“There’s no replacement for displacement” is a common phrase used in the car world. Therefore, when you hear about a sports car manufacturer downsizing, you might assume that the world is going soft. However, Mercedes has been trying its best to make this phrase obsolete. While other manufacturers in the segment are attempting to maintain their larger displacement engines to be as frugal and efficient as possible, Mercedes has gone the opposite way. They approached the problem of stringent emissions restrictions from the other spectrum, completely discarding the six-pot engines and bringing in a new set of race-bred four-pot engines with technology derived from their Formula 1 racing team. The real question is whether this is enough to settle the battle of displacement.
This sport sedan is currently the top model of the C-Class in our country, globally it sits between the C300 and the range-topping C63 S E Performance. The previous-generation model used a twin-turbo V-6, but now Mercedes-AMG outfits the C43 with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that uses technology the company says it derived from its highly successful Formula 1 racing program. The 2024 C43 comes with a downsized turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four. Not to worry: this new engine’s power is anything but downsized, as it makes a healthy 402 horsepower and is assisted by a 48-volt hybrid system which can temporarily contribute up to 13 more ponies at lower rpm. (The hybrid assist doesn’t add to the total power output, however.) The new engine’s turbocharger setup is partially derived from the company’s F1 racing-engine tech.
The turbocharger incorporates an auxiliary electric motor to spin up the compressor quicker, which in turn reduces turbo lag. A nine-speed automatic is standard—sorry if you were hoping for a manual—and so is all-wheel drive, a rear-wheel steering system, and adaptive dampers. The C43 accelerates to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and reaches a quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at 111 mph. The C43’s handling is as sharp as expected and cornering grip is plentiful. The tradeoff for that level of performance is a ride that’s firm in even the softest drive mode setting.
Inside, the C43 mimics the Mercedes-Benz C300’s cabin but gives it a sporty twist using racier materials such as optional carbon fiber trim. The C43 also comes with a sport steering wheel which features a flat bottom, a leather-and-suede wrap, and the AMG logo on the bottom spoke. Performance seats are available too, as is a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, four-zone automatic climate control, and noise-insulating window glass. All in all, the inside of the C43 looks and feels how an ‘8-figure’ car should. All models come with a large 11.9-inch infotainment touchscreen that is seamlessly integrated into the center console and canted slightly toward the driver. A 12.3-inch digital gauge display is also standard, and the system runs the latest MBUX software interface that allows for voice activation. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included and offer wireless connectivity; a wireless smartphone charging pad is standard. A high-end Burmester stereo system is optional, as is a head-up display, and in-dash navigation.
The AMG C43 is an excellent sports sedan that offers the fun and excitement of a sports car along with the luxury and features of a high-end sedan. However, it stands out from its german competition by being more aggressive and luxurious (and also more expensive). If you want a car that stands out, the C43 is a better choice than the M340i and S5. But unlike the BMW or the Audi, there is limited potential for tuning the C43’s engine, as the M139l engine is already at its limit from the factory. Nonetheless, the C43 is a fantastic car for anyone who loves to drive and wants to feel behind the wheel of something special.