by Gerhard Horn
Another year passes without Mercedes-AMG making any significant changes to the C43 AMG Coupe - not that it had to. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe still looks just as sublime now as when it was first launched in 2017. Interior components are shared with the C-Class sedan, which already sets a high standard for interior quality, while the C43 is powered by a potent twin-turbo V6, delivering 385 horsepower. The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system puts the power down effectively, allowing the C43 to sprint to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Is it the perfect car for someone who feels intimidated by the full-fat twin-turbo V8 in the C63? And is it a viable alternative to competitors like the Audi S5 Coupe and the BMW 440i xDrive?
Mercedes-AMG is making only one small change to the luxury Coupe. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which used to be an optional extra, is now fitted as standard. A large percentage of customers likely added this option to their vehicles, resulting in Mercedes adding it as a standard feature, and as a selling point.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG C43 4MATIC Coupe||
3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
Mercedes' current design philosophy is as elegant as it is striking when it comes to the exterior. The 2-door body style features front LED daytime running lights that are the starting point of a concave line stretching all the way to the rear lights. The slim taillights, integrated trunk spoiler, and quad exhausts round off the rear nicely. The standard 18-inch AMG wheels work perfectly with the sloping roofline and the muscular hips. And, the C43's Panorama roof is aesthetically pleasing and functional, too.
The C43 is considered compact, but its dimensions aren't. It has a total length of 184.8 inches, which is just 2.3 inches shy of the C63. They share the same 111.8-inch wheelbase, however, with the C63's more aggressive bumpers accounting for the additional two inches in body length. The C43 is 71.3 inches wide excluding its mirrors, but its relatively low height of 55.3 inches creates the illusion that its hips are wider. Even though there's less car, the coupe weighs 154 pounds more than the sedan. It weighs 3,979 pounds.
The C43 fills the gap created between the standard C-Class models and the absolutely diabolical C63 AMG in the USA. The performance gap was so big that AMG could fit an entire car in there, which is why the C43 exists. Even though it's an AMG-lite, you still get a bi-turbo 3.0-liter V6 developing 385 horsepower and 394 lb-ft of torque. The power is sent to all four wheels via AMG's nine-speed Speedshift transmission. This setup allows it to complete the 0-60 mph sprint in 4.5 seconds. The gearbox does its job quickly and accurately, resulting in a car that never feels out of place. Whether accelerating from a dead stop or merging with the highway, the C43 has more than enough power.
The C43 sits in the middle between the normal C-Class coupes, and the dastardly C63 AMG. As such, it includes handling and driving characteristics found in both. It's not as firm as the full-fat C63, but neither is it as soft as the standard coupe. It's firm enough that you feel those backroad bumps, but the all-wheel-drive is always on hand to give the C43 that planted feel. The coupe is also equipped with a more tactile rear suspension setup, providing more feedback than the sedate sedan.
The brakes are highly effective, but they can be difficult to modulate at times. Weight is the C43's biggest enemy, but the sharp, responsive steering, torque, and all-wheel-drive system help hide some of the fat. Overall, the C43 is a pleasant thing to drive, and much easier to drive enthusiastically than its more powerful sibling.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG C43 coupe has an EPA-estimated figure of 19/27/22 mpg for city/highway/combined. It's not bad, but not class-leading either. The Audi S5, which also uses a bi-turbo V6 engine and all-wheel-drive, has EPA-estimates of 20/28/23 mpg. Oddly, it's only marginally more efficient than the C63's 17/26/20 mpg. It does make some difference when you look at the mileage you get from the 17.4-gallon fuel tank. The C43 gets 380 miles from a tank, which is 30 more than the V8 can manage.
Being a coupe, the C43 is all about the front passengers. Space up front is quite generous, with legroom measuring in at 42 inches and headroom at 38.8 inches. The doors are large, which makes it easy to get into the beautiful leather-clad seats with 14-way power adjustment. These seats are perfectly suited to the car. They offer enough bolstering to keep you in place while cornering furiously, but they're not overly firm. It means they're just as good on a longer trip. In case you were wondering, the rear legroom and headroom are severely compromised thanks to the sloping roofline. The rear legroom is not the best at 32 inches, while the headroom is a mere 35.6 inches.
With such a beautiful sloping roofline, you wouldn't expect decent cargo capacity. In this case, the coupe only loses 2.1 cubic feet to its sedan stablemate. The C43 Coupe still has 10.5 cubic feet of space, not massive, but large enough for daily shopping items or a big suitcase and some smaller bags. The rear seats do still fold down in a 40/20/40 split, offering more cargo capacity. Interior-wise, you get two cupholders for front passengers, as well as a large storage space in the center console.
As a plush, luxury coupe, the Mercedes-AMG C43 comes as standard with a Nappa-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and MB-Tex/Dinamica leather-clad and heated sports seats. These seats also come as standard with 14-way power adjustment. Other standard specs include dual-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, and 64 colors for the ambient lighting system. Standard driver assistance systems include adaptive cruise control, active brake assist, attention assist, and blind-spot monitoring, while semi-autonomous parking, adaptive high-beam assist, lane-keep assist, and an AMG head-up display can be optioned on.
The Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe's infotainment works fine but is not as advanced as the better MBUX system as found in its newer models. The 10.25-inch screen in the center console does not have touchscreen functionality. Instead, you operate it via buttons and touchpads on the steering wheel and a dial between the seats. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, as is SiriusXM. It's connected to a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system. New for 2021 is the standard fitment of a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which does make it easier to navigate some of the features. Optional extras include navigation, Wi-Fi, and AMG Track Pace, which lets you record lap times.
The 2021 C43 had not been recalled in the US, yet. 2019 was a bad year for the sports Coupe. A total of nine recalls were issued, the most severe of which was the possible malfunction of the brake assist. Minor issues included things like the car not recognizing when safety belts were secured, and the parking brake not disengaging. In 2020, it was recalled twice. The first was for inaccurate vehicle location for emergency services, while the second was for the front seatbelts not fully retracting.
J.D. Power's review resulted in a score of 80 out of a possible 100 marks. This is the same as its 2020 score. Mercedes includes a four-year/50,000-mile warranty.
Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS has conducted a review of the AMG C43 Coupe. This is common for coupes based on existing platforms like the C-Class sedan, which has been tested by both institutions. The NHTSA gave the sedan a five-star rating. The IIHS gave the 2020 C-Class sedan a Top Safety Pick +, which is the highest award possible from the institution. So, the C43 Coupe has decent bones and should hold up well in a collision.
The only drawbacks to the C43 Coupe are things normally associated with the two-door coupe body style, like a lack of proper trunk volume and terrible space constraints for rear passengers. You'll also feel intimidated every time you see a full-fat C63 AMG. But the C43 doesn't need to feel ashamed, however, as it is a very good car in its own right. Yes, it's not as brisk, nor does it emit that angry noise, but for most people, it's more than enough car. In a world where cars can do 0-60 mph in less than three seconds, we tend to forget that anything below five seconds is also fast.
The new AMG C43 Coupe comes with an MSRP of $59,000. That's $500 more than BMW charges for the brand-new M440i xDrive Coupe, which has 382 horses on tap. The BMW is even faster to 60 mph (4.3 seconds) and is dynamically superior. Still, the new 4's face is the source of much contention, while the C43 Coupe is almost universally praised for its good looks. Since looks matter in this segment and the C43 remains fast by modern standards, we reckon it's still a good car.
There's only one model in the range and it goes on sale for $59,000, excluding tax, licensing registration, and the $1,050 destination charge. Although it's already handsomely equipped, keep in mind that there's still an extensive options list. You could easily get the price of a 2021 AMG C43 Coupe up to $80,000 by adding extras, which is around $10,000 more than the base MSRP of the mighty C63 Coupe.
Since there's only one model to choose from, it has to be that. We can guide you through the options list, however. The C43 is already lavishly equipped, but there are still some nice extras that can enhance the ownership experience. If it were up to us, we'd add Brilliant Blue metallic paint for $720, as well as a set of 19-inch multispoke matte black wheels. The latter is a no-cost option, but you have to include the AMG Performance Studio Package, which costs $3,600. At least you also get the AMG Night Package and AMG Optics Package included as well. Interior-wise, we'd add Cranberry Red leather ($1,620), the Multimedia Package ($1,250), Driver Assistance Package ($1,700), and wireless charging for $200. What's an AMG without an AMG Performance Exhaust, so add another $1,250 for that. The grand total is $69,670. See how easy it is to go overboard on options?
As you now know, it's not that difficult to spec a C43 up to within spitting distance of C63 pricing. That's not good for the C43, because its bigger brother is equipped with a bi-turbo V8 that packs a 503-hp punch. Not to mention the sublime soundtrack that accompanies the forward momentum every time you step on the throttle. Oddly, the C63 is only a half-second quicker to 60 mph, but that's likely due to the additional grip afforded by the C43's all-wheel-drive system. The C63 is rear-drive only, but both cars are equipped with the same nine-speed automatic. Given that the C43 is nearly as quick off the line, and almost certainly quicker in the everyday situations you'll be driving in. Is the C63 worth the extra $12,000? The answer is no, but then you take the C63 for a test drive and you experience that burbling V8, and the answer changes to hell yes.
The 2021 S5 Coupe has an MSRP of $52,500, representing a huge saving over the price of the C43. While it is a beautiful machine, it's not as charismatic as its bigger brother, the RS5, which is much more akin to being a sports car. The RS5 uses a 2.9-liter Porsche-derived motor, and it howls and snarls like a proper performance engine should. The standard S5 uses an older 3.0-liter V6 with a twin-scroll turbocharger, developing 349 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. It's a split-second faster to 60 mph than the C43 and it's more fuel-efficient. The interiors are quite close in terms of quality, but the Audi has a more modern interior. Neither car is as dynamically refined as a BMW 4 Series.
It basically boils down to the styling, which counts for a lot in this segment. The Audi is good looking, but the C43 Coupe isn't half bad either. It's a close call, but we prefer the look of the Audi.
The most popular competitors of 2021 Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe: