2024 Mercedes AMG C43

PHOENIX — As SUVs and pickup trucks garner all of the attention and the lion's share of sales, Mercedes is quick to remind us they still find value in the sedan market as verified by the new-for-last-year fifth-generation mid-sized C-Class sedan. And, with that comes a new four-door AMG model that foregoes its 385-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 in favor of more powerful 402-hp but smaller hybrid integrated electrically charged turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with power delivered to all four wheels passing through a nine-speed automatic transmission.

Mercedes tells us this new engine has been adapted from its F1 racing presence.

This new for the C-Class engine hails from its smaller sized siblings including the A-Class AMG 35 and 45, the Class 45, GLA 35 and 45 and GLB 35 and 45 SUVs. The mentioned electric turbocharger — a production car first, derives its power from a 48-volt electrical system courtesy of a motor/generator unit on the engine's accessory drive belt and generates an additional 13-hp boost via the engine's drive belt.

According to Mercedes-AMG  this new powertrain delivers a 4.6-second zero-to-60 mph time nearly identical to the outgoing C43's time yet passes through the standing quarter-mile run in an impressive 12.5 seconds at 110 mph. What we didn't like was the engine stop-start system that kills the engine even before the vehicle comes to a complete stop and then takes a long time before the engine kicks back in with an overly aggressive shunt and hesitation. It's more than an odd sensation and something we never got used to during our week of testing.

Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph with the standard 18-inch base wheel/tire set up or 165 mph when optional 19 or 20-inch wheels are selected. An adaptive suspension with AMG-specific tuning is standard. Drivers can select from a choice of drive modes from Comfort to Sport or Sport+ along with AMG's sport suspension there's standard rear axle steering between 0.9 to 2.5 degrees that delivers more agility at lower speeds including reducing the turning diameter (under 37 mph) or increased stability with high speeds.

Selecting Sport+ automatically adjusts the exhaust sound and volume. Selecting Sport does not change the exhaust sound to the more Sport+ aggressiveness however you can manually select that setup via an icon on the center-stack touchscreen.

Outside and as expected, there's unique AMG styling upgrades with serious looking lower valence intakes below the traditional AMG vertical-slat grille, the obligatory bulging hood, and quad exhausts out back. The AMG formula continues inside where occupants are rewarded to heavily bolstered yet cosseting seats; red seat belts, the signature flat bottom AMG steering wheel with more buttons and switches than most vehicles instrument panels that seemingly can control most every operational function.

There's a large portrait-oriented 11.9-inch infotainment and operations screen that we found quite intuitive to operate or chose the voice controlled "Hey Mercedes" order for responses. Vehicle instrument gauges are presented on an 12.3 inch screen mid instrument panel.

For all its capability under the hood and advanced tour de force excellent tech achievements in both operational and safety the AMG C43 is amazingly adroit and noble from behind the wheel and actually makes one feel like a much better driver than they actually might be. That's because the tech is so well tuned and accomplished it does most of the work for you - skillfully, resourcefully and ingenious. From its Runway good looks to its Trigger fish handling, the C43 both looks the part and acts the part. An excellent blend of luxury and performance.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $62,000 (est)
Price as Tested: $75,000 (est)
EPA Fuel Economy: 19/26/22 - City/Highway/Combined
Engine/Transmission: 402-hp, 2.0-Liter electrically charged turbocharged 4-cylinder delivering power through a nine-speed AMG Speedshift automatic transmission and AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
Seating: Five
Where Built: East London, South Africa

Competes With:
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
Audi RS 3
BMW M340i xDrive
Cadillac CT4V

Crash Test Safety Ratings: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick+

Powerful turbocharged four cylinder engine
Superb handling
Aggressive AMG styling outside and in

— Jim Prueter