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THE RIGHT STUFF: AMG, Mercedes-Benz’s performance division, cooks up a dazzling luxury hot rod in the C43 Coupe

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lucky is the car buyer who seeks – and can afford – a high-end sports coupe.

These days, there’s a wide range of potential candidates in the semi-rarefied $50-75K category, including such worthies as Audi’s S5 Coupe and Infiniti’s Q60 S Sport 3.0t, among others.

How to decide? Possibly luxurious accommodations are first and foremost on the buyer’s wish list. Or maybe enthralling performance is the ultimate goal. Of course eye-catching good looks must be part of the package.

Or just maybe there’s one coupe that pretty much has every prerequisite covered. Consider the 2018 AMG C43 Coupe, built by the Mercedes-Benz performance division.

There’s no denying the C43 nails the good-looks requirement. Its imposing “face” with its three-pointed star insignia gleaming in the grille’s center immediately shouts Mercedes-Benz. The smoothly sculpted flanks taper into into simple-but-sleek taillights. A subtle trunk spoiler provides a stylistic exclamation mark.

As for luxurious fitments, the four-seat cabin echoes current Benz interior ethos. Lovely leather – a stunning Cranberry Red in our Iridium Silver test car – contrasts with (optional) carbon fiber trim on dash and doors. Soft-touch surfaces with perfectly applied contrasting stitching abound, creating a comforting cocoon for passengers and driver.

Along with highly legible gauges, an iPad-like screen controls infotainment, communication, nav, and climate selections. It takes a bit of study to learn how it all works, but once understood, it becomes second nature.

Then there’s performance. The C43’s twin-turbo V-6 doles out potent acceleration at any speed. The car’s nine-speed automatic transmission snaps off lighting-quick up- or downshifts as it delivers power to all four wheels.

The car corners as if on those proverbial rails, although if there’s a bit of an irritant in its on-road manners, it’s in the ride quality. Put gently, it tends to be a tad too firm in each of its three suspension settings (Comfort, Sport and Sport+).

Still, overall the AMG C43 Coupe is a masterful creation. As with most German vehicles, options rapidly ramp up the bottom line. But if you can manage the entry fee, you likely won’t regret it.

2018 Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe

VEHICLE TYPE: Two-door, four-passenger luxury performance coupe

POWERTRAIN: 3.0-liter, twin-turbcharged V-6; 362 horsepower; 384 lb.-ft. pound-feet torque; nine-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive

BASE PRICE: $55,900

PRICE AS TESTED: $72,855 (incl. delivery fees)

WHEELBASE/LENGTH: 111.8/184.9″

CURB WEIGHT: 3,968 pounds

EPA FUEL RATING: 20 mpg city/27 highway (premium grade)

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