by Deiondre van der Merwe
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe didn't partake in any of that "new year, new me" nonsense and stayed true to its 2019 version. Svelte and confident, the compact luxury coupe is the smaller sibling of the C63 and shares C-Class DNA with the less-powerful sedan family, in terms of comfort and infotainment features. Its power and agile handling capabilities are beautifully housed by a sloped body that's classically Mercedes by design, and the potent bi-turbo V6 found beneath the hood performs like an AMG should, delivering 385 horsepower to all corners for a 0-60 mph sprint of just 4.5 seconds. With rivals including its scarier sibling, the C63 AMG and the more frugal Audi S4, will the C43 emerge as the victor?
The C43 AMG hasn't seen a vast amount of changes in comparison to the 2019 model - which works for us, given how much we liked the model from yesteryear. Nevertheless, the C43 couldn't welcome a new year without some minor additions. The coupe now includes some extra standard features, including a 64-color ambient lighting system, AMG-branded door sills and - for the audiophiles - a 13-speaker Burmester sound system as standard. The customizable AMG Drive Unit drive-mode selector found on the AMG GT is also now available as an option for the C43. Additional safety and convenience features have also been added with standard blind spot assist, keyless entry, and an electronic trunk lid with hands-free access.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG C43 4MATIC Coupe||
3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
As usual, the coupe provides a surfeit of style and elegance as far as exterior appearances go. The front end bears the classical twin-blade grille flanked by LED daytime running lights and headlamps, and moving around to the back will see a pair of slim LED taillights, a subtle-but-attractive rear spoiler, and four round tailpipes that are nicely housed in a sporty diffuser. The sloped design is further complemented by 18-inch AMG wheels.
Though not extremely large, the C43 Coupe comes in with a few not-so-compact measurements as far as dimensions are concerned. At a length of 184.8 inches, the C43 is just 2.7 inches shorter than its larger, more powerful sibling, the C63, but shares the same wheelbase of 111.8 inches. The coupe measures 71.3 inches at the hips with the impression of width amplified by a low-slung height measurement of 55.3 inches. The coupe is heavier than its sedan counterpart by over 150 pounds, with a hefty curb weight of 3,979 lbs.
Good things come in pairs and this is especially true for the twin-turbo AMG-enhanced 3.0-liter V6 motor that delivers 385 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque to the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system through a nine-speed automatic AMG Speedshift transmission. The butter-smooth transmission rifles through gears without any second thoughts, upshifting and downshifting with alacrity. Mated to the potent V6 motor and AWD, the C43 manages a 4.5-second run from zero to 60 mph. Overtaking and merging onto the highway is an effortless task for the AMG, and the coupe will provide a meticulously-tuned growl when doing so. Its slightly more frightening sibling, the C63 AMG, provides a considerable 84 hp more power, but will only get to 60 mph half a second faster.
Considering the shared DNA between the AMG and run-of-the-mill C-Class Coupes, the C43 is reassuring and smooth - but AMG adjustments to the suspension for performance purposes give it a slightly harder ride than its comfort-focused siblings. Though easily unsettled by typical bumps and bruises on back roads, the AMG-focused suspension provides largely impressive handling abilities and grip, thanks to the AWD system. The coupe-specific rear suspension also adds a sense of stability lacking in the sedan.
The coupe delivers on sharp and responsive steering, but the brakes are stiff and difficult to modulate at times, even if they are highly effective. It's not all rainbows for the C43, however, with its portly weight in comparison to rivals becoming rather noticeable when going the distance and pursuing twisting roads; but the V6 does relatively well at lugging the beefy body around without too much exertion, and the suspension hides much of the chunkiness. Overall, the C43 is a more than pleasurable driving experience and is certainly capable of being strung through the bends.
With great power comes even greater fuel bills and the C43 AMG is proof of that. The fuel economy isn't absolutely horrible, but it's less efficient than the rival Audi S5. With EPA estimates of 19/27/22 mpg city/highway/combined, the Merc is on the thirstier side and you'll get one mile per gallon less on average than the Audi's 23 mpg combined figure. The C43 does have the upper hand on the C63, however, and with both of the AMGs sharing a 17.4-gallon fuel tank capacity, you'll get just over 380 miles on a full tank in the C43 - 30 miles more than in its V8-powered brother.
The driver-focused C43 boasts a good amount of space for a performance coupe, and once you enter the cabin via the large doors - which can be tedious in tight parking spaces - front-seat residents can enjoy 14-way power-adjustable sport seats with memory, which are designed specifically for support and comfort at high speeds through corners. If comfort and support aren't enough, the seats are heated and contoured perfectly for both driver and passenger. The front of the coupe provides plenty of legroom and headroom as well. A lack of space only becomes noticeable in the two-door when you climb into the rear seats. A six-footer has no hope of fitting into the back of the coupe, and a regular-sized adult shouldn't be too optimistic either, with 10 inches less legroom and 3.2 inches less headroom than in the front, thanks to the sloped roofline.
Easily accessible via a now-standard power trunk lid with hands-free functionality, the trunk of the luxury coupe is unremarkable, though this is expected as it isn't supposed to be focused on easily hauling an excess of luggage or other large items. Though it loses 2.1 cubic feet of trunk space in comparison to the C43 sedan, the C43's 10.5-cubic foot trunk does well at carrying general items and fitting daily goodies such as gym bags and the like. It's even sizeable enough to accommodate a large suitcase with a few smaller bags on either side. If you're in a squeeze, the rear seats are able to fold down in a 40/20/40 split to allow for more space, while inside the cabin, dual cupholders up front, one in the rear center armrest, and a large storage bin under the center console, are just some of the ample storage options available.
A vast number of standard features are offered in the AMG, which is business as usual for Mercedes-Benz. The C43 can come to life remotely or via push-button start, and a Nappa leather multifunction steering wheel graces the coupe, along with MB-Tex/Dinamica leather-clad heated sport seats that are 14-way power-adjustable. Dual-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof and 64-color ambient lighting do wonders for the inside atmosphere of the C43, and for convenience, buttons on the underside of the rearview mirror can be programmed to open garage doors when you arrive home. Driver-assist tech makes an appearance in the form of adaptive cruise control, active brake assist, blind-spot monitoring, and attention assist. Additional driver-assist features available include a head-up display, adaptive high beam assist, lane-keep assist, and semi-autonomous parking.
Mercedes took a digitally-focused approach to the cabin of the C43 and yet again, there are a great number of standard infotainment features to be found in the coupe. A 10.25-inch screen is standard and is operable via the central controller with the option of adding a touchpad to the mix. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come stock equipped as well as Bluetooth and SiriusXM functionality; your favorite songs are pushed through a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound system that integrates into Merc's FrontBass system for added clarity and depth. Optional infotainment features include a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a navigation system, TuneIn Radio, and the AMG Track Pace feature that allows for performance recording and lap time data. In-car Wi-Fi is another available feature, along with wireless device charging.
The 2020 C43 AMG coupe has not been the victim of any recalls as yet, however, the 2019 model suffered five recalls for issues ranging in severity. The most concerning recall affected upwards of 1,900 vehicles that included the C43 Coupe for the possibility of the brake assist not engaging properly. Less severe issues include the car not acknowledging when seatbelts were fastened, and the parking brake not disengaging without turning off stability control. However, J.D. Power gave the 2020 C43 a score of 82 out of 100 for quality and reliability, and to ease the minds of potential buyers, Mercedes offers a standard warranty of four years/50,000 miles and 24-hour roadside assistance.
Neither the IIHS nor the NHTSA has evaluated or performed any crash tests on the C43, which is common for luxury performance cars. The IIHS did, however, evaluate the C-Class sedan that shares some similarities with the C43, at least in terms of mechanics, and awarded it as 2019 Top Safety Pick +. Many of the same features present in the sedan are found in the coupe. Added to the list of reassurances, the coupe comes equipped with eight airbags including dual front, front side, side curtain, and two knee airbags for both the driver and front passenger. The Merc's safety is further bumped up by a range of driver assists including standard attention assist and blind-spot monitoring, while the optional assists include adaptive cruise control, car-to-X communication, lane keeping assist, and a surround-view camera.
The AMG C43 Coupe is impressive in many categories, including a stunning design, great performance, and an abundance of standard interior features. The only categories that the coupe doesn't score perfectly in are tasks that it wasn't made to excel in, like lugging a large amount of cargo or providing plush, pillow-like ride comfort. Nevertheless, the C43 shines in the coupe segment with more-than-modest power outputs and supreme handling capabilities with performance in mind. It's so much more than a pretty car to look at, and an abundance of features are present in the sports coupe, making a great value-for-money case for it, though it doesn't come cheap and is considerably more expensive than the likes of the 440i's MSRP of $51,350. However, it's worth noting that the Mercedes offers a premium, unmatched interior for the segment, and might just be worth the extra few thousand dollars. If you're looking for a mid-level performance coupe with all of the bells and whistles, the Mercedes-AMG C43 should be near the top of your shortlist.
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C43 isn't for the frugal shopper and has a starting MSRP of $58,500 excluding tax, licensing, registration, and a $995 destination charge. Adding all available packages to result in a fully loaded model sees a very pricey end figure that surpasses $80,000 with surprising ease.
With only one trim available, Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe can only be differentiated through the options list. But, with an already comprehensive suite of features including heated power-adjustable sports seats, dual-zone climate control, a power sunroof, LED headlights, and a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with 13 speakers and full smartphone integration, there's not much we'd add.
Our ideal spec includes the Mojave Silver metallic paint at $720 and the 19-inch five-spoke wheels for $850 to finish off the exterior nicely. Inside, add the red seat belts at no additional cost as well as the Black Ash and Aluminum trim (also a standard feature, so no extra charge here either) and the AMG Performance front seats for extra support at $2,500. As far as infotainment goes, the head-up display is a must and the digital instrument cluster ties in well with the added tech for a combined additional charge of $1,850. Finish the add-ons off with the $1,700 Driver Assistance Package and the Multimedia Package, and you have the perfect model without breaking the bank too much on additional extras. As a final touch, we'd also spec the AMG Performance exhaust, taking the total bill to $67,770.
As the C43's bigger brother, the C63 AMG employs a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 motor that delivers 84 hp more than the C43's 385 hp in base form, yet the bigger Merc will only get from zero to 60 a half a second slower than the C43 - blame the rear-wheel drivetrain for that. Both share the same nine-speed automatic transmission, but the C63's rear-wheel drive is more likely to step out on you than the C43's 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, making for a more hooliganistic approach to driving. The two AMGs also share many similarities in the ways of standard comfort and infotainment features and, aside from engine, drivetrain, the C63's slightly thirstier approach to fuel efficiency, and a steeper price, there isn't much of a difference between the two coupes. The question to ask, though, is whether the C63 is worth the extra $11,400 price increase. Is it? We don't think so, especially in the real world. Considering you're only getting marginally more power from the bigger sibling, the C43 is the better buy in terms of value for money. Of course, when the V8 rumble hits your eardrums, the emotional decision to buy a C63 is entirely warranted.
With the AWD Audi coming in at a substantially lower MSRP of $51,900 and producing only 36 hp less than the C43, it's looking quite grim for the more expensive C43 AMG. Both offer AWD drivetrains and employ 3.0-liter V6s, though the C43 has an extra turbo to brag about. The Audi has the upper hand in terms of fuel efficiency, and you're likely to get a few extra miles per gallon in the four-ringed coupe. As far as interiors go, the Merc is almost bulletproof and is a segment leader, but the Audi feels more futuristic and techy, while matching the C43 for material feel. Luxury is at the forefront of both of these vehicles, and it's a close one, as both lack the precision driving dynamics of the other German coupe offering from BMW. The Mercedes offers more luxury and a better driving experience than the Audi, and is the better buy if you have the budget - but if you're after a fuel-savvy performance coupe loaded with tech, the Audi is for you.
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