- Doors and Seats
4 doors, 5 seats
3.0TT, 6 cyl.
- Engine Power
Petrol (98) 9.4L/100KM
9 Spd Auto
5 Yr, Unltd KMs
- Ancap Safety
It may feature a downsized four-cylinder powerplant but the 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 still packs a performance punch.
- Beautifully presented tech integration
- Form-fitting seats and cabin space
- Nimble handling qualities
- Transmission lacks refinement around town
- Exhaust sound could be more characterful
- AMG Performance seats cut into rear legroom
The all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a brilliant showcase featuring equal parts luxury and technology – exactly what you want if in the market for a high-end luxury sedan. But for those wanting a bit of performance with their W206 C-Class, Mercedes-AMG has created the 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43.
It’s still the sub-C63 AMG variant, but quite like its more powerful range-mate, the 2023 C43 has downsized its powerplant to a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
That brings it a lot closer to the Merc-AMG C63 in terms of how much engine you get for your money, whereas before you missed out on two extra cylinders by opting for the more affordable C43 badge. In this new generation, all C-Class models feature a four-cylinder engine, AMG or not.
This is no afterthought AMG either – Mercedes has brought standard-fit rear-wheel steering, AMG Performance 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive, and AMG Ride Control adaptive dampers to the equation.
It also uses electric turbocharging technology derived from its Mercedes-AMG F1 team, designed to reduce turbo lag coming on and off throttle. Without getting too nerdy too early, the system keeps spinning the turbine when exhaust gases alone cannot.
Much of the turbo 2.0-litre engine is shared with the Merc-AMG A45, though the powerplant benefits from a 48-volt mild-hybrid system in this C43 application. Altogether outputs are rated at 300kW/500Nm (up 13kW/down 20Nm over the old AMG C43), which is sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed multi-clutch transmission.
It’s set to take the fight to rivals within its own German ranks such as the BMW M340i and Audi S4, though could also conceivably compete against cars like the Korean Genesis G70 3.3T.
Pricing isn’t known until the car arrives on Australian soil, but Mercedes flew us in to Colmar, France for an initial test drive and look at what buyers can get excited about.
Mercedes has kept styling slightly restrained in order to save the best bits for the AMG C63 (expected later this year), though notable points include the classic AMG Panamericana grille, a revised lower bumper treatment, and new wheel designs – up to 20 inches in diameter.
At the rear end the C43 scores a little spoiler lip on the boot lid, and a more aggressive rear diffuser compared to standard C-Class models. Four exhaust pipes signify the car’s dynamic intent.
|2023 Mercedes-AMG C43|
|Boot volume||455L seats up|
Ultimate specification for Australian-bound C43s isn’t known just yet, though the cars on test in France featured AMG Performance seats, carbon-fibre inlays, and yellow stitching. It all makes the C43 interior feel lovely and sporty, while cabin fit and finish is put together very well. Likewise, all materials used inside the car are nice to the touch – exactly what you want from a premium car.
Infotainment is handled by an 11.9-inch touchscreen which sits in portrait fashion upon the dash. It feels as though it’s angled slightly towards the driver, which enhances at-a-glance visibility when you’re driving along. The new MBUX software features some incredible technology and is refreshingly easy to use, where some other systems overwhelm with features.
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Map screens display beautifully on the big, wide screen, while most settings are easily called up using shortcuts or a quick few presses. I’m a huge fan of the augmented navigation which shows you a live camera view of the road ahead, then overlays directional arrows to show which direction you’re headed. It’s a seamless system which genuinely helps to explain exactly which way you should go – really handy when you’re in unfamiliar territory like eastern France.
You can also use the “Hey Mercedes” voice recognition function to ask the car to perform tasks for you.
The C43 has a specific AMG button on the left-hand panel down the bottom which calls up a branded AMG screen. The car’s dynamic settings can be changed on this screen and you can also record track times using the system.
These settings can also be called upon using the cool steering wheel-mounted dials which switch between Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual drive modes.
In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and head-up display, which both can feature AMG graphics to spice up the mood.
Being 195cm tall I don’t always fit perfectly into every single car, but I’m happy to say I’m more than comfortable behind the wheel of the AMG C43. Despite the car’s low-slung stance – and the fact we’ve all become used to an SUV’s high driving position these days – the vision out of the C43 is great and there are no obvious blind spots to obstruct view.
I’m a huge fan of the new AMG Performance seats and can readily urge buyers to tick that option if on the fence. They’re wonderfully supportive through corners while remaining comfortable and plush enough to see you through longer touring drives. The same couldn’t be said for the old AMG Performance seats.
In terms of other cabin space, there’s good storage up front for odds and ends and passengers behind will be comfortable enough, though taller people might find their rear headroom constricted. The AMG seats are hard-backed and do cut into your knee room.
While this car does have wireless phone charging, I found it annoying you couldn’t see into the little slot to view your phone screen – to see whether it was actually charging or not. It’s also difficult to prise your phone out of the cubby.
Although local specification hasn’t been detailed, we can expect the AMG C43 to inherit all the safety tech offered by the regular C-Class range. The C-Class scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating thanks to a suite of active safety technologies and 10 airbags.
Blessed with quiet French back roads and beautiful sunshine, we took to the wheel of the C43 to test its mettle.
Most notable for the new C43 is the tech-infused 2.0-litre turbocharged engine under the bonnet. The electric turbo system uses a 6kW motor to spin up the turbine when exhaust gases can’t spin it alone. In practice this means when you come off the accelerator at 5000rpm, for example, you press the pedal again and the car is primed for ultimate responsiveness without noticeable turbo lag.
Together with the 48-volt mild-hybrid starter system this C43’s new downsized powertrain packs a convincing punch whether from rest, or already on the move. While not quite the “throw you into the seat back” sensation you’d expect from AMG, the C43 has more than enough shove to motivate the 1765kg kerb weight around.
Mercedes-AMG says it’ll complete a zero-to-100km/h sprint in 4.6 seconds and run on to a 265km/h top speed with the optional AMG Driver’s Package.
It’s a shame the forward movement isn’t accompanied by the same manic crackle and pop exhaust character exhibited by the AMG A45. It doesn’t sound bad, by any stretch, though in absence of the old V6’s rasp and the A45’s emphatic nature, this C43 feels a bit left behind in the sound department.
|Fuel Useage||Fuel Stats|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||9.1L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||15.7L/100km|
|Fuel type||98-octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||57L|
The nine-speed multi-clutch gearbox does a rapid job at swapping cogs when in sport modes, faithfully selecting the right gear at the right time and responding quickly to changing speeds. However, it isn’t so smart when operating around town.
It lacks refinement and our experience unfortunately had it stumbling over itself at low speeds. This is exacerbated if the vehicle’s start/stop system is switched on. It’s not a deal-breaker, but isn’t the Mercedes experience you expect.
As you’d expect the ride profile errs on the firmer side even before putting the adaptive dampers into the sportier setting, picking up and translating hard-edged finishes of manhole covers and road cracks through to the cabin. With that said, it maintains a good balance between what it can do in a dynamic setting, and with how it manages everyday comfort in town. Speed humps are absorbed without much jolting or passenger displacement.
Take the car further afield and the C43 becomes an engaging partner to pedal around a set of switchback corners with. Its multi-mode steering weight feels the right kind of heavy for performance duty, while you can genuinely feel the rear-wheel steering in action. It’s more evident at low speeds while helping the 4791mm-long body manoeuvre about town and through roundabouts, but the system also helps when going faster by making it feel stable and pointed.
|Key details||2023 Mercedes-AMG C43|
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol,|
48-volt mild-hybrid with electric compressor
|Power||300kW @ 6750rpm|
|Torque||500Nm @ 5000rpm|
|Drive type||All-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Nine-speed multi-clutch automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||170kW/t|
Four piston front brakes (single piston rear) bite down hard to arrest movement, but this only occurs once you move past an initial squidgy brake pedal.
Our fuel use across the afternoon spent in the hills and on the freeways of Colmar, France returned a consumption of 15.7L/100km. This is a fair way from Mercedes’ 9.1L/100km claim, though we’ll reserve final judgement for when the car arrives in Australia.
Overall, it’s a quick and capable car to drive in a sports setting, while remaining composed and comfortable in a subdued environment.
It mightn’t be the most characterful and entertaining car to drive fast, but it leaves room for some of that classic AMG lairiness for the forthcoming C63.
What the C43 offers is a healthy blend of comfort, class, technology, and dynamics for those C-Class buyers after that little bit more oomph from their W206.
2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C43 AMG Sedan
Interior Comfort & Packaging
Infotainment & Connectivity
Tom started out in the automotive industry by exploiting his photographic skills but quickly learned that journalists got the better end of the deal. He began with CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and WhichCar and subsequently returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 during its transition to Drive. As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers automotive news, car reviews, advice, and holds a special interest in long-form feature stories. He understands that every car buyer is unique and has varying requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but equally, there’s also a loyal subset of Drive audience that loves entertaining enthusiast content. Tom holds a deep respect for all things automotive no matter the model, priding himself on noticing the subtle things that make each car tick. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new in an everchanging industry, which is then imparted to the Drive reader base.