Mercedes-AMG is introducing the first performance version of the C-Class W206 with the reveal of the C43. It’s Affalterbach’s answer to the BMW M340i, specifically the xDrive version since it comes exclusively with 4Matic. To set it apart from the Benz versions, it gets the aggressive Panamericana front grille and quad round exhaust tips.
The powertrain represents a significant departure compared to the old AMG C43 as the 3.0-liter V6 engine has been deleted. Despite downsizing to a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter mill, it comes with a boost in power of 17 hp to 402 hp. On the flip side, it’s down on torque by 15 lb-ft (20 Nm) as it generates 369 lb-ft (500 Nm). It uses the same engine found in the smaller “45” cars but is mounted longitudinally. For this reason, the letter “l” has been added at the end of its “M139” codename.
Aside from being installed differently, the M139l is the first series-production engine to feature an electric exhaust-gas turbocharger. Derived from F1, it virtually eliminates the dreaded turbo lag courtesy of an electric motor built onto the turbocharger shaft. It accelerates the compressor wheel to speed up the response, thus providing a more direct acceleration.
AMG mentions the full horsepower is available from 6,750 rpm while the torque kicks in at 5,000 rpm. The four-pot engine comes with a mild-hybrid system offering an extra 13 hp for a short amount of time courtesy of the belt-driven starter generator. This sophisticated powertrain enables the 2023 C43 to hit 60 mph in around 4.6 seconds before hitting an electronically capped 155 mph (250 km/h). Upgrading to the 19- or 20-inch wheels allows owners to raise the limiter to 165 mph (265 km/h).
How do all these numbers stack up against the M340i xDrive? Despite having a larger 3.0-liter, inline-six engine, the BMW is down on power by 20 hp, at 382 hp, while torque is identical, at 369 lb-ft (500 Nm). The M Performance 3 Series is still quicker to 60 mph by half a second (4.1 seconds) and it too is limited to 155 mph (250 km/h).
AMG’s engineers have fitted the revamped C43 with a nine-speed automatic transmission equipped with a wet clutch to replace the old torque converter. The AWD system is rear-biased by distributing torque with a 31:69 split. Rear-wheel steering with a maximum angle of 2.5 degrees comes as standard.
It tips the scales at 3,893 pounds (1,765 kilograms), thus making it around 86 lbs (39 kg) lighter than the M340i xDrive. Drivers should know the sports sedan has been equipped with three-stage adaptive steering, bringing a variable steering geometry ratio depending on the chosen drive program. The steering effort is minimal at low speeds, such as when maneuvering or parking. Switching to Sport and Sport+ modes will boost the steering feedback.
From ventilated front seats to a carbon fiber package, optional features are aplenty. One extra we would stay away from is called AMG Real Performance Sound, which pumps out not-so-real engine noise through the speakers. The heated steering wheel costs extra, and so does the panoramic roof. Further driving up the final price tag are goodies such as the acoustic glass, four-zone climate control, and a dashcam.
Mercedes-AMG will have the 2023 C43 on sale in the United States late this year. Pricing details have not been disclosed, but the old version retailed for $56,500. For an extra $200, you could get behind the wheel of an M340i xDrive.