New Mercedes-AMG C 43 2022 review
Like the high-performance plug-in hybrid C 63 that is soon to follow, the new Mercedes-AMG C 43 with its four-cylinder engine is a victim of emissions regulations. But while it might not match its V6 predecessor’s character, it more than makes up for this with its performance and breadth of ability, combining comfort and agility. It is on the pricey side, but in estate form it blends this with plenty of practicality, making a brilliant hot estate.
Forget three, Mercedes-AMG thinks four is the magic number for its new C 43 sports saloon. That’s because, unlike its predecessor, this car does not use a V6 engine. Instead, the performance arm of the German firm has opted for a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder mild-hybrid unit tuned to produce 402bhp and 500Nm of torque – so there’s a jump in power over its predecessor too.
We’ve already seen how effective a four-cylinder engine can be in the brand’s A 45 S hot hatchback, so does the C 43 deliver with its new downsized motor?
In estate form, the 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in 4.7 seconds, and thanks to a 48-volt mild-hybrid boost delivering an extra 14bhp, there’s a little added hit of performance away from the line, even if it isn’t totally apparent.
With 500Nm of torque deployed to all four wheels through Mercedes-AMG’s 4MATIC system, mid-range performance and traction are strong too, with the C 43 pulling hard if you’re in Sport mode. In its Comfort setting, throttle response and the gearbox’s reaction are much duller.
And compared with the previous six-cylinder C 43, so is this new four-cylinder model’s sound signature. There’s an amplified note piped in through the speakers in the sportier settings that won’t set purists’ pulses racing, but we can forgive the C 43 this transgression, given its breadth of ability.
In the default Comfort setting, the ride is impressively smooth over even bad surfaces, given the car’s performance potential. The engine is also quiet and refined, with the nine-speed gearbox shuffling ratios effectively to maximise efficiency. On that subject, Mercedes claims 31.4mpg and 205g/km of CO2 emissions.
Move from Comfort to Sport and Sport +, and the engine and transmission’s responses to your throttle inputs become sharper, while you can appreciate AMG’s engineers’ efforts with the C 43’s chassis.
Rear-wheel steering helps to boost low-speed agility (and reduce the car’s turning circle at low speed, so it’s easier to manoeuvre), and for a relatively big machine the C 43 feels sharp and alert. Clearly there’s more to come from the latest iteration of Mercedes’ MRA platform with the 2.0-litre plug-in hybrid C 63, but this car bodes well for the brand’s forthcoming hottest compact performance saloon and estate.
The steering isn’t overflowing with feedback, but it is direct. And between this and the chassis (with the adaptive dampers stiffening up in the two more aggressive settings in the three-stage profile) you feel a good connection with the car, making it easy to place on the road, inspiring confidence and delivering a feeling of fun. Even though the C 43 is all-wheel drive, that’s helped by a system that can send up to 69 per cent of the engine’s output to the rear axle.
Appearance is a key element in any AMG model, and the C 43 looks the part, featuring the firm’s Panamericana grille with vertical bars, a deep front bumper, subtly flared wheelarches covering bespoke 19 or 20-inch alloy wheels (depending on wether you pick Premium or Premium Plus trim), and a diffuser element in the rear bumper that splits the pair of twin exhaust pipes. It’s a similar story inside, with a pair of sporty two-piece seats in the front that fix you securely in place and help save some weight. The package also includes an AMG performance steering wheel, sportier stitching and black leather upholstery.
Given that its £64,760 price makes it the current range-topper, you’d expect the C 43 to offer lots of standard kit – and it does.
The MBUX 11.9-inch infotainment system and 12.3-inch digital dash from the regular C-Class are included, along with adaptive high beam, augmented-reality satellite navigation and a 360-degree parking camera, as well as full keyless go. Opt for Premium Plus trim and you’ll get those larger wheels and a full panoramic roof, too.
There’s plenty of space in the rear of the C 43 Estate, albeit reduced slightly over a regular model due to the car’s sporty seats. And with a standard powered tailgate that opens to reveal 490 litres of boot space (rising to 1,510 litres with the rear seats folded down), the C 43 Estate nails the practicality bases of a fast wagon, too.
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