The middleweight sports sedan is often the sweet spot for many car enthusiasts. Not as hardcore or as expensive as something like a C63 or M3, these Goldilocks sedans have enough room for a forward-facing car seat, a diaper bag, and an in-law, yet still promise to thrill. The old Mercedes-AMG C43 was one of the best of the bunch with its firecracker exhaust and surprisingly sharp reflexes, but now there’s an all-new one. Pricing is out for the 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43, so let’s have a look to see if it still strikes a happy medium.
While a turbocharged two-liter four-cylinder engine in an AMG C-Class sounds a bit alarming, experience with transverse applications suggests there isn’t much to worry about. Sure, sound isn’t quite the same as the old V6, but AMG builds smooth and torquey four-bangers with huge output. This one in particular cranks out 402 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque, more than a match on paper for the outgoing V6. What’s more, the C43 doesn’t seem like a one-trick pony. It gets standard four-wheel steering, sticky summer tires, recalibrated steering and suspension, and a nine-speed automatic gearbox with a wet clutch system that should be excellent. On paper, this thing has what it takes to keep up with a BMW M340i.
However, pricing is a different story. At first, the C43 seems like a reasonable proposition. It still starts around $60,000, and it gets standard all-wheel-drive. There’s some good kit as standard too, from ambient lighting to a giant infotainment screen. However, many really desirable features are locked behind packages and standalone option boxes that balloon the price significantly. Let me show you what I mean.
If you want premium audio, which many buyers will, it’s part of the Pinnacle trim which costs $2,800 more than the base Premium trim. Granted, the Pinnacle trim also bundles in a heads up display and navigation, but shouldn’t navigation be expected on a luxury car of this price? Sure, most people use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but a native navigation system really helps if you’re in an unfamiliar area with patchy cellular service.
A basic exterior blackout pack that nixes some of the car’s shiny trim costs $750, which is very alright. However, metallic paint is also $750, a high price for any color that isn’t especially fancy but isn’t basic black or white. Oh, and leather is $1,620 because why wouldn’t it be? There’s other weird nickel-and-dime stuff too. A heated steering wheel isn’t bundled into any trim level and is instead a $250 option. It’s the same deal with acoustic glass, a $150 option.
A reasonably-equipped C43 with premium audio, nice wheels, optional $200 inlaid interior trim, cooled seats, adaptive cruise control, extra USB-C ports, nifty headlights, and all the stuff listed above comes to $71,670, which is a lot of money. A comparably-equipped BMW M340i xDrive stickers for $67,290, or $3,750 less than the Mercedes. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot less money, but the $70,000 threshold is often a critical one. Load a C43 up all the way with everything that isn’t dealer-installed to look like the one in these press photos, and you’re looking at an $83,955 C-Class. I loaded an M340i xDrive up with everything and just barely got it to crack $72k, while a loaded-to-the-hilt Audi S4 came out to $68,790.
To give greater context, here’s a list of sports sedans you can buy for less than $83,955, and often a lot less at that: Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, Audi RS5 Sportback, BMW M3, Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing, Lexus IS500 F-Sport, Polestar 2 dual-motor with the performance pack, Tesla Model 3 Performance. All of these are very credible sports sedans and some are a huge step up in performance focus over a C43. It’s such a shame because even when very well-specced, the old C43 was a lot more affordable than an M3. It was never a cheap car, but it was a hell of a proposition for the money. Plus, if you can now load up a C43 to north of $80,000, what on earth will the next C63 cost?
(Photo credits: Mercedes-Benz)
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So sad this 402hp engine doesnt come in a sporty car with a manual. Jeeze I long for my old Lancer Evolutions and this engine in a 3300lb chassis with a stick would be AMAZING.
Why havent the others caught up? Golf R still has crappy output, Wrx and STI still far less even with the emphasis on being sporty boy racers. Ugh.
Why does the old man Merc 2.0 have such sweet numbers but the fun chassis cars dont. Sad sad sad.
Audi really isn’t any better. Bottom line wise maybe the RS5 is cheaper but they still play games with packages and options. Everyone loves those diamond stitched sport seats in Audi’s, right? Too bad if you want them to be ventilated though. Audi hasn’t figured that out. You want ventilation you gotta spring for the warm weather package, which also deletes the Alcantara on the doors and replaces it with what’s essentially a nice piece of vinyl, and replaces the gorgeous sport seat with a Lazyboy. Even ambient lighting is locked behind the top-tier Prestige trim. Other options are only an option on the Prestige. Things like ACC are standard on none of the trims. You could spec an S5 Prestige with no ACC, lane assist, or auto high beams. Those are things you get standard on most cars nowadays, and you gotta spend 2$k for it.
A hubris of AMGs
literally laughed out loug (LLOL) when I realized leather wasn’t standard.
Honestly, a heated steering wheel as a standalone option for $250 is great. Should it be included on a vehicle like this, absolutely! But in general, that’s the kind of thing that’s usually connected with 20 other things resulting in a $3k upgrade.
This probably shows that I’m more of a Chevy / Ford / Toyota buyer I guess haha
Not gonna lie, I’m kinda pumped you can get something that isn’t leather. Surely leather is included in packages that are utterly essential, so they’ll likely never sell a single car without leather, but I like that you could get it
If you go for ventilated seats, you have to get leather. Otherwise, the leather option looks to be stand alone. I would rather not pay for leather, but, living in FL, I’ve always wanted ventilated seats…
I’m not sure what happened, but the related stories have a massive font on this article. It looks like they ended up with the full-size headline font.
I’m more worried about 402 very German horsepower coming from a turbocharged 2 liter engine
My comment has nothing to do with anything other than my juvenile attempts at humor by saying FFS! to every price I see. Pretty lame if you ask me, but I keep on doing it anyway.
However, 200hp per liter ain’t that cray-cray anymore. I bet they hold up about as well as most German engines (wait, maybe you do have a point)…
I chuckle at your FFS comment every time. A combination of my own juvenile humor and old man agreeance.
I’m basically the target demographic for warm sports sedans and one of them will be my next move in a few years…but this isn’t competitive where things stand today. Also not having leather standard in a $60,000+ car is ridiculous, not to mention the black out kits on all the German sports sedans are essentially mandatory because all the shiny trim they come standard with is unpleasant aesthetically speaking and makes them almost indistinguishable from their standard versions. An S Audi literally looks incomplete without the black optic package.
This costs more than the competition and it will be significantly less reliable as well. I get that probably 90% of these are leased so it likely doesn’t matter to a lot of customers, but a 200 horsepower per liter 4 cylinder is going to absolutely explode as soon as the warranty is up. The B58 in the M340i is as solid as German engines get and the turbo 6 in the Audis is way less stressed from the factory and is ridiculously smooth. My mom just got an SQ5 and that powertrain is the highlight of the car.
This is a bad idea and the full 63 with this overburdened motor AND a bunch of electric gadgetry is going to be untouchable off warranty. It wouldn’t surprise me to see 43s selling in the low to mid 30s in a few years and for 63s to see similar depreciation. There are NOT built to last…although like I said if you’re just leasing who cares?
You can also get a CT4V BW for the price of any of these which comes in stick and will mop the floor with them performance wise…not to mention the apple of my eye the TLX Type S, which you can get into in the low 50s, has the best AWD system and likely handling of the whole group, and you can actually keep it for more than 3-4 years.
I’m honestly in the other camp. I don’t hate the black optic package so much as I hate this new trend of trying to turn every car into a Batman stealth bomber with matte black wraps, wrapped window trim, black wheels and black all the things. My S5 is black with the alu-optics and I think it looks great, especially with the silver RS grille. It breaks up the car visually instead of making it one giant mass of darkness.
If you black out everything the car ends up looking like a Mexican beach pebble, unless it’s a bright color like Misano Red.
I’m with you. I’m tired of blackout trim, black wheels, etc. Looks like some shitty aftermarket stuff the 3rd owner would put on one of these AMGs.
Agreed. I have black wheels for winter use and even on my white exterior w/chrome trim and black accents all over (Sonata N Line), black wheels are on my black list going forward. If you are not right on top of them, you get no wheel detail. I could live with a gunmetal gray or similar, but not black again.
My S4 has the black RS grille and a carbon diffuser but I left all the other shiny stuff and debadged it. It’s an S4, not a race car, so I like that only enthusiasts can tell that it’s an S (hint: S’s all have silver mirror caps – easy to tell if you’re looking at an S-line or an actual S. RS models have carbon caps.)
At least until I accelerate and all they hear is supercharger whine.
I’m currently driving a CLA 45 with the same engine without the mild hybrid assist of the C43. It makes 382 hp and when the CLA 45S becomes available in the states next year it will clock in at 417. The same engine will be in the 2024 C63S where it is paired with a full hybrid assist which bumps it up to 671 hp (the outgoing bi-turbo V8 was putting out 507)!
382 horses is a lot of fun in my CLA, but I will only have it for a year (employee lease). I’m hoping to lease a C43 when my current lease ends (if one is available). It will be a bit slower, but I’m 6’4″ and it’s a bit of squeeze to get into the CLA. If I like it, I will probably purchase one when that lease is up.
I had never owned or driven an MB before I joined the company. I can honestly say I’ve never been in a nicer or better performing car than the CLA 45 I’m currently driving. I am quite impressed with it and would have to take it to the track to find its limits.
Of course, the reason I had never owned a MB is I could have never afforded one. The only reason I have one now is because of the discount I get as an employee. At driver training last year, I was able to drive almost every AMG there is and was blown away by what they could do when pushed beyond the limits of public roads. They are fantastic, but unattainable by most of us. Even with my employee discount, the only AMG models I can afford are the 43s and 45s. The 53s and 63s are things I am happy to have tried, while knowing one will never be parked in my driveway (the 63S wagon was my favorite).