2021 Mercedes-AMG GT43 4-Door review: Almost fantastic
When Mercedes-AMG launched the GT 4-Door Coupe in 2018, the US got two V8-powered GT63 models and a superb inline-6-powered GT53. Europe also got a cheaper, less-powerful GT43 that seemed like it wouldn't make sense in the US. But for 2021 the GT43 is now available Stateside, and it feels like a proper AMG… mostly.
On its own, the GT43's powertrain is phenomenal. It's the same turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 with an EQ-Boost mild-hybrid system, like what you'll find in the E450 and CLS450, with 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic is the only transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard. Mercedes says the GT43 will hit 60 mph in a brisk 4.8 seconds, which is quicker than the E450 and matches the CLS450.
The GT53, meanwhile, adds an electric supercharger on top of that turbo I6. It makes 429 hp and 384 lb-ft, an increase of 67 hp and 15 lb-ft over the GT43, and the engine's peak torque is available across a wider rev range. Mercedes says the GT53 will hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, almost half a second quicker than the GT43.
Around town it's tough to notice a difference between the 43 and 53 except for when you really floor it from a light or while merging onto the highway. But the GT43's lack of an electric supercharger really becomes apparent when you get it on a curvy road. Coming out of corners the GT43 just doesn't have enough punch. Even if I drop a gear or two and floor it, it lacks a lot of the 53's slightly manic character. At least the 43 sounds great when equipped with the $1,850 variable performance exhaust.
Thankfully, the GT43's handling makes up for the engine's shortcomings. It continues AMG's recent trend of offering satisfying electric power steering, and its turn-in and overall levels of feedback are just as sharp as the GT53. My test car has a $3,450 set of huge 21-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer tires (sized 275/35 up front and 315/30 in the back), which offer a massive amount of grip. The GT43 feels much more nimble and compact than its 4,530-pound curb weight and 199.2-inch length would suggest.
Typically, you'd think 21-inch wheels would ruin the GT43's ride, but that's not the case. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The GT43 is super composed and comfortable, never getting unsettled or shuddery over even the roughest surfaces and potholes. The ride is noticeably better than that of the E-Class and CLS , and the GT43 comes standard with adjustable dampers.
The GT43 looks identical to the GT53, which is to say it looks excellent. My test car wears $720 Brilliant Blue metallic paint and has all the standard chrome trim intact, which looks great with the 21-inch forged wheels. (If it were my money, I'd go for the $3,950 matte version of this paint.) The six-cylinder GT 4-Doors have less aggressive front fascias than the GT63, and I actually prefer the subtler look. Its hatchback rear end makes it way more practical than a CLS- or E-Class, too.
The GT43's interior has Mercedes' ubiquitous dual-screen setup, a sweeping dashboard and a tall center console with two rows of touchscreen buttons. For 2021 the GT 4-Doors get Mercedes' fantastic MBUX infotainment system, which brings a redesigned touchpad, a voice assistant, navigation, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This GT43's combination of the $2,850 Auburn Brown leather and no-cost Grey Ash matte wood trim looks fantastic, and the interior's design is sufficiently different from a regular E-Class. Despite the sloped roof, there's a pretty great amount of headroom and legroom for regular-sized rear passengers. The rear seats are fixed, though, and the only way to get folding seatbacks is to spring for the $3,550 Executive Rear Seat package, which also adds three-zone climate control, heated and cooled rear cupholders, two rear USB ports, a touchscreen and wireless charging pad for the rear passengers.
As with the styling and powertrain, the GT43 is identical to the GT53 in terms of feature content. Standard items include LED headlights, an active rear spoiler, heated front seats, MB-Tex upholstery, remote start and keyless entry, a power liftgate, a sunroof, ambient interior lighting, a surround-sound Burmester stereo system, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and automated emergency braking.
My GT43 has $17,045 in options for a sticker price of $107,995, and it still isn't fully loaded. Key additions are the $450 ventilated front seats, $2,100 fixed panoramic sunroof, $500 360-degree camera, the must-have $400 drive mode buttons on the steering wheel, a $350 augmented-reality navigation function and the $1,950 Driver Assistance package that adds features like adaptive cruise control, lane-change assist, lane-keeping assist and rear cross-traffic alert. If it were my money I'd also add the $1,320 massaging front seats, $4,550 3D sound system, $1,100 head-up display and $1,100 Acoustic Comfort package to really up the luxury factor.
At $90,950 to start (including $1,050 for destination) the GT43 is $10,050 cheaper than the GT53, which isn't a ton of money in the grand scheme of things -- look how easy it is to add almost double that in options. Then there's the issue of the 2021 CLS53 AMG, which has a starting price of $82,600 and gets the AMG-fettled engine that the GT43 lacks. Or at least it did; the AMG CLS53 is being discontinued for 2022, leaving only the much cheaper CLS450, giving the GT43 some breathing room.
The real reason the GT43 exists in America is so AMG has a direct competitor to the base Porsche Panamera 4, as the GT53 goes against the Panamera 4S. But with the Panamera 4 costing $93,150 and the 4S starting at $106,350, the Porsches have a bigger price difference between them, plus the all-wheel-drive Panamera 4 is already $4,600 more expensive than the rear-wheel-drive version. They also have different engines, standard features and driving characteristics, and the Panamera 4 makes a better case for itself.
After spending a week with the GT43, it still doesn't make a lot of sense. That doesn't mean that it's not incredible to look at, excellent to drive and nice to be inside, though. Even with this lowly powertrain, the GT43 feels worthy of the AMG name. It's more than enough car for people that want the GT look and feel without a mega-high price or a rowdier demeanor. But if you really enjoy driving, the GT53 is well worth the extra cost.