2021 Mercedes-AMG C53: four-pot C43 successor drops disguise

The Mercedes-AMG C53 4Matic has been spotted undergoing its latest round of testing in what appears to be production-ready bodywork, less than a year before it’s planned to head into showrooms alongside standard versions of the new, fifth-generation C-Class.

Set to rival the Audi S4 and  BMW M340i xDrive, the four-wheel-drive C53 will replace today’s C43 4Matic. It forms part of an extensive new C-Class line-up from AMG alongside successor models to today’s C63 and C63 S – each to be offered in saloon, estate, coupé and cabriolet body styles.

While it still wears non-standard alloy wheels that will evolve further before reaching production, these latest images give us our best look yet at the front and rear end of the upcoming saloon.

The C53 prototype pictured here is clearly differentiated from standard versions of the new C-Class we’ve already caught testing by a series of typical AMG styling elements, including a Panamericana grille with vertical louvres, a deeper front bumper assembly with new vertical ducting and so-called flics within the outer edges, wider sills and a bespoke rear bumper housing four round tailpipes.

Those exhausts single out the prototype as a C53, because all sightings of the top-end C63 have so far been with square-shaped exhaust tips. as well as a more aggressive front bumper and larger brakes.

It also sports large brake discs and what appear to be six-pot front brake calipers – a telltale sign that this is no ordinary C-Class. Further differentiation from previous Mk5 C-Class prototypes include 18-inch wheels.

The C53 had previously been spotted taking part in cold-weather testing with extensive visual camouflage, including heavily disguised front and rear lights and contrasting alloy wheel designs.

As first reported by Automotive Daily’s exclusive partner Autocar last year, AMG has settled on a four-cylinder strategy for its new C-Class models.

The C53 is planned to eschew the turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine of the existing C43 for a further developed version of the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine already used by the A35 and its more powerful A45 sibling.

Nothing is official just yet, although indications are it will be tuned to develop in the vicinity of 283kW, giving the new C53 and subtle 10kW increase in power over the outgoing C43.

Along with the new engine, the new AMG model is set to adopt a nine-speed automatic gearbox and heavily updated four-wheel drive system offering a greater apportioning of drive front to rear.

Meanwhile, Autocar has learned AMG is also developing an advanced new turbocharger setup in partnership with its Brixworth, UK based High Performance Powertrain division for use on future production models, including the new four-cylinder engine due to enter service in the next C63 during the second half of 2021.

Similar to the system already used by Mercedes on its F1 race car and set to appear on the AMG One hypercar, the new layout is understood to add an electric motor and compressor to the induction system to boost output, eliminate turbo lag and provide what AMG insiders describe as “energy to be harvested back into the system for added performance”.

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