Brand purity and authenticity seem to be in peril. At least in the auto industry. Some examples stand out as being notably egregious: Four-door cars are widely being labeled as coupes; signature design elements, such as BMW’s Hofmeister kink and kidney grille, are losing their once traditional forms; and SUVs are morphing into lifted sedans.
The AMG brand is undergoing an identity crisis, as well. Whereas it once adhered to a “one man, one engine” principle, its badge is now displayed on cars powered by mass-manufactured powerplants. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT43 4-Door is one such car; it looks the part of a super-sedan, but its engine’s specifications are identical to those of the Car of the Year-winning Mercedes-Benz E450, which is positioned as a lesser, non-performance model within the Mercedes lineup. We put a Brilliant Blue Metallic GT43 4-Door through our testing regimen in order to determine whether or not its performance lives up to the storied reputation of its AMG badge.
Entry-Level AMG Performance
A 362-hp turbocharged I-6 with mild-hybrid assist powers the entry-level version of the GT 4-Door. The powertrain sends those ponies to all four wheels by way of a nine-speed automatic transmission that delivers sharp shifts and is very responsive when the paddle shifters are put to work.
Off the line, the GT43 4-Door is undeniably quick. During our track testing, we clocked a 4.3-second 0-60-mph sprint, which is even faster than the manufacturer’s estimated time of 4.8 seconds. Something we noticed on the road, and also confirmed on the track, is that this brisk acceleration drops off as the car approaches highway speeds. The GT43 4-Door ran the quarter mile in 13.0 seconds, which is 0.2 second quicker than a 2021 Porsche Panamera but matches that of the much more affordable Audi S5 Sportback.
The GT43 4-Door is at its best on Canyon roads. The transmission’s gear ratios are optimal for such environments, and there’s plenty of grunt from the car’s smooth six-cylinder engine to rocket it out of tight corners.
Although the GT43 4-Door feels a bit big in its default drive mode, the low-slung hatch hits a better stride once it enters its Sport+ drive mode, which stiffens up the suspension, among other things, to improve the body control of the entry-level GT 4-Door. It’s only once this Mercedes finds an open stretch of pavement that its limited horsepower—compared to other GT 4-Door models— becomes apparent; it simply doesn’t pack the straight-line speed we’ve come to expect from an AMG-badged Mercedes.
We were also disappointed by the GT43 4-Door’s braking performance. Stopping distances were inconsistent and so-so, and the brake pedal felt wooden. It’s not exactly the confidence-inspiring experience one expects from a six-figure vehicle with sporting pretensions. Still, its 104-foot stop from 60 mph bettered that of a comparable BMW 840i Gran Coupe, which needed 114 feet to come to a halt. The GT43 4-Door’s steering felt about as inspiring as its left pedal thanks to its artificial heaviness and limited feel.
Although the GT43 4-Door’s ride is optimized for performance driving, its selectable drive mode switch allows the driver to soften the suspension significantly, affording occupants a relaxing journey. The materials inside this luxe four-door are top notch, too, with supple leather, attractive wood, and brushed metal covering nearly every surface within reach.
In fact, the interior experience doesn’t differ much in any capacity from the pricier and more powerful GT53 4-Door and GT63 4-Door. Those buying the GT43 4-Door for its interior, or dare we say its AMG badge, won’t feel like they’re missing out on much. The two massive 12.3-inch screens that dominate the dashboard provide abundant information and entertainment with crystal-clear graphics. Our test car also came equipped with heated and ventilated front seats, an AMG-specific customizable lighting package, and a luxurious-feeling microfiber headliner.
Back-seat room is ample; rear passengers enjoyed their time swaddled in the GT43 4-Door’s leather seats and had plenty of space to stretch their legs. An optional panoramic sunroof allows more light into the cabin. The trunk is similarly spacious—the liftgate opens to reveal a generous cargo area that also has helpful anchor points, as well as elastic straps for securing small objects (such as a bottle of wine).
The GT43 4-Door is a fairly large car, but maneuvering it into a parking spot is made easier thanks to the optional surround-view camera that renders sharp images. In addition to its standard array of safety equipment, this GT43 4-Door test car included the Driver Assistance package that added the likes of lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and active blind-spot assist.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are certainly expected at this price point, and the Mercedes-AMG GT43 4-Door comes standard with both. The car also includes a standard wireless charging pad and a Burmester surround-sound audio system.
Mercedes charges $90,950 for a bare-bones GT43 4-Door. As optioned, this example stickered for $107,995. That’s a lot of cash for a car that doesn’t feel like it’s totally worthy of its AMG badge due to its less-than-thrilling performance.
The GT 4-Door is positioned as the top-dog four-door model in the AMG lineup, so the addition of a rather lackluster variant like this, one that effectively dilutes the purity of the performance sub-brand, leaves us scratching our heads. We’re typically not against sacrificing a few ponies to save a few grand, but in this case, we recommend opting for one of the higher-spec GT 4-Door models to get the full-bore AMG experience. Even if it means spending a bit more.