Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC review

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The Mercedes-AMG C 43 is now quite a different proposition. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

The Mercedes-AMG C 43 swaps its old V6 for mild hybrid power in this 'W206'-generation form. Power is up, but surprisingly, there are few benefits in efficiency and the price pitches the saloon and estate versions of this car into quite exalted territory.


Think of AMG and you tend to think of huge multi-cylindered uber-powerful engines. The reality though is that for an awful long time now, powerplants like those have merely been the headline-makers for this Mercedes performance sub-brand. Ever since the A 45 hot hatch was first launched back in 2013, the volume for this Afalterbach tuning marque has been in smaller four-cylinder units. And actually, AMG's four cylinder history goes back a lot further than that, to the 190E 2.3-16 and 2.5-16 models of the 1980s.

With the launch of the fifth generation Mercedes C-Class in 2021 and its associated GLC SUV models, AMG decided to extend its four cylinder powerplant use a little further up-market, replacing both the V8 of the 63 models and the V6 of the 43 variants with 2.0-litre four-pot units - but very different ones; a Plug-in Hybrid set-up for the 63 S and mild hybrid tech for the 43 variants. It's the C 43 we look at here, offered in saloon or estate form and a very different proposition now from its V6 predecessor.

Driving Experience

If you happen to be familiar with the previous generation C 43, you could be forgiven for approaching this replacement 'W206'-series model with a twinge of disappointment. You might have expected that part of the point of replacing the old snarling V6 with a four cylinder unit would be to aid efficiency by reducing weight, but in fact the saloon version of this car is actually 101kg heavier than its predecessor. Which is why, despite the fact that the 402hp power output this time is 40hp more than before, the rest to 62mph sprint time (4.6s) has been improved by only (0.1s). Top speed is still limited to 155mph. It's also disappointing to note that torque has dropped by 20Nm to 500Nm.

But things get better if you're prepared to stick with what AMG is trying to do here. Somehow, the engineers have managed to make this 'four' sound as good as the old 'six', though it unfortunately lacks the wild roar that characterises much the same M139 2.0-litre unit in the other model in which it's used, the A 45 S hot hatch. Unlike the 8-speed auto used in that car, the engine's paired with a 9-speed auto here and gets a mild hybrid electrified set-up working via a Garret 48V turbo using a compact motor that acts directly on its shaft, spinning at up to 175,000rpm. The mild hybrid system adds a 14hp boost at low speeds to counter turbo lag. Torque is transmitted to tarmac via 4MATIC all-wheel drive system with a rear-biased power split of 31:69.

Standard-fit adaptive dampers firm up noticeably in the fiercest 'Sport' or 'Sport+' Dynamic Select drive modes. Which helps contain body roll through bends where you'll notice the sharp steering, the rear-wheel steering system and that prodigious 1,840kg kerb weight (though that's way better than the portly 2,165kg figure of the PHEV C 63). The brakes are excellent, upgraded to ventilated six-piston calipers at the front, with 370mm brake discs.

Design and Build

As before with this C 43, there's a choice of either saloon or estate body style. Either way, visual differentiation from any ordinary 'AMG Line'-trimmed C-Class is subtle, but brand loyalists would recognise the horizontal strakes on the radiator grille, the side sill extensions and the small boot lid wing. Despite there being just four cylinders beneath the bonnet, there are four exhaust tail pipes beneath the rear bumper too. The wheel arches may not be as beefy as those of a C 63 but they do house large rims of either 19 or 20-inches, depending on the spec chosen.

Inside, if anything, the visual cues to this C 43's identity are even harder to spot. There are special sports seats, various extra AMG badges and an AMG button as a short-cut to the dynamic functions, plus red stitching and red seat belts; that's about it. Otherwise, it's the same screen-dominated cabin as you get in any other C-Class. A huge portrait-style monitor dominates the centre stack, with three 'jet engine'-style circular vents just above and single vents at either end of the dash. A 'floating' 12.3-inch digital instrument panel takes the place of the previous more conventional binnacle.

Space in the rear is slightly improved over the previous model courtesy of this 'W206'-series design's 25mm wheelbase length increase, but it's still comfortable for two and a squash for three. Out back, the 455-litre boot capacity is competitive in the saloon but if you prioritise that, you'll want the Estate variant. Its automatic tailgate rises to reveal 490-litres of luggage room. With the seats folded, that rises to 1,510-litres.

Market and Model

Prices for this C 43 at the time of this review in Autumn 2023 started from just over £67,000, which gets you standard 'Premium' trim. You'll need another £4,000 for plusher 'Premium Plus'-spec. Those figures are for the saloon models: you'll need around £1,600 more for the alternative estate body style. To give you some range perspective, the faster PHEV C 63 model costs from around £98,000.

Whatever C 43 model you choose, it'll come well equipped. 'Premium' spec gets you 19-inch AMG 5-twin-spoke titanium grey alloy wheels, an AMG body styling it with a rear spoiler, privacy glass, rear-axle steering and LED headlamps with the brand's 'Digital Light' technology and the company's 'Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus' set-up. Inside, there's an AMG Performance steering wheel in nappa leather, two-zone Thermotronic automatic climate control, ambient lighting and powered front seats with memory settings. There's black leather upholstery and anthracite line structure lime wood trim too. Plusher 'Premium Plus' spec adds larger 20-inch wheels and a panoramic sliding sunroof, plus 4-zone Thermotronic climate control, a head-up display and a Burmester 3D surround sound system. Plus there's carbon fibre interior trim inlays and a sound personalisation system.

Cost of Ownership

Apparently, the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team worked with the development engineers to create a new turbocharger that gives this mild hybrid engine better efficiency. This four cylinder 48V model though, doesn't appear to be much more frugal than its un-electrified six cylinder predecessor. Mercedes quotes 31.7mpg on the combined cycle but we think anything approach 30mpg on a regular basis would be quite a challenge, particularly if you drive this car in the manner intended. The CO2 reading is 202g/km for the saloon and 204-205g/km for the estate. Insurance is group 44E.

As usual with mild hybrids, there's a belt starter generator acts as an alternator, charging the rear-mounted battery, which in turn powers a booster fitted to the engine. Overall, the system's job is to recoup some of the energy normally lost during braking or coasting, using it to assist the engine under load and to power the car's start/stop system and some of its electric ancillaries.

Service intervals for this C 43 will depend on how far you drive and under what conditions - but Mercedes does offer 'ServiceCare', which allows you to spread your bills into manageable payments, guarantees the price of parts and labour for up to four services, and covers the cost of recommended service items such as brake fluid, spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters and screen wash. Another thing we'll need to tell you is that the comprehensive three year unlimited mileage warranty is built upon by Mercedes' Mobilo scheme which delivers breakdown cover for up to thirty years, as long as you continue to have your car serviced at a Mercedes main dealer.


We had high hopes for this C 43. It does after all, share its engine with arguably the most exciting hot hatch ever made, the Mercedes-AMG A 45S. But the excitement you get in that car has been dialled down in this one and instead of it being a cut-price C 63, what you get instead is a car that doesn't offer an awful lot more than you get in an ordinary C 300. We're disappointed too that the switch to four cylinders hasn't improved efficiency the way it was supposed to.

But of course, one of these would still be a very nice thing to have for an aspiring middle manager: perhaps someone who wouldn't want the extra bite of the kind of BMW M340i xDrive rival model we'd recommend instead. Ultimately, the C 43 isn't a bad package: but it just doesn't feel very 'Mercedes-AMG'. If you don't care and don't mind the price tag, then you still might like one.

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