe at 23 mpg combined (10.2 l/100 km), with 20 mpg (11.8 l/100 km) in the city and 28 mpg (8.4 l/100 km) on the highway. In the real world, we were close to that in everyday driving at an average of 21.5 mpg (11 l/100 km) all told.

That fuel economy comes while ensconced in one of the best interiors we've seen in the luxury classes so far.

The design and layout is very well done and a tribute to the excellence that Mercedes is most well known for. A few caveats come with that, however, especially when considering the somewhat limited headroom and almost afterthought-seeming infotainment in the C-Class.

Seating and controls layout are very good and the leather upgrade adds a beautiful wood inlay for the dashboard that's made from one continuous piece. The cramped rear seating, while beautiful to look at, is largely for children or pets. Adults will have a rough time finding legroom or headroom in the back of the coupe.

Taller drivers might find headroom a problem up front too, which gets worse when the (otherwise wonderful) panoramic roof is opted for, cutting down ceiling space by another inch or so up front. Shoulder, leg, and hip room is excellent in the AMG C43 Coupe and seat bolstering is very well done as well.

The infotainment in the C-Class is a bit perplexing though. The large screen is excellent, offering crisp quality and a smart menu system, but does seem tacked onto the dashboard as an afterthought rather than something that's integral to the car. The COMAND controller doesn't improve the situation, with a weird touchpad interface upgrade that makes navigating a chore.

One quickly gets used to the voice controls to compensate, but the set up is not as easy as the "point and shoot" found on some rivals.

All of this takes a side note when punching the accelerator and sailing out onto a well-made country highway. The smooth feel and fast pace of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C43 Coupe are hard to find fault with. This is what luxury sports driving is supposed to be like and with its lush interior and excellent drivetrain, the C43 sets a bar for others to meet.

Pricing for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 Coupe begins at US$55,900, with our test model ringing in at $72,855 after delivery.

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