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Over the years, the Mercedes AMG C43 has been a compelling balance of handling, luxury, and performance. However, Mercedes made a controversial decision for the newest version of this compact AMG contender. Now sporting a four-cylinder turbo mild-hybrid rather than a six or eight-cylinder engine, the 2023 AMG C43 is radically different, and it doesn’t seem to work.

How the 2023 AMG C43 compares to the 2022 version

2023 C43 AMG2022 C43 AMG
Engine2.0-liter four-cylinder mild-hybrid3.0-liter twin-turbo V6
Torque369 lb. ft.384 lb. ft.

Looking at the numbers, Mercedes’ choice to ship a four-cylinder mild-hybrid in place of the old V6 is a confusing one. Despite the loss of two cylinders and a turbo, the new C43 is heavier and slower in 2023 than it was in 2022. In addition, while the 2023 four-cylinder C43 AMG makes more power on paper, it’s a tick slower to 60 mph than the previous car. So what, then, is Mercedes trying to do with a four-cylinder AMG? Once again, efficiency is the name of the game.

How the Mercedes-AMG four-cylinder turbo works

AMG C43 Roller
2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 | Mercedes

To AMG’s credit, that the engineers managed to get 403 horsepower from a four-cylinder turbo is an impressive feat. The hand-built engine uses formula 1 technology to achieve its high output, with help from electric power.

Rather than using a plug-in hybrid system, the C43 AMG’s turbo four gets a mild-hybrid setup instead. Mild hybrid, in itself, has a few definitions, ranging from a transmission assist to an electric supercharger. In this case, however, the hybrid system helps spin up the turbo to reduce acceleration lag.

But, as you’ll see in the ThrottleHouse video below, it doesn’t exactly work as expected. In the test, Thomas remarks that the new C43 feels more laggy than the outgoing twin-turbo V6. And in the drag race between the C43, BMW M340i, and Audi S5, the Merc finishes in second, just a shade ahead of the Audi.

On balance, that’s not much better than the outgoing version. And it’s markedly behind the BMW when it comes to outright pace.

Does the new Mercedes-AMG C43 get better fuel mileage?

C43 badge
C43 Badge | Mercedes

According to the EPA, the new C43 does achieve its goal of improved fuel efficiency…sort of. For reference, the old car was good for 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. Dropping two cylinders and a turbo in favor of electrification allows the new car to achieve massive increases in efficiency. Now, the C43 AMG is good for 19 mpg city(!) and 26 mpg highway.

Wait, what?

Yes, dropping from a twin-turbo V6 and all of its sonorous glory to an electrified turbocharged four-pot netted the C43 a net gain of one (1) city mile per gallon, and negative one (-1) mpg on the highway.

Innovation for innovation’s sake

We understand that the four-cylinder C43 is a first step for Mercedes. Bringing its F1 tech to the road in a daily-drivable car is just the beginning, after all. But making such a controversial change should come with some tangible upside. And in the 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43, it just isn’t there.

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