2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 borrows F1 tech to push up to 425bhp
- The upcoming Mercedes-AMG C 43 offers power and comfort in a practical four-door package.
- F1’s high tech means more power from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder.
- Look for it by the end of the year with pricing announced closer to launch.
Now you and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton can finally have something in common: electric turbocharging in your cars!
Hamilton’s F1 engine has a turbo in the valley of the V of its V6 engine which is powered not only by bursts of engine exhaust, but by an electric motor located midway between the two rotating vanes at the ends of the turbo shaft. Mercedes has taken this technology and transferred it directly to the inline-four of the upcoming C 43, using it to eliminate turbo lag, flatten the torque curve and boost peak power to 402bhp, or around 17 hp more than the previous V6 turbo. in the previous C 43.
It’s just one of many optimizations proving that there is, in fact, a substitute for cubic inches (at least until all-electric powertrains take over). The other optimization is a 48-volt belt-driven hybrid system that also helps with output. Hamilton’s Mercedes F1 also has a hybrid, but it’s a bit different. Nevertheless, never miss an opportunity to claim that your tram directly benefits from the technology of your race car. The C 43’s second-generation belt-driven generator-starter can add an additional 13 hp for short bursts, bringing the 2023 C 43’s total horsepower to 425 hp for drag racing purposes. And it’s good. The car’s official 0-60 mph time is 4.6 seconds.
Granted, that power is channeled to all four wheels via Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, with 69 per cent of the torque routed to the rear wheels for a sporty feel. In between is an AMG Speedshift MCT nine-speed automatic transmission. If it had been a simple rear-drive setup we were talking about, the lighter curb weight would have been even faster at 60, and with a manual transmission maybe even more fun to drive, not to mention lighter, less complex , and Less expensive. But we in the US will only get the above powertrain.
We’ll also have our choice of 19- or 20-inch wheels; standard nice, comfortable and grippy racing seats; and a 12.3-inch multi-configurable dashboard and 11.9-inch center touchscreen more or less straight from the S-Class. The latter lets you access the latest generation MBUX user interface from Mercedes that does just about everything for you.
With all that in mind, we traversed the winding hills of north-eastern France in a C 43 for the day. After about half an hour behind big trucks and slow European-style motorhomes, we took off to the left on a road no one else was on and let go. The C 43 is comfortably fast in all conditions and in each of its three riding modes. I immediately thought of a comparable BMW/Audi product and accepted the list of two competitors from Mercedes: the BMW M340i xDrive and the Audi S4. The BMW gives a much sportier feel, with immediate and precise feedback that makes you want to drive all day and maybe even the rest of your life in one of its M cars. The Audi is similar but a little more discreet. The AMG C 43 was even more comfortable, but still very well controlled in the corners. Depending on how much aggressive sport driving you had planned for your rental period, you would want to choose from these three accordingly. The Mercedes was the most comfortable of the three, but managed to retain enough sporty feel that no one really complained.
What they could complain about, and what I’ve complained about with AMGs since they first drove, was the linearity of the brake and throttle pedals. Although not exactly an on/off switch, a little progression in pedal response would be appreciated. Likewise, the steering wasn’t numb, just not as communicative as its competitors.
Again, maybe that’s what AMG customers want, at least comfort. I don’t think they want such a sudden response from the pedals.
The C 43 is an excellent daily driver, especially if your daily commute involves a winding mountain road. If you commuted between Santa Cruz, California, and Silicon Valley along Highway 9 and there was miraculously never any traffic, for example. Likewise, Angeles Forest Highway to Angeles Crest Highway to Los Angeles would be fine in a C 43. You know your favorite road.
At this point, we don’t know anything about pricing. The current model starts in the $60,000s, so that’s not cheap, even for an entry-level performance sedan. But it covers every corner of the market, perhaps the most competent comfort corner. Look for it at dealerships in “late 2022”.
Among the major players in the field of compact performance sedans, where do your tastes lie? Share your opinion in the comments below.
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