Mercedes claimed a world first earlier this month when it introduced the four-cylinder SL 43, a two-seat luxury roadster fitted with an electric turbocharger. And now the same technology has been rolled out to the new 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic sedan and wagon, though in a shock twist, the C-class makes a significantly more power than its glamorous sister.
Both cars use essentially the same M139l-code engine, a 2.0-liter inline four fitted with 48 V electrics than allows AMG’s engineers to adapt similar electric turbocharger technology that the company’s F1 team currently employs on its grand prix cars. The 48 V hardware also means both cars receive mild hybrid assistance, a combined starter generator giving a 14 hp (14 PS) boost for brief periods, plus a “sailing” function.
Related: New Entry-Level 2023 Mercedes-AMG SL43 Gets A Four-Cylinder With An Electric Turbo
But whereas the SL’s gas engine makes 376 hp (381 PS) at 6,750 rpm, the C 43 develops 402 hp (408 PS) at the same crank speed. The C43 also edges the two-seater for torque, generating 367 lb-ft (500 Nm) at 5,000 rpm, while Mercedes-AMG quotes 354 lb-ft (480 Nm) from 3,250-5,000 rpm.
4Matic All-wheel-drive is compulsory
Both cars send their power through a nine-speed automatic transmission featuring a wet clutch instead of a torque converter, but from there only the SL’s rear wheels get to handle the horsepower. As its name makes clear the C 43 4Matic is all-wheel drive, and that helps it hit 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.6 seconds, three tenths quicker than the SL 43.
It’s interesting to compare the C 43 with its SL sibling, but more relevant is how the four-seat 43 compares with its BMW M340i xDrive and Audi S4 rivals. Both those cars are fitted with turbocharged 3.0-litre sixes (inline in the BMW, see in the Audi) and all-wheel drive, like the AMG, though rear-drive M340i also available. The BMW makes 382 hp (387 PS) in North American trim (369 hp/374 PS in Europe) and sprints to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 4.4 seconds, while the US-market Audi S4 makes a less impressive 349 hp (354 PS) but reaches 60 mph in exactly the same time.
Quad pipes, sports seats and an AMG Track Pace data logger
To let other drivers know that you’re packing over 400 horses even when you’re not able to let them gallop, the C 43 features AMG’s trademark Panamericana grille, a more aggressive bumper than regular C-Class models with chrome plated trim elements, AMG sills, a “diffuser-look” (so as functional as the one on my 2004 CR-V) rear apron, and two pairs of exhaust tailpipes. Eagle-eyed bystanders will also spot the “Turbo Electrified” badge on the front fenders. Stock wheels are a measure a relatively puny 18 in across, but 19s and 20s are on the options list ready to save your street-cred blushes, if not save you money.
Moving inside you get black AMG seats covered in Merc’s Artico fake leather and microfiber, and offset by red stitching and red seats belts. They’re joined by a flat-bottom steering wheel with controllers for the AMG Dynamic Select driving modes, a dashboard covered again in Artico, and an MBUX infotainment system that gets some AMG-specific displays and functions, including the AMG Track Pace data logger that doesn’t only measure lap times, but speed, acceleration, steering angle and brake pedal actuation. Well, at least it’ll give you something to fiddle with while you’re stuck in that traffic jam on the way to work.
Four-wheel steering and adaptive dampers as standard
Escape the daily jams to find some decent roads though, and you can make use of the C 43’s chassis tricks, which include AMG-spec steel springs mated to standard-fit adaptive dampers, and an all-wheel drive system that’s heavily rear biased with at 31:69 front:rear split, but has no facility to become rear-wheel drive only like on the AMG E63. And with a variable geometry steering rack at the front, and rear-wheel steering fitted for the first time, the C43 should feel pretty agile in the bends.
Related: Mercedes Says It’s Considering 4-Cylinder AMG SL 43 For US, But Do You Even Want It?
The question is, what will it sound like, and will it sound exciting (and luxurious) enough when its rivals are still toting six-cylinder powerplants? AMG says the adaptive exhaust system, which can change its sound depending on the driving mode selected, the engine speed and engine load, provides “the appropriate acoustic background” to the C 43 experience. But owners who want more can pay extra for the ironically named AMG Real Performance Sound system, which picks up the engine noise in the exhaust system and pipes it into the cabin electronically.
How much is it and is the wagon coming to the US?
Prices for the C 43 sedan and wagon will be announced when it goes on sale late in the year, but are expected to start at around $55,000. Unsurprisingly, the load lugger variant is once again missing from the US lineup though. While Canada did get the old model, Mercedes opted not to sell that one in America.
Would AMG’s switch to four cylinder power put you off buying a C 43 ahead of one of its six-cylinder rivals, and now we know what the baby AMG sedan looks like, what do you want to see from the upcoming C63? Leave a comment and let us know.