Ripping a biturbo V6, out of the previous C 43 to deliver this new one’s 4-cylinder may seem like sacrilege at first sight. But is it?
Not every performance junkie likes what’s happening in the car market right now. A world that’s used to brawny engines delivering feisty performance, is struggling to come to terms with carmakers reeling against ever more draconian emissions levels. And delivering cars like this.
But hang on a second, is it all bad? Well, on the face of it, ripping AMG’s entry-level 396 HP 370 lb.-ft biturbo V6, out of the previous C 43 to deliver this new one’s 402 HP 369 lb.-ft four-cylinder may seem like sacrilege at first sight. But is it?
Well, not really. Built right here on the banks of the Buffalo River in East London, the new four-pot C 43 at least gives you a real combustion performance car. Sure, a scrawny 2-litre in place of a biturbo V6, or even better, a V8, may seem like a terrible sacrifice. But it really isn’t that bad. Especially considering your next option is probably an EV.
Many C43 Positives Will Balance Your Point Of View
There are many positives to balance your point of view. This new one is for instance the world’s first ever electric exhaust gas turbocharged production car. Its four-cylinder engine also benefits brief additional 15 HP boost from its belt-driven starter-generator, it is permanent all-wheel driven, and it even has rear-axle steering.
AMG spun the M139l four-pot you may know from the A45 ninety degrees to mount it longitudinally in the C43. It has a lightweight closed-deck engine design to allow up to 160 bar combustion pressures, and also features 200 bar two-stage piezo petrol injection.
Built to AMG’s famous One Man, One Engine philosophy, the new downsized C43 lump has Nanoslide low friction cylinder bore coatings and a sophisticated variable cooling system. That conspires to run the engine’s cylinder head and crankcase at different temperatures. This mighty powerful 2-litre’s biggest trick is however its turbocharging.
An Electric Motor Between The Turbine & Compressor
Mercedes promises spontaneous throttle response. To help achieve that, AMG installed a 48-volt electric motor directly between the turbocharger’s turbine and compressor. This motor pre-spins the turbo wheel up to 175,000 rpm. Which in turn boosts up the inlet plenum to help eliminate lag. For that spontaneous response across the rev range…
C 43 also has rear-biased 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive via AMG’s Speedshift MCT 9G transmission. The gearbox has a wet start-off clutch, brings short shift times and fast multiple downshifts. Sport and Sport+ driving modes further add to an emotional gearshift experience. Comfort mode activates Eco start-stop and a C 43 even brings a Glide function.
The 4Matic all-wheel drive gets AMG-specific 31 to 69 torque distribution front to rear. AMG Ride Control steel-spring suspension gains adaptive damping in Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes. AMG Dynamic Select additionally includes Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport + and Individual drive modes for versatile vehicle characteristics, at Basic, Advanced, and Pro levels.
C 43 Has Standard Rear-Axle Steering
C 43 also features three-stage AMG steering and standard rear-axle steering up to 2.5 degrees. The rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels to enhance slow speed maneuverability at speeds up to 60 mph. The rear wheels however turn in the same direction as the fronts to deliver enhanced driver feel at higher speeds and when in the Sport settings.
AMG sports braking is courtesy of 370 x 36 mm rotors clamped by 4-piston fixed calipers up front, and 320 x 24 mm single-piston floating calipers at the rear. An AMG exhaust system of course equips the C43 with that sporty engine sound and the appropriate acoustic drama.
A chrome-strutted radiator grille and all the AMG addenda sets the C 43 apart. That includes a front apron with flics, air ducts and chrome trim up front. Add bold sill panels, a rear diffuser, and double twin-tailpipes. The AMG effect on ours was rounded off by a cool set of shiny multi-spoke 20-inch alloys in ultra-low-profile rubber.
A Delectable, Distinctively Upholstered Cabin
The C-Class’ already delectable cabin gains distinctively upholstered, red-trimmed black man-made Artico leather and Microcut fiber clad AMG seats. The nappa clad flat bottom AMG Performance paddle shifter multifunction steering wheel comes complete with additional dynamic selectors and looks fantastic.
We are however not at all fans of Merc’s latest touchpad technology. In short, it’s a failure. And a significant step back from the previous simpler if uglier multifunction steering wheel solution that a regular human being could at least still operate. Carmakers are fleeing away from this ridiculous ‘technology’. Come on Mercedes, join the rush!
Same goes for the over-simplified touch only MBUX screen. It looks fantastic but it is so difficult to operate. Rather just try shout Hey Mercedes and try order the car to solve your secondary control dilemmas. MBUX infotainment includes special AMG displays and functions. Good luck trying to find them on a bumpy road!
The Industry Has Run Down A Desperate Car Interface Hole
The car industry in general has run itself down a rather desperate human to car interface hole. The sooner the carmakers collectively dig themselves out if it, and return to systems that actually work, the better…
Fire the C45 4Matic up and you’re blessed with the regular, dramatic Mercedes-AMG start-up fanfare. It soon settles down to a quiet, sensible tone. Plush and surprisingly smooth, prod it and the drama rapidly returns. For all that steering tech, the tiller is surprisingly stodgy. Lacks the feel of daintier-steering rivals. This 43 also suffers that spongy C-Class brake feel.
Producing 402 HP at a lofty 6750 rpm for a turbocharged engine and 369 lb.-ft torque up to 5000 rpm, the AMG four-pot is surprisingly free revving. To be honest, however, for all that song and throttle response dance, immediate reaction to your right foot is not quite as sharp as one would expect.
AMG C43 Delivers What it Promises On Paper
Sure, it’s not bad, but it’s nowhere near the sort of normally aspirated perfection the bumf may have you believe. In fact, we’d have not made a fuss about it at all, if it wasn’t so over stressed in the product literature. That said the Mercedes-AMG C 43 delivers what it promises on paper.
A Race Start function ensures optimal acceleration. Mercedes claims AMG C 43 will rush to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and on to 155 mph. Ours had the optional 165 mile an hour AMG Driver’s Package. And as one expects from Benz, ours also came to within three hundredths of a second of that acceleration claim in our tests.
Quicker, of course, but not quite as quick as its principal rival from Munich. Still mighty impressive in its own right. Our petrol consumption also matched AMG’s claims, burning just a gallon of premium unleaded every 24 miles. C 43 also sounds good considering it’s just a four cylinder, especially aggressive under launch control, to help make up for that engine downgrade.
Splendid C 43 a Car Of Contrasts
As you may have gathered by now, the Mercedes-AMG C 43 is a car of contrasts. Yes, sure, it tosses a brawny V6 for a just as powerful, but far more economical and efficient fancy four cylinder. But this car will still likely find broad favor.
See, this C 43 still looks the part, goes the part, and screams AMG. And at a significant discount to its full-blooded imminent C 63 sibling. OK, 4.5 seconds to sixty is a fair whack off the pace of its 63 kin. But then it’s also a whole lot cheaper at it.
For the rest, this fully-specced medium-hot sedan has it all and then some. It has good balance of drivability, comfort, and performance to better satisfy a broader audience every day. Rest assured, AMG still has it all covered. 2-litre four-pot or not.
Road Tested: Mercedes-AMG C 43 Sedan
Engine: 402 HP 369 lb.-ft 2-liter turbo I4
Drive: 9-speed automatic AWD
0-40 mph: 2.20 sec
0-60 mph: 4.59 sec
0-100 mph: 9.84 sec
¼-mile: 12.6 sec @ 115 mph
50-75 mph: 2.72 sec
75-100 mph: 3.85 sec
VMax: 160 mph
Fuel: 24 mpg
Range: 400 miles
LIST PRICE: $59,900 MSRP