Mercedes AMG C 43 4Matic review: 4 cyls thrills

    AMG has worked its magic on the C-Class sedan to transform it into a bonafide sports sedan.

    Published on Nov 20, 2023 11:00:00 AM


    Model : C-Class
    We Like
    • Agile handling
    • Strong performance
    We Don't Like
    • Expensive
    • Lacks aural drama

    In our Mercedes C-Class review, we praised the new generation’s phenomenal body control, and now AMG has worked its magic and transformed it into a grin-inducing sports sedan called the Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic.

    This isn’t the first time India is introduced to this moniker though. First came the four-door sedan in 2017, then the two-door coupe in 2019, and now it’s back in an all-new four-door sedan avatar. Unlike the previous iterations that were powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, this new C 43 is powered by a downsized 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.

    A lowered ride height, racier body kit and quad exhaust tips make it look the part.

    Mercedes-AMG C 43 performance

    The heart of the matter is its AMG-developed 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine codenamed M139l (l stands for longitudinal installation), manufactured at Affalterbach, in accordance with the ‘One Man One Engine’ principle. And the company says they have carried over some technologies developed by the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team to further enhance its performance. 

    A key F1-derived tech is the electric-exhaust gas turbocharger. It features a small electric motor integrated into the turbocharger, which spools up the turbo even before the exhaust gases build boost, thus eliminating turbo lag. There’s also a 48V mild-hybrid system that feeds the belt-driven starter generator providing a momentary boost of 14hp under heavy load. What all this results in is a very crisp power delivery and a strong seamless and exciting build-up of speed. It pulls relentlessly even post 5,000rpm, and revs till the magical 7,000rpm mark.

    AMG-developed engine built at Affalterbach in accordance with the 'One Man One Engine' principle.

    The only downside is that even when this four-cylinder engine is on song, you will miss the visceral sound experience of its six-cylinder rivals or even its predecessor. You could blame environmental regulations for muting this engine even further, however, to rectify this and enhance the aural experience (to some extent), Mercedes has put a mic into the exhaust system which picks up the tone and plays it through the speakers in real time. 

    Transmission duties are handled by a 9-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. When you are driving in a spirited manner, this transmission will thrill you with its quickness and eagerness. However, at city speeds, it isn’t the smoothest and downshifts can occasionally feel jerky.

    The mild-hybrid system also features automatic engine stop-start tech, which turns off the engine even before coming to a complete halt. Annoyingly, if you happen to turn this feature off, and switch from Sport or Sport Plus drive mode to Comfort mode, it automatically turns back on. Another quirk is its hypersensitive ‘automatic brake assist’ function, which you will have to religiously turn off each time you start your drive, as it slams on to the brakes very aggressively, even in scenarios you would otherwise be far gentler on the brakes to reduce speed.

    Rear-axle steering makes it handle like a much smaller, nimbler car.

    Mercedes-AMG C 43 ride and handling

    The 4Matic in its name represents a rear-biased, full-time all-wheel-drive system, which transmits 31 percent of the torque to the front and 69 percent to the rear wheels. One key highlight of the C 43 is its rear-axle steering, which turns the rear wheels up to 2.5 degrees either in the direction of the front wheels or in the opposite direction, depending on the speed. And at low speeds, this all-wheel steering makes it very manoeuvrable, especially while taking U-turns. But the rear-axle steering truly shines when you are attacking corners, not only making the C 43 handle like a smaller, nimbler car but also by masking its 1.8-tonne kerb weight very effectively. You might still feel its weight around a race track, but on your favourite winding sections of road, you will appreciate the grace and poise with which it changes directions, as well as the astonishing levels of grip on offer. Even its steering impresses with its crispness and sharpness.

    The car rides on steel springs and adaptive dampers with three damping settings (which you can configure, irrespective of the drive mode) – Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus. To experience the best of both worlds, dial it to the Sport damping setting at all times; it eliminates the side-to-side rocking movements, which are noticeable in Comfort and doesn’t feel as hardcore as the Sport Plus setting. What’s nice is that while the suspension setup feels much firmer than the C-Class sedan, it doesn’t feel overly stiff or bone-jarring, and does not rattle your spine should you accidentally happen to crash into a pothole.

    Four-cylinder engine punches above its weight when it comes to performance on account of the F1 tech.

    Mercedes-AMG C 43 exterior design, interior

    Like the C-Class sedan it is based on, the new C 43 is a handsome sedan. In line with its sporty character, the C 43 gets the AMG-specific Panamericana front grille and a racy body kit. Especially attractive are its 19-inch multi-spoke alloys, however, with slim 40-profile tyres, you will need to tackle potholes with utmost care. Quad exhaust tips spruce up its rear profile.

    Exhaust sounds rather muted; a mic in the exhaust system plays sounds through the speakers for a better aural experience.

    The interiors are similar to the C-Class, however, the AMG iteration features an all-black cabin, red seat belts and a faux carbon-fibre panel. To enhance its sportiness quotient further, it gets body-hugging bucket seats with firmer cushioning and an AMG steering, both of which are draped in a mix of leather and Alcantara.

    Sporty steering draped in Alcantara and leather, looks good and feels great to hold.

    The steering also features quick access shortcut buttons to change the drive modes (on the right) as well as other key functions to change the setting for exhaust and suspension, among other things. It carries forward the 11.9-inch LCD instrument cluster, however, it now has some AMG-specific displays, and its 12.3-inch touchscreen also features useful telemetry which records multiple parameters, particularly useful to hone driver skills around a race track. 

    Quick access shortcut menus on the steering to change key settings on the move.

    Mercedes-AMG C 43 price, verdict

    The Mercedes-AMG C 43 4Matic drives brilliantly and its downsized four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine is extremely potent and punches well above its weight. What’s also neat is that the car is thoroughly modern and packs in some neat cutting-edge tech. 

    Mercedes is asking a sizeable Rs 98 lakh for the C 43. Yes, it is an import, but so is the Audi S5, which is Rs 23 lakh more affordable, while the locally assembled BMW M340i is Rs 27 lakh cheaper. And its rivals get larger 6-cylinder engines with similar performance and sound much nicer. But out on the road, the C 43 puts up a much better fight, and once behind the wheel, you’ll forget about the deficit in cylinders and possibly the surplus cash you’ve splurged. So if you’re lucky enough to be in the market for a sports sedan, the C 43 deserves some attention. 

    Also see:

    Mercedes-AMG SL 55 review: Open air theatre

    Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC walkaround video

    Mercedes-AMG GT 63 to be replaced by an EV in 2025

    Tech Specs

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