The German automaker excels is the new performance four-door hatchback market.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT43 is designed to compete against the most advanced performance fastbacks in the world — and succeeds at every level.
Automotive designers always return to some variation of the fastback because it's a very beautiful and convenient design. For sports cars, two-doors and a hatch for the rear was standard for decades. Now designers lean towards four doors for easy passenger access, but they also include that fastback roof with a big hatch.

The Mercedes-AMG GT43 is Mercedes-Benz's entry in this comparatively new category. It competes with the Audi A7 sportback, BMW X4, and the Porsche Panamera, all of which use a similar design.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Automakers and consumers love hatchbacks because they look great and provide a large amount of cargo space.

As an AMG, this vehicle represents the performance sub-brand of Mercedes-Benz. That generally means a more powerful engine along with suspension, brake, and interior upgrades centered on performance. It also means a higher price tag.

Unlike most AMG products, the GT43 does not have a direct match in the non-AMG Mercedes lineup. This vehicle stands alone, and the closest non-AMG Mercedes is the GLC coupe, which is an SUV. The GT43 is very much a performance passenger car.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2021 Mercedes-AMG 43GT is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder that produces 362 horesepower 369 foot pounds of torque.

The specialness of an AMG always starts with the engine. In this case, a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder turbocharged engine with 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Power is passed through a nine-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission and then to all four wheels through Mercedes' 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. The result is a four-door, five-passenger coupe that will hit 60 MPH in 4.8 seconds.

On top of the engine power, AMG bestows a performance suspension and braking setup on the GT43. The AMG Ride Control suspension is firm — perhaps firmer than some customers would prefer. The brakes are large and effective, which means you'll have to train your foot to be gentle. If you give the brake pedal a little too much force, your passengers are likely to spill their coffee.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCJMEIDE - The 2021 Mercedes-AMG 43GT offers every advanced automotive technology, including its own "Hey Mercedes" voice control function.

The AMG performance credo extends to the interior, and this is another area where the GT43 may or may not be your particular cup of tea. The performance seats are firm and designed for maximum support in energetic driving. Be sure to sit in a variety of Mercedes products when at the dealership. You may find that a different model is much more comfortable for your body shape.

Technology is another area where Mercedes-Benz is leading, but drivers may wish for a throwback to a simpler time. The GT43 has a magnificent screen-based display, and it's accessed through a touchpad. I'll freely admit that I don't like touchpad interfaces, because they tend to require more attention than a driver should give for infotainment. However, there's a saving grace: the "Hey Mercedes" voice control function. PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - There is more than enough cargo space under the large hatch for long road trips. In any modern Mercedes-Benz, you can largely ignore the touchpad interface and just ask the car to change settings for you. Simply say, "Hey Mercedes" and the music or route guidance stops and you can ask for anything from turning on the seat heat to changing the radio station, or you can have the history of the War of 1812 read out loud for you. Just ask the car for it.

On the road, the GT43 is an impressive vehicle. It's fast, has tight handling, and looks great. I would have preferred a softer seat, but if you are a performance enthusiast, you're likely to love everything about this car. Any Mercedes-Benz dealer will tell you that the AMG is built to a performance standard, and it's not for everyone. A test drive is the best way to learn if it's for you.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GT43

Base price: $89,900

Price as tested: $97,475

Type: Compact hatchback

Engine: 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder (362 hp, 369 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 9-speed twin-clutch automatic

EPA estimated mileage: 20/25

Overall length: 199.2 inches

Curb weight: 4,530 pounds

Final assembly: Sindelfingen, Germany

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