Mercedes-AMG C43

Enthusiasts who swear by the mantra “there’s no replacement for displacement” might reconsider their stance when introduced to the 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43. Positioned as the intermediary model in the C-Class lineup, nestled between the C300 and the range-topping C63 S E Performance, this sport sedan breaks tradition by adopting a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A departure from its predecessor’s twin-turbo V-6, the C43 now incorporates technology derived from Mercedes-AMG’s Formula 1 racing triumphs.

Celebrated in the past for striking the right balance in motoring, the 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 prompts anticipation of living up to its legacy during our rigorous testing.

While this isn’t the first encounter with the C43 in India, the 2023 version arrives in a fresh four-door sedan avatar. Unlike its predecessors powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, the new C43 boasts a downsized 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.

Exteriors: Mercedes-AMG C 43

Sharing design elements with the C-Class sedan, the new C 43 sports an alluringly handsome exterior. Emphasizing its sporty character, the C 43 boasts the AMG-specific Panamericana front grille and an athletic body kit. 

Notably, its 19-inch multi-spoke alloys add to its allure, albeit the slender 40-profile tires demand cautious navigation around potholes. The rear profile stands enhanced by quad exhaust tips, further accentuating its sporty demeanor.

Interiors: Mercedes-AMG C 43

Internally, akin to the C-Class, the AMG variant features an all-black cabin, accentuated by red seat belts and a simulated carbon-fiber panel. 

Bolstering its sporty appeal, the car incorporates body-hugging bucket seats with firmer cushioning and an AMG steering wrapped in a blend of leather and Alcantara.

The steering panel offers quick-access shortcut buttons facilitating effortless adjustments to drive modes and other key functions governing exhaust and suspension settings. 

Retaining the 11.9-inch LCD instrument cluster, the C 43 introduces AMG-specific displays, complemented by a 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. Particularly valuable for refining driving skills on the race track, these displays record and present multifarious parameters.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features: Mercedes-AMG C 43

Similar to the C-class, the C43 is equipped with a range of standard driver-assistance features. Regrettably, the car’s most impressive technology, such as an adaptive cruise-control system utilizing navigation data to adjust the vehicle’s speed for upcoming curves and roundabouts, remains an optional addition. 

Performance: Mercedes-AMG C 43

Under the hood, the AMG-forged 2.0-liter turbo-petrol engine, codenamed M139l (with ‘l’ signifying longitudinal installation), meticulously crafted at Affalterbach under the revered ‘One Man One Engine’ ethos. Mercedes-AMG proudly integrates technologies cultivated by the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, heightening the car’s performance.

A standout F1-inspired innovation is the electric-exhaust gas turbocharger, featuring an embedded electric motor that primes the turbo before exhaust gasses amass, obliterating turbo lag. 

Complementing this, a 48V mild-hybrid system, linked to the belt-driven starter generator, supplies a momentary 13hp boost under heavy loads. The outcome? Impeccably crisp power delivery and a seamless, exhilarating acceleration, persisting 500 Nm and revving up to the enchanting 402.30bhp threshold. 

But in terms of acceleration, it lags somewhat below the C63 S E Performance, taking 4.6 seconds instead of the remarkable 4.2 seconds for the 0-100 kmph race of its predecessor.

However, the sole drawback emerges in the auditory domain. Despite the engine’s prowess, enthusiasts might pine for the emotive sound characteristic of its six-cylinder counterparts or its predecessor. Environmental regulations temper this auditory symphony, albeit Mercedes attempts to remedy this by incorporating a microphone within the exhaust system, relaying real-time tones through the speakers to partially enrich the aural experience.

Managing transmission duties is a 9-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. While it thrills with its agility during spirited drives, city speeds expose occasional roughness in downshifting, tarnishing its otherwise impressive performance.

Additionally, the mild-hybrid system incorporates automatic engine stop-start technology, preemptively halting the engine before a complete standstill. 

Yet, the system’s tendency to re-engage itself when transitioning from Sport or Sport Plus drive modes to Comfort mode can prove irksome. Another idiosyncrasy lies in the hypersensitive ‘automatic brake assist,’ necessitating manual deactivation at the start of each drive to prevent overly aggressive braking interventions.

Read Also: Audi Q8 Facelift: Truly New? A Review

Ride and Handling: Mercedes-AMG C 43

The ‘4Matic’ nomenclature signifies a rear-biased, permanent all-wheel-drive system, channeling 31 percent of torque to the front and 69 percent to the rear wheels. Notably, the C 43 incorporates rear-axle steering, enabling rear wheels to articulate up to 2.5 degrees in alignment or opposition to the front wheels, contingent on speed. 

Particularly beneficial at lower speeds, this feature endows the car with remarkable maneuverability, especially during U-turns. However, its true prowess emerges when navigating corners, where it not only mimics the agility of smaller vehicles but also adeptly conceals its hefty 1.8-ton curb weight. 

Although its weight may surface on the race track, on winding roads, drivers will admire its agility, poise, and remarkable grip levels. The steering further impresses with its sharp responsiveness.

Equipped with steel springs and adaptive dampers offering three distinct settings—Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus—the C 43 allows configurable suspension preferences regardless of the drive mode. 

Optimal balance emerges in the Sport damping setting, minimizing lateral motions evident in Comfort while eschewing the harshness associated with Sport Plus. 

Despite a stiffer setup than the C-Class sedan, the suspension manages to sidestep excessive rigidity, avoiding discomfort or jolts, even over inadvertent encounters with potholes.

Price and Final Verdict 

The Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic shines with its driving dynamics, leveraging the potency of its downsized four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine. Laden with cutting-edge technology, the car exudes modernity and performance prowess.

However, the asking price of Rs 98 lakh (ex-showroom) for the C 43 might raise eyebrows, especially when compared to its counterparts. 

The Audi S5, priced Rs 23 lakh lower, and the locally assembled BMW M340i, Rs 27 lakh more affordable, both feature larger 6-cylinder engines offering similar performance with richer auditory experiences. 

Yet, the C43’s on-road performance makes it a compelling choice, overshadowing the cylinder deficit and justifying the investment for those seeking a remarkable sports sedan experience.

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