by Roger Biermann
The C-Class is Mercedes-AMG's most successful series of vehicles from the entire Mercedes range, with the iconic C63 having pioneered performance for AMG since before it became a wholly-owned Daimler subsidiary. But the C43 isn't a real AMG, not according to the fanboys and keyboard warriors who'll gladly tell you that there's no one-man, one-engine philosophy for the V6-powered, all-wheel-drive equipped AMG C-Class. However with two turbochargers strapped to the 3.0-liter V6, and outputs of 385 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque, the fiery sports sedan may prove doubters wrong yet. Rivaling the Audi S4, the AMG C43 Sedan sprints from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. But the C43 isn't just about performance, it's also about class. It is appointed with an impressive range of standard features and its distinguished interior is complemented by contemporary tech and design. Can a classy, all-wheel-drive Mercedes really cut the mustard as a bona fide AMG?
For the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan, larger turbochargers have been installed to increase engine output by 23 horsepower to 385 hp, the front and rear fascias have received a moderate redesign, and the LED headlights and taillights have been restyled and are now fitted as standard. It's been fitted with new aerodynamically enhanced 18-inch AMG wheels while gaining new driver-assist safety features, AMG driving modes, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. A new steering wheel design has also been also applied.
The AMG C43 Sedan is fitted with 18-inch twin five-spoke alloy wheels, newly sculpted for 2019, along with a new sculpted front apron with horizontal strakes for each air vent underscoring the fitted multi-element LED headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, and AMG's signature twin louver grille finished in matte iridium silver. LED taillamps and dual round tailpipes finished in high-gloss chrome set off the parting view. AMG badges are standard fare, as are 'turbocharged' badges on the front fenders.
The Mercedes-AMG C43 is a small luxury sedan, it spans a length of 185 inches in total, sits square on the road with a width of 56.3 inches, and stands at a height of 56.3 inches. There are 111.8 inches between the axles and ground clearance of just 3.5 inches with the AMG's lowered suspension. The C43 presents with a curb weight of 3,825 lbs, making it one of the heavier-weight contenders in the lukewarm performance division.
The AMG C43 receives a color palette of 11 standard exterior paint options including Black and Polar White which are price inclusive, while Obsidian Black, Iridium Silver, Mojave Silver, Lunar Blue, Brilliant Blue, Emerald Green, and Selenite Gray metallic are all an additional $720. Equipping the designo Diamond White metallic is an additional $1,515 and designo Cardinal Red metallic an additional $1,080. The Designo Cardinal Red is the most striking option, it augments the sporty side of the AMG C43's character and complements the chrome exterior accent.
The Mercedes-AMG C43 is seen as the junior AMG model of the C-Class line-up, slotting below the C63 and offering mild performance by comparison. That doesn't mean the C43 is a slouch, though, as for 2019 the V6's two turbochargers have been increased in size to glean an additional 23 hp for the 3.0-liter displacement, with final outputs resting at 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the rear-wheel-drive C63, the C43 channels power to all four corners via Mercedes' rear-biased 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system through a nine-speed automatic transmission. With additional grip, off the line, the C43 surges to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds before plowing on to an electronically limited 130 mph top speed. With the Audi S4 being the original all-wheel-drive sports sedan, Mercedes-AMG and BMW are following suit, while the Jaguar XE S still offers rear-wheel-drive thrills for those in need. Of course, the more potent C63 AMG also offers these same thrills, along with more vicious acceleration should the C43 feel underpowered.
The 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbocharged engine in the AMG C43 has received larger turbochargers as part of the 2019 update, which has upped the engines outputs to 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic gearbox handles things between the engine and the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, giving the driver some control by means of standard steering-mounted paddle-shifters. The C43's performance may not live up to the standards set by the C63, but it's rapid off the mark, and the twin-turbo V6 has a relentless surge of torque, ably aided by the all-wheel grip. The nine-speed gearbox may seem like overkill, but it slips through the gears quickly and effectively and strikes a fine balance between performance and efficiency, while sportier driving modes see shifts made even quicker and more aggressively.
The AMG Ride Control Sport Suspension with three-stage adaptive suspension damping is performance-tuned, befitting a model endowed with an AMG badge. As such, the ride is firm, perhaps a little too firm, but remains stable when pursuing a series of high-speed twists and turns. Things can be slackened off, however, resulting in a decent balance between luxury and sport.
Handling wise, AMG models have never been renowned for their precision, but the C43 is a different breed relying less on the sledgehammer and more on the scalpel to get the most out of every road. There's a deftness to it and a lightness on its feet, aided by the rear-biased 4MATIC system and the reduced weight of a V6 over the front axle instead of a burly V8. Turn-in is sharp, and body-roll kept to a minimum, while on-the-go responses are equally as sharp. However, the steering isn't tremendously feelsome, although the demi-AMG leaves BMW for dead in this regard.
The Mercedes-AMG C43 isn't the sharpest handler in its segment, and the Jaguar XE S still caters to higher levels of driver enjoyment, but the Merc feels more enthralling than any Audi offering at this level, and until such time as we see the new M340i xDrive on the road, BMW doesn't have anything to rival the AMG C43 in the dynamics stakes.
Gas mileage figures from the AMG C43 are unimpressive, to say the least, receiving EPA estimates of 19/27/22 mpg with city/highway/combined driving cycles respectively. It is fitted with a 17.4-gallon gas tank with which premium unleaded gas is recommended for use for optimal performance. With a full tank of gas and with mixed driving conditions the AMG C43 can achieve a maximum range of 383 miles. The C63 is naturally less efficient with EPA estimates of 18/27/21 mpg respectively, while a close rival, the Audi S4, received EPA estimates of 21/30/24 mpg respectively.
The interior of the AMG C43 is an A-grade piece of work, the build quality is exceptional with sturdy overall construction, while finishes have been set firmly with impeccable attention to detail. Materials throughout the cabin are high quality and key touch-points are luxuriously padded with soft-touch constituents. General ergonomics are suitable throughout the cabin, particularly from the driver's perch where a newly sculpted steering wheel is incredible to take hold of, and the AMG sports seats hold you snugly in place. Overall, spaciousness is ample for most, however, legroom in the rear of the cabin can be a little limited with a taller driver in the front. The seats are otherwise comfortable and spacious enough to occupy for long durations and the front seats supportive enough for spirited driving.
The AMG C43 Sedan accommodates a total of five occupants. All the front and rear seats are luxuriously comfortable and ample lateral support and bolstering is provided by the deeply contoured sport front seats for assured spirited driving. Head and legroom throughout the cabin are adequate, but legroom in the rear can be markedly reduced with tall front occupants. The AMG C43 is easy to live with on a daily basis, ingress and egress are effortless by virtue of the large door openings and suitably low-set seats. The driver and side passengers seats are 14-way power adjustable with power lumbar support and feature intuitive seat-shaped controls and seat memory which make finding an optimal driving/seating position with good allover visibility a breeze.
The AMG C43 can be upholstered at no additional charge with black MB-Tex/Dinamica with red stitching dichotomized with either natural grain gray oak wood trim, dark brown linden wood trim, natural grain walnut wood trim, or natural grain black ash wood with aluminum trim inserts, giving buyers a range of options ranging from sporty to luxurious. For $1,620 the interior can be upholstered with either black leather with red stitching, strict black leather, saddle brown leather, or cranberry red leather. Those looking for something sportier can spend $975 to match the upholstery with either AMG silver fiberglass or AMG carbon fiber trim inserts, while the seatbelts can be specified in either black or red also at no additional charge. The C43 also features a new AMG Nappa leather performance steering wheel.
Trunk and cargo space in the AMG C43 is slightly below average for the class, with a capacity of 12.6 cubic feet. Despite rivals offering more, this is enough room for a set of golf clubs, two school bags, laptop case, and a gym duffel bag, catering to all the family needs at once. The rear seats are 40/20/40 split-folding, the center seat backrest can also be folded down independently to fit in longer items from the trunk between the two rear outboard seats. The release handles are conveniently located in the trunk which also features an electronic close function and opening height adjuster.
Interior storage solutions comprise appreciably wide door pockets with bottle holders on all the doors, two concealed cupholders ahead of the sizable center console and a suitably sized glovebox. The rear center seat backrest also folds down to reveal a small storage console and two cupholders.
Key standard features in the AMG C43 include a SmartKey with keyless-start, power tilt-and-telescoping three-spoke sport-steering wheel with touch control buttons, analog gauges with high-resolution multifunction display, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a power tilt and slide glass sunroof. Both front seats are sport contoured and stitched and are 14-way power adjustable including lumbar support, while the driver's seat features memory system settings. The rear seats are 40/20/40 split-folding and the center seat backrest features a trunk pass-through. A Dynamic Drive Mode select includes four modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+) and an AMG Dynamic Mode Select includes five modes (Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual). A range of assistance features are also equipped including blind spot monitoring as standard, while optionally available are lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, a surround-view camera, and active park assist. Buyers can also specify an optional AMG head-up driver display.
The infotainment system in the AMG C43 comprises of a 10.25-inch high-resolution center display accessible via the console controller or touch-sensitive steering wheel controls. The screen is paired with a 13-speaker high-quality Burmester Surround Sound System with a 590-watt amplifier and Front Bass system. The setup allows for Bluetooth audio streaming and is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. It includes an HD Radio receiver and SiriusXM Radio with a six-month all access trial. A 12-volt outlet is located in the front center cupholder console and two USB ports with plug-and-play capability, device charging and connectivity are situated within the front center armrest console. Navigation is an optional extra, as is in-car Wi-Fi.
To date, the 2019 AMG C43 has been subject to one recall so far for 2019, with the ESP system not disengaging the handbrake on some models after the car has been parked. Several major recalls have plagued previous year models, but with fresh updates for 2019 these should be solved. J.D. Power allocated the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class with a predicted reliability rating of three out of five stars, which is about average for the class. Mercedes covers the AMG C43 with a standard four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty, with the option to purchase extensions up to 100,000-miles.
The NHTSA is yet to crash test the 2019 year model of the AMG C43 but considering no changes to the NHTSA testing methodology and the AMG C43's high level of safety and advanced driver assist features we expect that the 2018 year models overall five-star rating will be carried over for the 2019 model. The IIHS awarded the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class with the title of 2019 Top Safety Pick+.
The C43 is loaded with an appreciable selection of safety features and advanced driver assistive technologies as standard, including an ESP, Dynamic Cornering Assist system, Active Brake Assist, and eight airbags, including dual front airbags, side curtain airbags, front side airbags, and knee airbags for both front occupants. Available safety features include adaptive cruise control, adaptive high beam assist, evasive steering assist, lane keeping assist, lane change assist, and a surround view monitor with active parking assist.
Relative to core class rivals, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan is a more than adequate mid-size luxury vehicle. It will cost prospective buyers slightly more while offering comparable performance. Where the AMG C43 Sedan shines is in its highly immaculate cabin design and high-quality appointments along with its ability to pair luxury with performance in any circumstance due to the fitment of all-wheel -drive. However, the ride is harsher than it should be for a mid-level performance sedan, and there isn't enough involvement to justify the harshness.
The technology featured in the AMG C43 is decent, but no touchscreen and a complicated interface and distracting optional touchpad controller make it less user-friendly and intuitive to that of the more modern MBUX infotainment system found in the latest offerings from the German manufacturer. The verdict is that the AMG C43 is a great car, but core rivals simply offer better performance at a lower price, and the V6 doesn't give AMG-lovers a thundering soundtrack to distract them from the C43's shortcomings.
The 2019 Mercedes-AMG C43 Sedan carries a starting MSRP of $55,250 excluding Mercedes' transportation and handling charges of $995, taxes, registration, licensing and optional extras, which can quickly drive the price up by ten or twenty thousand dollars. Individual dealers may offer dealer-specific incentives and eccentric pricing structures.
The Mercedes-AMG C43 is reviewed here as a standalone trim, above the regular C-Class offering but not quite at the same league as the barn-storming C63. It features a front-mounted V6 engine measuring 3.0-liters in displacement and fitted with two turbochargers to deliver outputs of 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic gearbox and Mercedes' 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system.
By default, it is also equipped with an AMG Sport exhaust system, AMG limited-slip differential, AMG Ride Control Sport Suspension with three-stage adaptive suspension damping, and 18-inch aluminum wheels. It features performance-oriented elements such as a newly designed three-spoke sports steering wheel, sport front seats with enhanced bolsters, analog gauges with high-resolution multifunction display, and an AMG Dynamic Mode Select. Other standard features include power adjustable seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a 10.25-inch infotainment center with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality.
|AMG C43 4MATIC Sedan||
3.0-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
Optional packages available for the AMG C43 include a $900 Exterior Lighting Package which fits the AMG C43 with an Intelligent Light System with Ultra Wide Beam headlamps and Adaptive Highbeam Assist.
The Multimedia Package upgrades the infotainment system with COMAND navigation, a touchpad controller, enhanced voice control, and car-to-X communication for $2,300 and includes online navigation map updates and Live Traffic service by TomTom both complimentary for three years.
The $1,090 Parking Assist Package equips the AMG C43 with active parking assist, a surround view system, and rear cross-traffic alert. The Driver Assistance Package costs $1,800 and adds features including active distance assist distronic, active steering assist, evasive steering assist, and active emergency stop assist to the C43.
Aesthetically, the AMG Night Package costs $300 and adds a more expressive front splitter, the standard-fit spoiler lip, broader side skirt inserts and flicks in the rear bumper are finished in high-gloss black and the tailpipes are finished in black chrome.
The AMG C43 is the standalone mid-range performance model from the C-Class line-up and represents the entry point of the AMG-badged C-Class. For those that want more than a base C, but don't need a full-fat C63, the C43 is ideal. However, in order to get the most of the C43's binary performance/luxury character, we suggest adding the optional Multimedia Package for the advanced tech controls and added capabilities, and the Driver Assistance Package for the substantial addition of favorable advanced driver assist features. The total cost of the AMG C43 with the addition of the stated optional packages should come to around $59,350.
At $11,750 more than the AMG C43 Sedan, the AMG C63 Sedan offers the same level of luxury and convenience features, but substantially more performance and handling capability as a full-fat AMG variant. This AMG model is armed with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that blasts out 469 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels alone. With this setup, the C63 reaches the 60 mph mark quicker than the C43 by around 0.6 seconds, breaching into the three-second territory. In the real world, the additional power is hardly usable, however, the thrill of the V8 is noticeably absent in the C43, not just because of the more subdued soundtrack but because it lacks the dramatic thump in the kidneys if you pull away from a traffic light viciously. While the C43 is a performance bargain, usable in real-world conditions with all-wheel-drive, the C63 is more emotive, and for those who actively pursue track day thrills, is the better choice, despite the additional cost.
The 2019 Audi S4 carries a starting MSRP of around $5,000 less than the C43, and at that price point offers marginally better performance as far as outright numbers are concerned. Equipped with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 producing lower outputs of 349 hp and 369 lb-ft, the S4 still manages to reach the 60 mph mark marginally quicker than the AMG C43, showing Audi know how to get the most out of an all-wheel-drive system. Along with these performance advantages, the S4 also manages to not comprise on luxury and standard vehicle features. The technologies in the S4 are far more intuitive than the C43's and are just as capable. As standard, it features tri-zone automatic climate control and front seats with heating and massage function. The trunk capacity in the S4 is slightly larger at 13 cubic feet, but legroom in the rear seats are similarly as limited as in the AMG C43. Overall, the Audi S4 seems to offer greater value for money and superior performance at that, which is why the S4 takes the objective win.