The Mercedes-Benz C-Class debuted in 1993 as the manufacturer’s entry-level sedan. Now 30 years old, the C class is no longer the cheapest in the lineup. It’s a go-to level for many brand loyalists and it’s an expanded lineup in 2023.
The newbie is the Mercedes-AMG C 43. It’s a turbocharged four-cylinder (the V6 is gone) and the German automaker’s entry-level performance sedan. The electric turbocharger is a first for a production car. Competition includes the Audi S4, BMW M3 and Genesis G70.
While maintaining a traditionally attractive exterior like its stablemates, the AMG collaboration means the vehicle has sports car leanings. The exterior features a new front grille and a front bumper with air intakes. The rear bumper looks similar to air diffusers on a race car and includes dual exhausts. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, but 19 and 20-inch wheels are optional.
The interior includes AMG sport seats with synthetic leather and microfiber upholstery. Red seat belts and accent stitching ideally contrast with an otherwise all-black interior. Performance-oriented elements include Nappa leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel with aluminum shift paddles. Sport pedals, floor mats and illuminated door sills further define the AMG signature.
Performance comes from a 2.0-liter that produces 402 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque and sends it to all four wheels through an AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic transmission. A 48-volt mild-hybrid system takes power with the automatic stop/start feature when coasting in highway speed. The sedan-turned-sports car rate and achieving the 0-to-60 miles per hour standard in 4.6 seconds. The C 43 is limited to 155 mph. Gas mileage averages are 19 miles per gallon in city driving, 26 mph on the highway.
The sedan-sports car persona isn’t always a smooth marriage. Mercedes-Benz models accelerate with a pleasing quick-enough pace. The Mercedes-AMG C 43 accelerates with a lengthy turbo lag with an aggressive engine note. The sound is more rough sore throat-sounding than a smooth, confident roar.
Mercedes’ heritage as a smooth, quiet luxury sedan is deflated via the stop-start system. The engine stops at around five mph when decelerating and then doesn’t restart for what seems like an eternity for a performance car. There’s nothing smooth about the restart, either. The delay is the car’s biggest disappointment.
Once past the initial engine engagement, the new AMG does far better. Acceleration, maneuvering, braking and overall drivability are more likely what Mercedes-AMG had in mind. True to reputation, the sedan drives stiff, poised and proud.
Technology abounds. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic high-beam headlights, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning and safe-exit warning, driver attention warning, and parking damage sensors are standard. Adaptive cruise control, dashcam, highway driving assist, lane-keeping assist and a surround-view camera system are optional.
Bluetooth connectivity, lumbar support split-folding rear seats, power-folding side mirrors, power heated front seats with seat Memory and rain-sensing windshield wipers and wireless smartphone integration (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) extend the impressive features list.
The infotainment system is top-line with a 12.3-inch configurable gauge cluster and an 11.9-inch touchscreen. The system and its various maps, performance data and other function operations via Mercedes’ latest MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) interface. A head-up display is also available.
The front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan begins with a MSRP of $59,900. Six option packages and solo options, from the upgraded leather ($1,620) to the 10-spoke wheels ($1,450) to the panoramic roof ($1,000) push the price to $72,630.
Mercedes-AMG has combined for vast success in other performance vehicles and C 43 fills a new niche. But it’s also a niche that may not need filling.
|Technical data||Mercedes-AMG C 43 Sedan|
|Number of cylinders/arrangement||4/in-line|
|Rated output||hp||402 @ 6,750 rpm|
|Additional output (Boost)||hp||13|
|Rated torque||lb-ft||369 @ 5,000 rpm|
|Mixture formation||combined direct gasoline injection and intake manifold injection, turbocharging by means of electrically assisted exhaust-gas turbocharger|
|Drive configuration||All-wheel drive with rear-biased torque distribution
|Transmission||AMG SPEEDSHIFT® MCT 9G (automatic transmission with wet multi-disc start-off clutch)|
|1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th/7th/ 8th/9th gear||5.35/3.24/2.25/1.64/1.21/1.00/0.87/0.72/0.60|
|Front axle||AMG RIDE CONTROL suspension with aluminum double wishbones, anti-squat and anti-dive control, lightweight coil springs and stabilizer bar as well as Adaptive Damping System|
|Rear axle||AMG RIDE CONTROL suspension with aluminum double wishbones, anti-squat
and anti-dive control, lightweight coil springs and stabilizer bar as well as Adaptive Damping System
|Braking system||Hydraulic dual-circuit brake system; 370 mm brake discs at front, internally ventilated and perforated, 4-piston aluminum fixed caliper; 320 mm brake discs at rear, internally ventilated and perforated, 1-piston aluminum floating caliper; electric parking brake, ABS, Brake Assist, 3-stage ESP®|
|Steering||Electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering with rack and pinion, variable
steering ratio (12.8:1 at dead center) and variable power assistance
|Wheels (standard)||front: 8.0 J x 18; rear: 8.0 J x 18|
|Tires (standard)||front: 245/45 ZR 18; rear: 245/45 ZR 18|
|Dimensions and weights|
|Curb weight acc. to EC||lbs||3,893|
|Acceleration 0-60 mph||sec.||4.6 (est.)|
|Top speed||mph||155 (electronically limited; 165 with opt. 19- or 20-in wheels)|
Article Last Updated: November 21, 2023.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.