Both the C43 AMG and the C63 AMG have quickly become two of the most sought-after Mercedes models since their introduction. The C43 received widespread criticism for its alleged lack of power, but its agile handling, stellar performance, and plush cabin have since won over its detractors. Meanwhile, the C63 AMG has long impressed motorists with its potent engine and agile handling.
The C43 is often compared to its bigger sibling, the C63, and that’s not an unfair assessment. The C63 costs around $10,000 more than a base model BMW M3, but it has significantly more horsepower. Mercedes upped the power of the C63 and C63 S AMGs by 84-107 horsepower and the torque by 99-131 pound-feet.
Mercedes was forced to stop producing both vehicles in 2021 and 2022 due to stricter pollution laws. Fortunately, after significant redesigns, the C43 AMG and C63 AMG will both be back on the market in 2023. Mercedes has unveiled the C43, while the C63 is still in its final phases of development. Both vehicles will have new 2.0-liter inline-4 engines with electric motors and electric turbos in place of their old powertrains.
Mercedes C43 vs C63 AMG History & Performance
After a brief run in production (from 1998 to 2000), the Mercedes C43 AMG was put out of production (from 2001 to 2014). In 2015, it was reintroduced as an all-new model with an all-wheel drive (AWD) system in place of its previous rear-wheel drive (RWD) structure. However, the C63 AMG was offered constantly from 2008 to 2021, and it was always offered with RWD throughout that time. Both vehicles have been subjected to rigorous critical evaluation, and the general consensus is that Mercedes achieved the ideal blend of performance and luxury. Both the C43 and the C63 are capable of neck-craning acceleration, but the C63 has traditionally touted higher performance.
W202 (1998-2000) C43 AMG
The first generation C43 AMG was produced between 1998 and 2000 and was powered by the M113 engine, a 4.3-liter naturally aspirated V8 with AMG tuning. The pistons were cooled by oil jets, the engine had twin-tube air intakes, and the camshafts were modular. The rods were forged. Mercedes boasted, “It still performs as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle,” which is quite an achievement. In terms of top-end speed, it was only surpassed by the S600, another Mercedes model.
The rear wheels of the W202 C43 AMG were driven by 302 horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque through a 5-speed automated transmission. It was a strong performer for the period, reaching 60 mph from a standstill in 6.1 seconds and covering a quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 98 mph. Even though its severe suspension has been criticized time and time again, it has held up quite well over the past twenty years and beyond. The cabin’s interior is understated in its sophistication, but cramped.
W205 (2015-2022) C43 AMG
When Mercedes reintroduced the W205 C43 AMG the same year, they called it the C400 4MATIC instead of the AMG moniker that it had previously had. The following year, Mercedes renamed it again, this time to C450 AMG. It was powered by the same motor and looked very similar, with minor cosmetic changes. After a long absence, the Mercedes C43 AMG moniker and the cabriolet and coupe body styles reappeared in 2017.
From 2015 to 2021, the C43 AMG’s 3.0L biturbo V6 (the M276 DE 30 LA) is the only engine available. The M276’s output increased from 362 horsepower and 380 torque in 2015–2018 to 385 horsepower and 385 torque in 2019–2021. The transmission is a 7-speed automatic that sends power to all four wheels and is standard in all model years. Make sure you read our previous analysis of typical issues with the M276 engine family.
Significant enhancements were made to the W205 C43 AMG’s performance over its predecessor, the late ’90s model, allowing it to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and complete the 1/4 mile in 13.1 seconds at 108 mph. While reviewers praise the C43 AMG’s responsive steering and nimble performance, drivers have complained about the car’s harsh ride quality (again). The antiquated infotainment system and dearth of standard features were also cited as complaints about prior model years.
W206 (2023+) C43 AMG
For the 2023 model year, the C43 AMG will be back, but this time with a hybrid electric drivetrain. In the M139, Mercedes installed a 48v hybrid electric starter-generator system to complement the engine’s 2.0L inline-4 displacement. The M139 generates 402 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, and the hybrid system can provide an additional 13 horsepower. Also, the M139 is the first mass-produced internal combustion engine to use a turbocharger powered by electricity. Technology from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team was purportedly repurposed for use in the electric turbo.
The Mercedes-patented 4MATIC AWD system sends power to all four wheels through an automatic transmission with 9 speeds. In addition, the variable suspension damping helps make rides around town more pleasant. Early testing indicates that the C43 can go from 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds and complete the 1/4 mile in 12.4 seconds. The C43 has been praised for its lightning-fast acceleration and no turbo lag, but its harsh and rigid suspension has received less praise.
W204 (2008-2014) C63 AMG
The W204 C63 AMG was equipped with Mercedes’ M156 engine. The engine of the C63 is a 6.2-liter, quad-cam, silicone-aluminum-block V8 that generates 451 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. For its monstrous output, wide power range, and otherworldly roar, it was in hot demand. It took the W204 C63 AMG 4.5 seconds to reach 60 mph and 12.1 seconds to complete the quarter mile at 117 mph. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission in all model years. We have already taken a close look at the M156 in our engine guide, so refer back to that for more information.
The W204 C43 AMG was offered with a performance package that increased power by 30 horsepower, using forged internals, and raised the vehicle’s top speed. It received a makeover in 2012 that includes a new grille, front fascia, and LED headlights. Also available as an extra was a limited-slip differential, which aided greatly in transmitting engine power to the road. Its strong but not harsh suspension and confident cornering have earned the W204 high marks from drivers.
W205 (2015-2021) C63 AMG & C63 S AMG
Mercedes-Benz introduced the W205 version of the C63 AMG in 2015, and it featured the introduction of the high-end C63 S AMG. The M177 DE 40 LA, a 4.0-liter biturbo V8 with 32 valves and an aluminum block, was installed by AMG as a performance enhancement. The base model C63 AMG’s M177 is paired with twin BorgWarner turbos good for 469 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, while the S model ups those figures to 503 hp and 516 lb-ft.
These AMG-tuned behemoths can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.8 and 3.7 seconds, respectively, and they can cover the quarter mile in 12.0 and 11.9 seconds at 122 and 123 mph. Until 2018, Mercedes-W205 Benz’s continued to use the same 7-speed transmission. Then, the company introduced a new 9-speed automatic. Both transmissions routed the engine’s output to the vehicle’s rear wheels, and both offered limited slip differential upgrades (standard on the S).
The new W205 has also been praised for its quick chassis and agile handling. Mercedes updated the C63 and C63 S AMG for 2019 with a larger infotainment screen, new color options, altered appearance, and standardization of key safety features.
Mercedes C43 and C63 AMG: Common Problems
After examining the background and performance of the C43 AMG and C63/C63 S AMG, we may go on to discussing their problems. As a whole, neither the C43 nor the C63 AMG has serious issues and is very reliable. With one notable exception, we’ll discuss below: early models of the M156 engine. Let’s take a look at some of the problems that can arise with each of these vehicles, as they are by no means problem-free or invincible.
W202 C43 AMG Common Problems
There is the most information available about the W202 C43 AMG’s dependability because it has been on the market the longest of any model covered here. The M113 V8 engine is reliable and powerful, with no serious flaws. On the other hand, the dual-spark plugs have been known to burn out prematurely, and the rear main seal for the crankshaft frequently leaks. When troubleshooting an M113 engine, be careful to refer back to our previous tutorial, in which we detailed the most frequent causes of failure.
Alternatively, the W202’s suspension has not fared quite as well over the past two decades. Standard components like control arms and bushings typically need updating or replacement at this time. Seriously, the rest of the suspension needs to be checked thoroughly to make sure everything is still tight and working correctly. High-mileage W202 C43 AMGs have been rumored to have problems with its suspension components and bushings wearing out completely.
There are a lot of problems that can arise with the automatic transmission, especially after a lot of miles have been put on the vehicle or if more power is added. After 75,000-80,000 miles, the transmission in a C43 AMG often experiences major problems and needs to be rebuilt. Modifying a C43 AMG causes problems with the transmission because of the car’s increased torque.
W205 C43 AMG Common Problems
Newer models, such as the W205 C400 4MATIC, C450 AMG, and C43 AMG, are more reliably constructed and manufactured than the older vehicles from the late ’90s. However, customers have complained of numerous electrical problems and an abundance of rattles and squeaks, especially in the doors and dashboard.
There are also many issues about the 7-speed transmission. Drivers have complained that it is difficult to shift out of first and second gears from a stop, and that there are loud bangs and pops following particularly rough changes. Despite many reports of transmission rebuilds being necessary, the problem has been resolved in some situations by software updates.
Like its V8 forerunner, the M276 V6 engine is exceptionally dependable. There are, however, some problems with the high pressure fuel pump, carbon buildup from the direct injection, timing chain tensioners, and spark plugs/coils. For a more in-depth analysis of these concerns, be sure to check out our guide on the most pressing M276 issues.
In terms of reliability, the W202 and W205 C43 AMGs are above average, albeit misused examples are more likely to break down. When it comes to the suspension of a high-mileage W202, it’s best to play it safe and get a professional opinion to make sure everything is in working order. Although there aren’t many high-mileage W205s out there, drivers haven’t experienced too many issues with the model.
W204 C63 AMG Common Problems
The W204 C63 AMGs with the M156 engine from before 2011 have the most serious problems. The engine is generally dependable, although it has had major issues with the head bolts and the valve train. Mercedes’ M156 head bolts before 2011 were poorly engineered and prone to leaks and breakage. There were frequent reports of coolant leakage and subsequent engine failure because of loose head bolts. The cam adjusters, cam lobes, and lifters of the valve train were all malfunctioning. Again, they were all badly made, leading to issues with lubrication and oil depletion, as well as a great deal of wear and tear before their time.
As a refresher, our tutorial has already covered the M156 engine.
Drivers have complained about the 7-speed transmission in both the C63 AMG and the W205 C43 AMG. Other than the engine, squeaks and rattles are the most frequently mentioned issues with this vehicle. Squeaking is a common complaint from motorists, who point the finger to the car’s dashboard, climate controls, sunroof, brakes, doors, and mirrors. It’s possible that some of these issues stem from shoddy construction, such as loose screws or inadequate gluing. Even if these aren’t major issues, they can feel magnified after shelling over $60,000.
W205 C63 AMG Common Problems
The M177 DE 40 LA is a strong and dependable powerplant for the W205 C63 AMG. Drivers have reported issues with both spark plugs and coil packs, although misfires remain the primary concern. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how fast they expire. The M177’s massive output of 469–503 horsepower is likely to blame, since the engine would quickly wear out its spark plugs at that rate.
Rattles and squeaks are a common complaint, just as they were in the W204 C63 AMGs and C43 AMGs. Most of the attention should be paid to the steering wheel, brakes, doors, and rear suspension. Similarly, the intake manifold is a weeper due to subpar construction.
All of these are minor concerns, much like the W204, but they become more noticeable in a car that costs as much as this one does. Mercedes-Benz automobiles are known for their solid construction, yet many C63 AMGs appear to be subpar examples.
Mercedes C43 vs C63 AMG Summary
Both the C43 and the C63 AMG from Mercedes are excellent automobiles that do justice to the AMG moniker. The C43 has undergone nearly infinite refinement since its original release in the late 1990s. In contrast, the C63 has maintained the same level of cutting-edge luxury and technology when it was first introduced in 2015.
The C43 AMG is no match for the C63 AMG in terms of speed, but it’s still a lot of fun. When it comes to handling and comfort, the C43 AMG is more family friendly. Those who must deal with heavy precipitation or snowfall will benefit greatly from its 4MATIC AWD drivetrain. However, the C63 AMG provides the same level of luxury and comfort in a significantly more potent vehicle.
Contrary to popular belief, the price difference is not that large. Prices for the C43 AMG are typically around $10,000 lower than those of the C63 AMG, though this does vary widely based on the many add-ons chosen. That’s certainly not a trivial drop, but it’s tough to defend in light of the performance hit. The C43 AMG is the only option for individuals who require all-wheel drive.
Mercedes has only revealed the 2023 C43 AMG’s specifications so far. As far as we know, the C63 AMG is still in the works. Mercedes’s hybrid-electric powertrain has already proven to be just as capable of producing power, so it will be intriguing to watch where it goes in the future.