Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan can be seen as Affalterbach’s first big step towards standardizing electrification throughout its range. Based on the brand’s MRA II rear-wheel drive architecture, the most accessible rear-biased AMG comes in the shape of this fast Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which employs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with the assistance of a mild-hybrid 48-volt EQ Boost motor. Working with the AMG Speedshift MCT nine-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, this drivetrain produces a claimed 402 horsepower which gives it a massive edge over the Mercedes-AMG C43’s main competitors in the USA, the BMW M340i xDrive and Audi S4.
The Mercedes-AMG C43 embraces gas-electric hybridization and breaks AMG’s traditional heritage with the inclusion of so many new technologies. As a sign of things to come, it’s either a bold or depressing foreshadowing, but in the mid-tier performance realm of the premium compact sedan, it might just be a sweet balancing act that sets the gold standard.
2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan Changes: What’s the difference vs 2022 AMG C43 Sedan?
Officially the second-generation of the C43 nameplate, the 2023 version is an all-new car based on the MRA II platform shared with the W206 C-Class. The W206 benefits from more advanced technology, a more generous list of standard features, larger interior dimensions, and most importantly, more power but less torque thanks to a turbo four-cylinder in place of the old six-pot. Considering this, the entire premise of the C43 is entirely different. The previous W205 model grew to be a rebadged Mercedes-Benz C450 in a bid to attract more sales thanks to the appeal of the AMG badge. With this generation, it is a thoroughbred AMG from the ground up, minus the roar and thunder of previous iterations.
2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan Handling and Driving Impressions
Based on the now all-hybrid C-Class lineup, the bragging rights of having one of the most powerful four-cylinder engines ever might dominate proceedings here. But that power means nothing if the suspension isn’t up to scratch. AMG-specific items like adaptive dampers, stiffer bushings, and thicker bracing make this a firmer beast, but it’s surprisingly neutral, despite a rear-biased (69% to the rear) all-wheel drive system. It feels like a bigger CLA 45, which is high praise, but surprisingly, the front-drive-biased sedan is more playful at the limit. This is predictable, grippy, and, a little boring.
It’ll do all the point-and-shoot things you want, including a 4.6-second 0 to 60 mph sprint time (slower than the old model) thanks to a dedicated launch control, but it lacks the true precision and thrill of the old one.
But it is easy, especially in day-to-day driving scenarios where the rear-axle steering makes the C43 handle like a much smaller car. It’s a big machine, this, but at 3,900 lbs, it still handles well. It’s a sublime all-rounder that’s highly capable, but it’s not the sharpest driver’s tool.
Verdict: Is 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan a good car?
This one is tricky to answer. In isolation, the C43 is a good car, but as an AMG it does fall a bit short. It ticks all of the boxes when it comes to having a sharp chassis, engaging steering system, and phenomenal grip levels, but the new four-pot engine just lacks the traditional AMG character and muscle that many have come to associate with the badge. Even though the W205 model didn’t pack a V8, it still had an element of grunt with that twin-turbo V6 unit. Based on numbers alone, The C43 achieves its goal of being a fast family sedan. In Comfort mode, while the ride is jittery and the transmission a bit delayed, the engine is quiet and responsive to throttle inputs. With the electric motor, it can also produce power right on demand which pretty much eliminates turbo lag altogether. Interior space is also generous as it offers generous head and legroom, provided you don’t specify the AMG Performance seat package, with a fair amount of trunk space. Technically, it does all the things, but it’s a case of winning on paper and not in practice.