With a scintillating twin-turbo V-6 engine and a sport-tuned suspension, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG C43 is worthy of the storied AMG name. This compact rocket comes in sedan, coupe, and convertible forms, each with an ever-increasing starting price. Buyers seeking a luxury car won’t be satisfied by the C43’s ride—it ranges from stiff to punishing depending on the road and the drive-mode setting. Where the C43 will impress luxury-minded buyers is in the cabin, which is trimmed in rich materials and offers an upscale atmosphere along with a plethora of features. If the regular C-class lineup fails to excite you, the C43—and the even hotter and more raucous C63 (reviewed separately)—is ready to step in to satisfy that need for speed.
What’s New for 2019?
In addition to a power boost to 385 horsepower, the 2019 C43 sees both styling and content changes. A new grille, new wheel designs, and revised front and rear bumpers bring the C43’s design in line with other AMG models. Inside, a digital gauge cluster becomes an option and a new sport steering wheel is standard. New wood and metal interior trimmings as well as optional AMG Performance seats with heat and ventilation are now offered.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- Sedan: $56,245
- Coupe: $58,445
- Cabriolet: $64,645
While the coupe and drop-top cabriolet models may turn more heads, we’d suggest the sedan for its practicality and lower cost of entry. It comes standard with plenty of luxury features, including all-wheel drive, heated power front seats with memory, a proximity key with push-button start, and automatic windshield wipers.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Likes: Lightning-quick acceleration, precise steering, great roadholding ability.
Dislikes: Ride is comfortable only on perfectly smooth surfaces, lackluster braking distances.
Carried over from 2016’s C450 sedan, the C43’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 is a gem. Powerful and torque rich, the 385-hp engine pairs with a new nine-speed automatic transmission that swaps cogs with both speed and precision. The boosted six has deep wells of power and never feels overwhelmed or overworked when you call upon it. Despite the boost in power from 362 to 385 horses, the 2019 C43 sedan delivered the same 4.1-second zero-to-60-mph time at our test track as the 2017 model we last tested. While Mercedes-AMG equips the C43 with a pair of steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, we found the nine-speed gearbox a competent enough companion when left to its own devices.
Befitting its AMG badging, the dynamically adept C43 is a joy to pilot through twisty two-lanes. Credit its quick steering that’s both direct and precise, as well as its rear-biased all-wheel-drive system that allows a dollop of chassis rotation before requesting additional assistance from the front wheels. The suspension can be adjusted between Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings. All three modes are needlessly stiff, however, and make driving over rough pavement a bone-jarring experience.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The C43’s fuel economy won’t put you in the good graces of your local Sierra Club. Still, the twin-turbocharged engine is quite thrifty given its heady performance. Any car that can leap to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds and also deliver 29 mpg in long-distance highway cruising is an impressive player. The C43 sedan we tested did just that; the coupe managed the same result but the convertible fell slightly behind in our real-world testing at 28 mpg.
Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo
Likes: High-class cabin, standard onboard Wi-Fi, above-average small-item storage.
Dislikes: Navigation costs extra, small trunks on two-door models.
The C43’s interior is finely detailed and crafted of rich materials that meet the expectations set by the model’s lofty transaction price. As in other other C-class models, the C43 features a contemporary dashboard design with a flowing center stack that hides a deep storage well with a pair of cupholders. Largely devoid of buttons, the C43’s center stack is anchored by a row of expensive-looking knurled rocker switches for operating the standard dual-zone automatic climate control. While ergonomically arranged, the climate-control panel sports small graphics that can be hard to read on the fly.
All C43 models come with a 10.5-inch infotainment display running the latest version of Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND infotainment software; Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard. Commands are completed using a rotary controller or a touchpad that’s inconveniently placed atop the controller. Response times were no better or worse than your average smartphone.
The C43’s trunk space is average; we fit four carry-on suitcases inside the trunk with the rear seats in use and 15 with the rear seats lowered. Wide door pockets and a pair of generously sized console bins provide the C43 with adequate interior storage. Still, the C-class is short on interior stowage compared with mainstream sedans such as the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Every C43 comes equipped with standard safety features such as forward-collision warning along with automated emergency braking. Additional driver-assistance features are available as well. However, adding these items requires spending thousands on high-priced packages. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Standard forward-collision warning
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Mercedes-AMG’s warranty is shorter than a number of its competitors’. The brand also forgoes providing its customers with complimentary scheduled maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance