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Mercedes-AMG and Springbok rugby stars Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi team up to deliver the ultimate in performance

  • Mapimpi and Am are the newest members of Mercedes-Benz South Africa’s Friends of the Brand programme.
  • The proudly-assembled-in-East London Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC is the vehicle of choice for the Eastern Cape-born rugby players. Interestingly, both grew up in the area where most of the MBSA Plant workers are from.
  • Their new C 43 driving machines were handed over the players during a track event at the AMG Driving Academy at Zwartkops Raceway on 5 March 2023, joined by other Friends of the Brand as well as the media.
  • They took the opportunity to take these exhilarating performance machines around the racetrack and put the Formula 1-derived technology and surefooted 4MATIC dynamics of the C 43 to the test.

With technology derived directly from Formula 1, the latest generation of the Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC is the perfect match for the fleet-footed Springbok rugby players Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi. The newest additions to Mercedes-Benz South Africa’s Friends of the Brand influencer program – which counts the likes of fellow Springbok and national captain, Siya Kolisi, as one of its members – the players will each drive a new Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC for the next year. Am will work closely with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, while Mapimpi will be an ambassador for the Mercedes-Benz Cars division.

The Eastern Cape natives, who originate from the same province in which Mercedes-Benz South Africa’s world-class Plant builds the W206 C-Class – including the C 43 and upcoming C 63 performance derivatives – for local sale and global exports, will use their new C 43 vehicles to transport them between home, their Sharks provincial turf and the Springboks training camp in preparation for the Rugby World Cup later this year.

“Our state-of-the-art production facility in East London produces the best of the best in every segment. With the C 43 4MATIC, we are proud to introduce the most sought-after performance cars in this segment. They stand for breath-taking performance, innovative racetrack technology and the highest degree of luxury,” says Mark Raine, Co-CEO of Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Executive Director of Passenger Cars. “Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi, with their innovative gameplay and relentless determination to succeed at the highest level of one of the world’s toughest sports, are the perfect match for these performance machines.”

Robert Hoffmann, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services South Africa, adds: “We are extremely proud to partner with Lukhanyo Am, who like us is synonymous with high performance and agility. Just as rugby is entrenched in the fibre and history of this beautiful country, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services enjoys a rich and successful 26 years in South Africa; 26 years of getting customers into their dream Mercedes-Benz cars. We look forward to have the Springbok centre as a part of our family – a warm welcome to our new ambassador!”

Q&A with our new Friends of the Brand

We met up with the players before the event on 5 March to ask them a couple of questions about where they were born and grew up, how they entered the rugby arena, and what this new relationship with Mercedes-Benz means to them.

MBSA: Where were you born?

Lukhanyo Am (LA): “King William’s Town.” Makazole Mapimpi (MM): “East London.”

Where do you live now?

Both: “Durban.”

Where did your love for rugby start, and what has been your journey to get to this incredible level of professional sport?

LA: “It started in my surroundings. Where I grew up, rugby was the ultimate sport to play and that really influenced me. It’s been an amazing journey with its own set of challenges that got me to where I am. It gave me a different perspective and genuinely made me a better person.”

MM: “KwaMoni, playing with other kids at 11 years old. My teachers saw my talent and always urged me to play further. I played for Border Bulldogs, Southern Kings, Free State Cheetahs and then The Sharks.”

Mercedes-Benz is a global company, but also very much local thanks to our world-class plant in East London. What does this new relationship with Mercedes-Benz mean to you, as a son of the Eastern Cape and a South African?

LA: “It means the world to me to be able to accomplish this. It gives me a sense of purpose as I’m always striving to be the best and level up. It’s a special feeling. I actually can’t put it into words. This relationship is a big deal to me because Mercedes-Benz has been a well-known brand since I was growing up. It’s always been a big deal where I’m from and it’s special, as everyone aspired to drive and own a Mercedes- Benz.”

MM: “I have always wanted to work with Mercedes-Benz since I played for the Border Bulldogs. For me, it was my motivation to even stay on the team as there was talk at some stage of Mercedes-Benz being a sponsor. I never thought I would work with a brand as big as Mercedes.”

What is the Friends of the Brand program?

The long-running Friends of the Brand program connects Mercedes-Benz South Africa with brand ambassadors who are inspiring pioneers, explorers and high achievers, much like the brand itself. Often, they’ve overcome barriers and in the process have set new standards in their field. The Friends of the Brand use their abilities to achieve enduring success in diverse projects.

Alongside Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi, some of the Mercedes-Benz South Africa Friends of the Brand include the inspirational pairing of Siya and Rachel Kolisi; renowned chefs David Higgs and Jan- Hendrik van der Westhuizen; businesswoman and musician Nandi Madida; and global music phenomenon Nasty C.

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services: connecting cars and people

Mercedes-Benz Financial Services offers a holistic approach to enjoy new and pre-owned Mercedes-Benz vehicles by always putting the customer first. MBFS offers attractive and innovative financing options such as Agility and MB Rent, to leasing products and a suite of insurance products. MBFS provides a seamless customer journey with integrated digital solutions and the personal touch in human interaction, delivering an extraordinary customer experience – online and in our dealerships. For more info, visit www.mercedes-

The all-new Mercedes-AMG C 43: ground-breaking technology derived directly from Formula 1

At the heart of the new Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC is the AMG 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, which combines innovative technologies and high performance with exemplary efficiency. At the same time, it remains true to a tradition typical of the brand: not only was it developed entirely at the company’s site in Affalterbach, but it is also manufactured there in accordance with the principle of “One Man, One Engine”.

In this process, Mercedes-AMG combines the craftsmanship of its highly qualified employees with the latest production methods of Industry 4.0 and a high degree of digitalisation. The internally named M139l engine (l for longitudinal installation) is the world’s first series-production engine to be turbocharged with an electric exhaust gas turbocharger. The innovative system is a direct derivative of the technology that the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team has been using so successfully in the premier class of motorsport for many years. The new form of turbocharging guarantees particularly spontaneous response across the entire rev range. This leads to an even more dynamic driving experience, while at the same time increasing efficiency.

The all-new Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC is now available in South Africa with a price of R1,608,810 (excl. CO2), which includes a PremiumDrive 5-year/100,000 km maintenance plan.

The functional principle of the electric exhaust gas turbocharger in detail

An electric motor around four centimetres thin is integrated directly on the turbocharger shaft between the turbine wheel on the exhaust side and the compressor wheel on the intake side. Electronically controlled, this drives the shaft of the turbocharger directly and thus accelerates the compressor wheel, before the exhaust gas flow takes over the drive in the conventional way.

This significantly improves the response directly from idle speed and across the entire rev range. The combustion engine responds even more spontaneously to accelerator pedal input, while the entire driving feel is significantly more dynamic. In addition, the electrification of the turbocharger enables higher torque at low revs. This also increases agility and optimises acceleration from a standstill. Even when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator or brakes, the technology is able to maintain boost pressure at all times, so ensuring a continuously direct response.

Powered by the 48-volt on-board electrical system, the electric exhaust gas turbocharger operates at speeds of up to 175000 rpm, which enables a very high air flow rate. The turbocharger, electric motor and power electronics are connected to the combustion engine’s cooling circuit to create an optimal temperature environment at all times.

The closed-deck design of the M139 – adopted from the world of motorsport – ensures maximum rigidity in conjunction with low weight and allows peak combustion pressures of up to 160 bar. The areas around the cylinders are mostly solid, and the cover plate is penetrated only by smaller ducts for the coolant and engine oil. Other design highlights of the engine include NANOSLIDE technology, with which the linings are coated so as to reduce the friction between piston and cylinder. This gives the linings a mirror-like surface for minimal friction, is twice as hard as conventional grey cast-iron liners and therefore makes them much more durable. The coating made its debut in the AMG V8 engine M156, has been used to refine other AMG engines for many years and can also be found in the Formula 1 engine of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team.

Another outstanding feature is the two-stage petrol injection. In the first stage, particularly fast and precise piezo injectors deliver the fuel into the combustion chambers at pressures of up to 200 bar. The second stage adds intake manifold duct injection with solenoid valves, which is needed to achieve the engine’s high specific power output.

The high output also necessitates a sophisticated cooling system that can cool the cylinder head and crankcase to different temperature levels. This measure makes it possible to maintain a cold cylinder head for maximum power with efficient ignition timing, along with a warm crankcase to reduce internal engine friction. The cylinder head is cooled by a mechanical high-performance water pump; the crankcase is cooled by a second, electrically driven water pump. After a cold start, this pump remains passive until the engine has warmed up. In operation it is regulated by the engine control unit so that the crankcase is always cooled according to need.

300 kW and 500 Nm enable sporty driving performance

In the 2.0-litre four-cylinder in-line engine, innovative technology helps the Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC to achieve a rated output of 300 kW at 6750 rpm. The maximum torque of 500 Nm is available at 5000 rpm.

Depending on the situation, the system also briefly provides an additional boost of 10 kW through the belt- driven starter generator (RSG). The second-generation RSG acts as a mild hybrid, providing this temporary power boost as well as functions such as gliding and recuperation for maximum efficiency. At the same time, the 48-volt technology also increases comfort, as the transitions between the start-stop function and the gliding mode function are almost imperceptible.

The C 43 4MATIC Saloon accelerates from a standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds. The top speed is electronically limited at 250 km/h. By adding the optional AMG Driver’s Package, it can be raised to 265 km/h. The great efficiency potential of the innovative turbo technology is revealed by the combined consumption figures according to WLTP of 9.1-8.7 l/100 km.

AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 9G transmission with wet start-off clutch and AMG Performance 4MATIC

Power is transmitted via the AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT 9G transmission (MCT = Multi-Clutch Transmission), in which a wet start-off clutch replaces the torque converter. It reduces weight and, thanks to its lower inertia, optimises response to accelerator pedal input, especially during spurts and load changes. The elaborately calibrated software ensures extremely short shift times as well as fast multiple downshifts if required. In addition, the intermediate throttle function in the “Sport” and “Sport+” driving modes delivers a particularly emotionally appealing gearshift experience. There is also the RACE START function, which ensures optimal acceleration from a standstill. The ECO start/stop function is automatically activated in the “Comfort” drive program; the “Glide” function can be activated in “Individual”.

The AMG Performance 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive features an AMG-specific torque distribution between the front and rear axles of 31 to 69 percent. The rear-biased configuration provides for enhanced dynamic handling, including higher lateral acceleration and improved traction when accelerating.

AMG DYNAMICS standard component of the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive program selection

The five AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs “Slippery”, “Comfort”, “Sport”, “Sport +” and “Individual” permit a wide range of vehicle characteristics, from comfortable to dynamic. The distinct driving modes offer an individual driving experience, precisely tailored to different driving conditions. In the “Sport” and “Sport+” programs, the engine’s responsiveness, the transmission’s shifting behaviour and the suspension and steering are tuned to be particularly agile.

The C 43 4MATIC also features the integrated “AMG DYNAMICS” driving dynamic control system as a component of the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs. This enhances the stabilising functions of the Electronic Stability Program ESP with interventions to add agility to the steering characteristics and additional ESP functions. When cornering at speed, for example, brief braking intervention at the inner rear wheel generates a defined yawing moment around the vertical axis for responsive and precise turn-in.

The extent and effectiveness of these interventions depend on the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT program selected, whereby drivers using “Individual” mode can determine the settings for the AMG DYNAMICS levels “Basic”, “Advanced” and “Pro” for themselves. The ESP can be adjusted in three stages. “On” is the standard selection that offers high safety, adapted to the sporty character of the overall vehicle. “Sport”, on the other hand, allows higher drift angles, while “Off” allows the system to be switched off completely for a particularly sporty driving style on closed-off racetracks.

AMG RIDE CONTROL suspension with Adaptive Damping System

The AMG RIDE CONTROL steel-spring suspension with Adaptive Damping System, which is standard on the C 43 4MATIC, combines decidedly sporty driving dynamics with the long-distance comfort typical of the brand. The basis for this is provided by the front axle, with specially developed steering knuckles and suspension joints on the spring control arm, and by the rear axle, which also features elastokinematics designed for driving dynamics. Complementing this, the Adaptive Damping System continuously adapts the damping at each individual wheel to the current demand – always taking into account the preselected suspension level, the driving style and the condition of the road surface. In addition to an improvement in ride quality and comfort, this leads, above all, to an increase in driving safety. There is a choice of three different damping maps (“Comfort”, “Sport” and “Sport+”).

Three-stage AMG parameter steering and standard rear-axle steering

The steering layout of the C 43 4MATIC contributes to the improvement in both dynamics and comfort. The three-stage AMG parameter steering system, for example, features a variable steering geometry ratio that adapts to the selected drive program. At high speeds, the steering power assistance decreases; at low speeds it is steadily increased. As a result, comparatively little steering effort is required at low speeds, as well as when manoeuvring and parking, while the best possible control over the vehicle is maintained when driving faster. In the “Sport” and “Sport+” suspension settings, the driver also experiences significantly more feedback about the driving condition via the steering wheel.

The new Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC brings rear-axle steering to the best-selling model series from Affalterbach as standard. It operates with a maximum steering angle of 2.5 degrees. Up to this point, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels at speeds of up to 100 km/h (variable depending on the AMG DYNAMICS setting). This leads to a virtual shortening of the wheelbase, which in turn results in significantly more agile turn-in, less steering effort and improved manoeuvrability. For example, the turning circle is noticeably reduced when turning or parking. At speeds above 100 km/h (variable depending on the AMG DYNAMICS setting), on the other hand, the rear wheels turn in parallel to the front wheels – up to a maximum of 0.7 degrees. This virtual extension of the wheelbase has a positive effect on driving stability, leads to a faster build-up of lateral force when changing direction and thus to a more direct reaction of the vehicle to steering commands. The response of the rear-axle steering depends on the selected AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive program.

AMG sports braking system and AMG exhaust system with sporty engine sound

The AMG sports braking system with silver-painted brake callipers and black “AMG” lettering guarantees outstanding deceleration values and optimum control. On the C 43 4MATIC, internally ventilated and

perforated brake discs measuring 370 x 36 millimetres with 4-piston fixed callipers are fitted at the front axle, and discs measuring 320 x 24 millimetres with 1-piston floating callipers at the rear.

The AMG exhaust system with its sporty engine sound provides the appropriate acoustic background. Depending on the drive program selected, the noise level ranges from balanced and discreet to emotionally sporty. The sound characteristics are controlled via an exhaust gas flap, depending on engine speed and load. For the occupants, the listening pleasure can be further enhanced by the addition of the option AMG Real Performance Sound. The actual engine sound is picked up by a sensor in the exhaust system and fed into the interior for a particularly emotive sound experience.

Characteristic AMG elements for the exterior and interior ensure a sporty, refined appearance

Outside as well as inside, numerous AMG-specific details underscore both the dynamic and the luxurious character of the C 43 4MATIC. In terms of exterior design, these include the AMG-specific radiator grille with vertical struts in chrome, the AMG front apron with flics, sporty air intakes and chrome-plated trim element, the matching side sill panels, the diffuser-look rear apron and the two round twin-tailpipe trim elements. The C 43 4MATIC is fitted with AMG light-alloy wheels and 18-inch tyres as standard, with 19- and 20-inch tyres available as options.

In the interior, such features as AMG seats with a distinctive upholstery layout and seat covers in ARTICO man-made leather/MICROCUT microfibre in black with red contrasting stitching and red seat belts provide a particularly sporty touch. Further options include leather and nappa leather seat covers. Added to this is the AMG Performance steering wheel in nappa leather, with flattened bottom section, perforated in the grip area and with silver-coloured aluminium gearshift paddles. The two round AMG steering wheel buttons allow fast and unerring operation of various dynamic driving functions and of the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs. The instrument panel and the beltlines are upholstered in ARTICO man-made leather with red topstitching. The sporty-luxurious atmosphere is rounded off by AMG sports pedals, AMG floor mats and illuminated door sill trims with AMG lettering.

The MBUX infotainment system includes various AMG-specific displays and functions. These include special displays in the instrument cluster, in the portrait-format multimedia central display in the centre console and in the optional head-up display. Added to this is the shortcut button for the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs. AMG TRACK PACE, the data logger for use on the race track, is also integrated. The software records more than 80 vehicle-specific data such as speed, acceleration, steering angle and brake pedal actuation ten times per second while the car is being driving around a race track. In addition, there is a display of lap and sector times as well as additional training and analysis tools.

Technical data at a glance

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