2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC
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First Drive: 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC Review

With the new C43, Mercedes-AMG proves that its active participation in formula 1 is more relevant than ever.

Key Features:

  • Impressive performance
  • Smooth and comfortable
  • State of the art technology

Direct Competitors:

  • BMW M340i
  • Audi S4
  • Genesis G70 3.3T Sport

The inevitable arrival of stricter emissions regulations forced carmakers to rethink the internal combustion engine altogether. What does this all mean for Mercedes-AMG, a performance arm that has had its feet well grounded in petrol for half a century? It means developing what is arguably the most technologically advanced four-cylinder engine in years for the C43.

We drove the latest, 2023 model in France during its world launch to see what it has in stock.

Mercedes-AMG C43 price and main rivals

2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

The C43 still acts as the C Class’s “baby AMG”, a warmer than hot alternative to a standard C300 sedan, but still not as potent as a full-blown C63. Yet, it still packs enough punch to be considered a pure-bred sport sedan. It takes on machines such as the Audi S4, the BMW M340i and the Genesis G70 3.3T Sport.

Release date

Because the car we drove was a European-spec model, Canadian pricing isn’t yet released. The new C43 is scheduled to hit our market at the end of this year as a 2023 model, with pricing set to be announced a few weeks prior. 

Inside the new C Class compact sedan

The new C Class really steps things up in terms of the overall cabin experience. Mercedes-Benz flexes more technological muscle than its main German competitors here thanks to the enormous MBUX central command screen. Gone is the rotary dial and touch pad of the old system. It’s now entirely touch-operated and works well, with quick responding menus, attractive graphics, and downright common-sense ergonomics.

2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

A second screen acts as the car’s main gauge cluster where the driver can fully customize the readout they prefer. Perhaps where this C Class impresses the most is in its clever use of augmented reality for its infotainment system. 

AMG interior features

In AMG form, the C43 spices things up with sport bucket seats that both look and feel fantastic. Yellow stitching is replicated on the dashboard and door inserts to contrast the seats (as tested), but all of it can be customized when purchasing the car. 

The AMG-specific steering wheel is thicker, wrapped in Alcantara and adds two rotary dials towards the bottom for drive modes and individual settings such as exhaust tone and suspension tuning. AMG also integrates an additional performance menu in the infotainment system for individual calibration or enhanced telemetry when driving on a closed circuit. 

2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

This AMG’s cabin is comfortable considering that the car is no larger than its predecessor, but It’s still difficult to enter the darn thing up front due to the narrow door openings and aggressive bolsters from those seats. Once inside, however, there are plenty of controls and comfort features that make this a comfortable ride. That said, tall passengers might find the rear seat a little cramped, especially around the legs.

C43 4MATIC performance and driving impressions

New turbo engine for 2023

Under the hood is obviously where the AMG C43 shines the brightest. Gone is the old V6 engine. In its place sits a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 48-volt mild hybrid technology. The magic happens inside its turbocharger where Mercedes-AMG took a page out of the formula one rulebook by integrating an electric motor.

The goal was to give a small turbocharger the characteristics of a large turbo, such as a colossal 54 psi of boost. Another benefit of this electric motor is to allow the turbocharger to spool before exhaust gases enter on the other end. In other words, the turbo is always on, no matter at what rpm the engine is turning. The result is virtually no turbo lag and throttle response is instant. 

Over 400 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque

2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

This compact marvel of engineering pumps out an impressive 408 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. All of it is channeled to the ground via a nine-speed automatic transmission and a 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. AMG engineers also added all-wheel steering for improved cornering precision. 

From behind the wheel, it’s hard to hide the fact that this engine is missing two cylinders. That 2.0T may be strong on paper, but the fact of the matter is that it’s 0.4 seconds behind the old car from 0 to 96 km/h (4.6 versus 4.2 seconds). 

But out there on open French roads, the 2023 AMG C43 was no slouch. While not as aggressive as its predecessor off the line, there’s no denying how quick to react this four-cylinder is. Turbo boost comes on instantly with an urgent surge of power and torque that’s felt low in the rev range, and that keeps puffing all the way to redline. 

Lighter on its feet, quicker in the corners

There’s also the obvious realization that this drivetrain is considerably lighter than the old one, which gives this C43 a nimbler feel up front. Turn in hard into a tight European corner as you climb a mountain – something we did a lot in France – and the C43 is buttoned down, with very little understeer. 

2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC | Photo: Mercedes-Benz 

If anything, it tucks in more as you apply throttle thanks to that all-wheel steering system. As a matter of fact, it does what no torque vectoring system can by allowing the car to rotate thanks to rear wheels that are…actually turning. 

Drawback of the transmission

The nine-speed gearbox is lightning quick when pushing the car hard to its limits, handing over the next gear like there’s no tomorrow. And yes, while the exhaust note is toned down compared to before, this AMG still likes to fart when going from one gear to the next. That’s always fun.

A few drawbacks, however: that transmission, while great during spirited driving, is plain awful around town in Comfort mode. It’s like it never knows what it wants, hesitating and at times simply not downshifting when commanded to do so. We were also disappointed by the diesel-like note of this engine when running on idle. 

Verdict: Is the 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 as great as the old one?

While it’s true that this AMG C43 is a tad behind its predecessor in a drag race, there’s no denying the gains that will be made at the pump with this new engine. We recorded a 9.8L/100 km average during our drive in France and we weren’t exactly gentle with the throttle pedal. 

At times, during casual highway cruising, we recorded an impressive 6.4L/100 km. Considering all the performance you’re getting, that’s fantastic.

The 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 is still respectfully quick off the line, way more agile in the corners than before, loaded with state-of-the-art technology and frugal at the pump. What’s not to like? 

We’ll go as far as saying that this could be the most accomplished Mercedes sport sedan to date. We can’t wait for the even more intense, 670-horsepower AMG C63 that’s coming soon.

If you’re shopping for a sedan, take a look at our current inventory of used, certified 4-door cars here.

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