The all-new Mercedes-AMG C43 is dialled down but still stirs the soul
The times are changing, and they are changing fast—a deadline looming for European automakers, which will see the complete rejection of the internal combustion engine. There is further demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles. We have witnessed a few more hybrid and fully electric cars enter South Africa over the years, but the most significant change has been the downsizing of engines. Mercedes-AMG is not exempt; the first arrived on my driveway recently, the all-new Mercedes-AMG C43.
The demand for 'light' versions of performance cars has grown. BMW offers M-Sport vehicles that sit just below their full-blown M cars. Audi has their 'S' badge cars, and Mercedes has double-digit vehicles that are not 63. In this case, the C43. The previous model featured a glorious six-cylinder engine that developed around 270kW. It sounded magnificent and featured 4MATIC all-wheel drive. With the announcement of the next-generation C63 AMG and its adoption of a 2.0-litre hybrid system, it was only a matter of time before the C43 followed suit.
Many are upset that these new AMG vehicles use four-cylinder 2.0-litre motors, which is understandable. However, this is the world we live in. These manufacturers are under pressure from various regulations demanding that they downsize. Spending money on developing a new, more efficient six-cylinder motor makes no business sense when the 2.0-litre is used in the A45 AMG.
With that out, let me dive into the new Mercedes-AMG C43 and what it is like. From the onset, It looks gorgeous because it's based on the new C-Class platform. The C43 does make use of sportier bumpers and wheels. While not overly aggressive, this AMG can be noticed at times. However, the quad tailpipes at the rear allude to its performance credentials, even though they are just for show and are not connected to the exhaust system but just attached to the bumper.
The interior of the C43 is much like that of other C-Class models except for the steering wheel, which features two rotary dials for drive modes and AMG setting selection. One of the most eye-catching elements is undoubtedly the new, large infotainment screen, which is slightly angled for ease of use.
It features the 2nd-generation MBUX software, standard across the range and measures 30.2cm diagonally. The display offers clear and high-resolution graphics, and the system performs functions quickly. It features the latest in wireless smartphone connectivity. Unfortunately, the car only has USB Type C ports, but a wireless charge tray is excellent.
There is also an all-digital instrument cluster with changeable themes. Visually, the interior is on another level compared to its competitors, which has always been the way with the C-Class.
Regarding performance, The Mercedes-AMG C43 now develops 300kW and 500Nm of torque. The turbocharger is operated via the 48-volt electrical system, which feeds the belt-driven starter-generator. The system can call upon a brief additional boost of 10kW battery in certain driving situations.
Mercedes-AMG technicians and test drivers demonstrated a few car features for us; one that notably stood out was the rear axle steering, which makes it incredibly agile. It is also relatively quick, especially off the line; Mercedes-Benz claims a 0-100km/h sprint in 4.6 seconds.
Out on a quiet country road, it delivers and impresses with its outright pace and agility. It inspires confidence through the corners at pace, and the large brakes provide ample stopping power. I won't say it sounds as good as the six-cylinder, but I will admit that it sounds better than many other 2.0-litre motors. It has a subtle growl, which adds to the overall experience.
The new Mercedes-AMG C43 offers sure-footed performance, much more than its predecessor. It remains a comfortable commute, and this new generation C-Class interior is vastly superior to its rivals. While there will always be a debate on the motor, the vehicle is imposing and a joy to drive.