While Sport mode was ideal for the drivetrain, due to a quirk of the electronic power steering system, Comfort mode is actually somewhat preferable for more precise work. Why? Because the E43's steering system has a somewhat bizarre centering force, again baked into its design. As the wheel is turned steering force ramps up quickly as it nears the 15-degree range, then quickly falls off again; on its own, that's not too annoying. When unwinding the wheel, however, that same force draws the wheel back to center, resulting in more steering input than desired, unsettling the car's balance. It can be anticipated and corrected for by the driver, but this odd tuning is definitely fighting against you when you're putting effort into driving the car well.
Fortunately, there's an Individual mode which allows the driver to tune steering feel, drivetrain responsiveness, and suspension settings independently of each other, selecting from each of the four primary modes for any setting. With the drivetrain in Sport, steering in Comfort, all that's left for the Goldilocks AMG Dynamic Select setup is to pick Sport for the suspension, and you're driving one of the most well-tuned sport sedans on the road. The differences in ride quality are not huge, even from Comfort to Sport+, but they are perceptible. In general, the E43's ride quality is firm, but comfortable, though the extra stiffness added to the front and rear subframes does transmit more noise into the cabin than that of the non-AMG E-Class.
As smart as the performance side of the new Mercedes-AMG E43 is, it has all of the brains of the standard E-Class, too, including its available advanced driver aids. Between lane-keeping, automatic cruise control, and automated lane changes (just move the turn indicator to the side you wish to go, and it figures out the rest), highway driving requires much less driver attention, but it does still require some. Painted lines are fickle, weather is changeable, cameras and sensors are fallible—the human mind is still a key component, it just has a safety net now—and an easy-to-use, mostly effective one, too.
2017 Mercedes-AMG E43 first driveEnlarge Photo
Like its driver assistance tech, Mercedes' design, both interior and exterior, is at the top of its game. The upgrades to the standard E-Class's handsome looks made for the AMG E43 make for a subtly more intense stance. Interior trims of either aluminum or carbon fiber accent solid-feeling switches and large-easy-to-read displays. Package and trim specifics for the American market haven't been announced yet, but the European-spec models we drove look and feel just like we've come to expect modern Mercedes-Benzes from the C-Class to the S-Class—well-built, stylish, and elegant. Active brake assist with pedestrian detection, evasive steering assist, active side-impact seats that move inboard before a crash happens, and much more are also available.
Unlike the 2017 E-Class Wagon, which will be available in E400 trim with a 329-hp, 354-lb-ft version of the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 found in the E43 (minus AMG enhancements), the 2017 E-Class Sedan will only be offered in E300 and E43 trim below the mighty E63 S, making the E43 your only compromise play. And no, we Americans won't get an E43 Wagon.
So go ahead, be responsible. Be an adult. Skip the fries. The burger is great.