2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class

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2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class

Available in 4 styles:  CLK-Class 2dr Coupe shown
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Kelley Blue Book Retail
$3,625–$5,500

Est. MPG

17–21 city / 24–29 hwy


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Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 2 of 4

By 

AZCentral.com
The name may sound like gobbledygook, but in Mercedes-Benz terminology CLK55 AMG signifies top performance for serious drivers.

The fastest production vehicle ever built by Mercedes, the CLK55 is a true supercar in every sense of the word. With the roaring V-8 power of a '60s muscle car and the stiff suspension of an exotic sports car, the acceleration is wild and the handling absolutely uncanny.

Oh, yeah, this compact coupe is fast. Scary fast.

But the brute force is combined with the subtleties of a brilliant suspension, responsive steering and the most powerful set of brakes I've ever experienced.

All around, an awesome automotive tour de force.

The test car was black on black leather, a sinister coupe with its no-nonsense image enhanced by low, aggressive styling, 17-inch performance wheels and fat, sticky tires. It's just too bad you have to break the law to stretch its legs.

Wish I could have gotten this beast on a racetrack.

For those familiar with Benz performance, AMG is the magical monogram of the German giant's high-performance partner. For three decades, AMG took stock Benzes and turned them into supercars for the street and track. In 1998, Mercedes-Benz (now the major division of DaimlerChrysler) bought the tuner and brought its brilliance in house.

Several amazing vehicles have resulted, including the ML55 performance version of the Mercedes' sport utility vehicle.

Here's the CLK55 AMG by the numbers: 342 horsepower from a hand-built V-8, a full 69 horsepower more than the stock engine of the CLK430, on which the AMG coupe is based.

That translates to a 0-60 time of just 4.9 seconds and a top speed electronically limited to 155 mph.

No, I didn't try that out.

Power is fed through a five-speed automatic equipped with Touch Shift for at least a semblance of stick-shift control.

Too bad they didn't see fit to offer a real stick shift in this very special, limited-production coupe.

As well as the race-bred engine, AMG, of Affalterbach, Germany, adds such suspension tweaks as high-rate springs, tighter shock valving, thicker stabilizer bars and harder bushings, all of which help the CLK55 maintain its composure on the most challenging curves. The ride is stiff, that's for sure, but never what you'd call overly harsh.

A superb performance coupe, CLK is also usable as an everyday car. Other than occasional thumps and heaves produced by the stiff suspension, the coupe will totter around town all day, docilely going about its duties as daily commuter or grocery-getter. It's a stealthy craft, though, constantly poised to pounce, a light blip of the throttle unleashing the beast.

Of course, being a top-end Mercedes, the CLK55 AMG is loaded with interesting technological features, all standard, such as ESP stability control; rain-sensing wipers; Brake Assist, which amplifies brake pressure in a panic stop; Tele Aid convenience and emergency communications system; and a host of other high-tech goodies.

Accommodation in the front seats are good, but unless everybody on board is very, very small, don't even attempt to use that back seat. It seems a waste that they even bothered to provide what appears to be a well-furnished seating area, with essentially zero legroom and scant headroom compromised by the sloping roofline.

The 17-inch Michelins provide uncanny grip, though they rumble and thump over rough surfaces, and sound especially harsh on freeway concrete. But the stiff ride and rumbling tires are more than offset by the remarkable handling.

Basically, this car is just too much fun to drive. The engine note under acceleration is a nearly irresistible rumbling howl that evokes high-performance small-block Chevys. It runs like a nicely turned-out hot rod, which it essentially is - German-style.

The price is lofty but not when you compare it with similar expressions of pure muscle and handling.


    Expert Reviews 2 of 4

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