Despite some public resistance to the new four-cylinder C63, Mercedes-AMG still believes in the potential of its hyperactive 2.0-litre engine. Will the new “entry-level” variant’s advantages be enough to convince buyers that the AMG GT 43 is worthy of its name, though?

Let’s get one thing straight right from the outset: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the M139 four-cylinder engine as used in the AMG A45 S hot hatch. In fact, all the accolades showered upon it thus far are probably still not enough to adequately convey its excellence, because it balances an extremely high specific power output with commendable frugality and surprising driveability.

310 kW and 500 Nm from a 2.0-litre are frankly astounding figures, really, and helps this mean little monster to beat the outputs of all Mercedes’s older, naturally-aspirated V8s, bar the legendary 6.2-litre M156 from two generations ago. But AMG products have traditionally been different beasts, always stirring the driver’s emotions rather than merely delivering bland numbers.

This four-pot, excellent though it is, swings the pendulum all the way to the other extreme - it delivers the numbers but likely won’t really deliver on the emotional requirements, simply because it is an inline-four and not a V8 or even an inline-6. No matter how well-tuned its exhaust plumbing and audio system augmentation, a four can never equal the charisma of a six or a V8.


Related: The M139 engine’s true home is in the brilliant A 45 S, which recently received a minor update. Find more info about the facelift here.

About the AMG GT

South Africa is still to receive the second-generation Mercedes-AMG GT, which ditches its predecessor’s front-mid-engine layout and rear-mounted transaxle, for a more conventional SL-derived platform with the gearbox bolted to the engine up front. As a result, the latest AMG GT is conceptually closer to the first-generation GT 4-door coupe, which has always used this traditional architecture, than it is to its SLS-based forefather.

Purists will likely bemoan the departure of the dual-clutch gearbox mounted between the rear wheels, however, and the AWD system fitted to all launch variants will probably offend those same purists in equal measure. The AMG GT was conceived as a hairy-chested beast, after all, so AWD traction really has no place in a car of this nature, they’d say…

Related: The GT isn’t the first high-end Mercedes-AMG to receive the M139 engine - that honor went to the SL 43.

Enter the RWD-only new entry-level GT 43

With this background in mind, the newly-minted AMG GT 43 presents a solution to this predicament at the one end, while introducing a new dilemma at the other. It will only be available with RWD, which should console the gung-ho types who prefer steering with the throttle, but it has to make do with four cylinders to provide the shove.

In mitigation, the M139 is enhanced with a 48V mild hybrid setup in the GT 43, which sharpens accelerator response by adding up to 10 kW in short bursts thanks to its belt-driven starter-generator, while the turbocharger itself incorporates a 48V motor of its own to help it create boost while the turbo’s impeller is still awaiting the flood of exhaust gas it needs to spool up.

Quoted power outputs remain unchanged from its application in the A 45 S, however, and those outputs and the performance they provide are still more than respectable. The AMG GT 43 is claimed to dispatch the 0 - 100 km/h dash in only 4.6 seconds, and it should run up to 280 km/h when the speed limiter is removed.

The other advantage of the AMG GT 43 lies in its curb weight, which could be a good 200 kg lighter than that of a V8-engined GT with AWD, improving agility and enhancing the handling balance. Because most of that weight loss happens at the car’s front end, it should have somewhat sportier driving dynamics, with a sharper turn-in and improved weight distribution.

That’s all well and good, but how much use is any of that to traditional AMG enthusiasts if the engine fails to tickle their ears? In principle, the GT 43 should be a fine driver’s machine and it is more than quick enough, but, because it militates against everything for which AMG used to stand, moving the GT downmarket while retaining the up-scale branding may risk diluting the perceived exclusivity of the range-topping sports car.

Related: Find all the info you need about the next-generation Mercedes-AMG GT in this report on CHANGECARS.

Cosmetic differentiation

While Mercedes is quick to add AMG-Line styling goodies to even their most-mundane models, the AMG GT 43 is the subdued member of its family, despite being an actual AMG model. Its wheel arches are not flared as widely as the others because it has a narrower track, its standard alloy wheels are smaller in diameter, and the bumpers and grille treatments are both much less extroverted than those of the V8 variants. This is possibly the most subdued of all AMGs, which may pose another obstacle for AMG diehards, which traditionally prefer rather more outlandish styling traits.

It’s still loaded with tech, though, and can be specified with adaptive dampers and rear-wheel steering, both of which are optional on the 43 but are included as standard on the higher-end variants. Other optional add-ons include the AMG Dynamics Plus package, which adds dynamic engine mounts, an electronically-controlled differential, a “Race” driving mode, and enhanced active aerodynamics.

Related: You can even get AMG-Line add-ons for the A-Class, as shown on the satisfying A200 in this review.

Shouldn’t the GT 43 rather be labeled as a Mercedes-Benz?

Considering the absence of a V8 (or even the company’s brilliant inline-6), comparatively subdued exterior styling bits, and lower standard specification level, one wonders whether it wouldn’t have made more sense to sell the entry-level GT as a normal Mercedes-Benz rather than slapping an AMG label on its rump.

Absolutely no eyebrows would have been raised if it were called a “Mercedes-Benz GT 430”, and such more-subdued branding may even have persuaded buyers who normally find the AMG badge a bit outré to join the fold. However, calling the GT 43 an AMG is akin to creating a luxurious but still decontented version of a four-cylinder E-Class, applying chrome to its grille and fake tailpieces, and then calling it a Maybach. Marketing hit or miss? Time will tell.

We expect the new Mercedes-AMG GT to arrive in South Africa later in 2024, though the inclusion of the 43 variant is as yet unconfirmed.

Martin Pretorius


Whichever body type or performance level you prefer, you’ll find a Mercedes product to suit your taste in this roaring selection on CHANGECARS.