Who needs a big engine when Mercedes can build engines that put out more than 200 horses per liter?by Robert Moore, on LISTEN 05:11
The 2022 Mercedes C-Class may have brought some S-Class tech to the middle class, but it also brought some significant change under the hood. The entire C-Class lineup, AMG models included, will only be offered with four-cylinder engines. In short, Mercedes is making good use of its somewhat outrageous M139 inline-four, the same one that manages to produce 381 horsepower in the AMG A45 and 416 horsepower in the AMG A45 S. Now, Mercedes has revealed the new AMG C43, and like the rest of the C-Class it features another version of the M139, this time tuned to just a hair over 400 ponies, and that’s for the base C43
The Mercedes-AMG C43 in Brief
The 2023 AMG C43 follows the same design path as the new C-Class that it’s based on, and while it doesn’t deviate much from the outgoing C43, it still has an ambiance of freshness to it. It’s also not all that different from the base C-Class, though, it does have AMG’s Panamericana grille, a slightly restyled front fascia, and an overall more aggressive nose.
There’s also black trim thrown about instead of chrome, especially around the windows. Four round exhaust pipes expel the four-cylinder’s soundtrack while the new mini spoiler on the rear deck adds just a hint of sportiness. The thing about the C43 Sedan is that it doesn’t look anywhere as aggressive as one would usually expect from something with an AMG badge. It blends into the lineup well, but for a performance sedan, it looks more like a sleeper than what it really is.
Under the hood sits an electrified version of Mercedes’ M139, 2.0-liter, inline-four. In the C43, it’s tuned to deliver 402 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, which is a bit more than expected. There’s a boost system built into the 48-volt mild-hybrid system that boosts horsepower by 13 ponies, too. All told, despite being a smaller engine, this is a big improvement. The old C43 was powered by a heavier, 3.0-liter, twin-turbo, V-6 that put down 385 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. So, torque is down a bit, not surprisingly, but horsepower is up by 17 ponies.
Part of what makes this engine so capable is the turbocharger. AMG has basically taken some older F1 tech and repurposed it to electrify the turbocharger. There’s a 1.6-inch thin electric motor built onto the turbocharger’s shaft. During initial acceleration, which turbos typically suffer from lag as the turbo needs to spool, the electric motor kicks in and drives the shaft. This process accelerates the compressor wheel in immediate fashion and eliminates any lag there would be before the exhaust can take over spinning the compressor wheel.
Power is routed to all four wheels via AMG’s nine-speed, multi-clutch automatic transmission, but here the 4Matic AWD system is programmed to distribute 31-percent of torque to the front axle and 69-percent of torque to the rear wheels. There are a number of drive modes built-in, including Sport, Sport+, Comfort, and Individual, but the highlight is Race Start. This drive mode optimizes the transmission, throttle response, and fuel delivery to provide optimal acceleration from a standstill. Consider it a launch control function with a fancy name.
In the end, the AMG C43 can hit 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. That is unless you opt for the 19- or 20-inch wheels, in which case Mercedes will bump that speed limiter up to 165 mph.
As you’d expect from something with an AMG badge, the C43 comes standard with most of the features you want. AMG’s Ride Control, Adaptive Damping System, and rear-axle steering are all included under the standard umbrella. Another unexpected turn in this department, though, is the braking system. There are four-piston fixed calipers in the front but single-piston floating calipers in the rear.
On the inside, the C43 features some carry-over from the S-Class, just like the non-AMG models. Since it’s an AMG model, though, you’ll get the AMG sports seats, flat-bottom AMG steering wheel, AMG sports pedals, and the red stitching throughout the cabin. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster sits ahead of the steering wheel while an 11.9-inch center touchscreen serves as the hub for infotainment. Pricing for the 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 has yet to be announced, though, the outgoing model started at around $56,500, so the new model should carry a similar price with maybe a small price bump at best.