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Expert Reviews 1 of 3
By Jim Flammang
December 3, 2001
Vehicle Overview Performance gets the nod from Mercedes-Benz, which has launched a CLK55 AMG coupe for 2001 to join the existing CLK models. Created by AMG, the companys performance division, the limited-edition CLK55 AMG supercoupe contains a hand-assembled 342-horsepower, 5.5-liter V-8 engine, as well as racing-derived brakes, a stiffer suspension, aerodynamic body components, unique interior trim and special Monoblock 17-inch AMG aluminum wheels. The sticker price for the CLK55 AMG is $67,400, which is $17,750 higher than a CLK430 coupe.
An optional COMAND (Cockpit Management and Data) system controls audio functions, as well as those of the integral satellite-based navigation system and available cellular phone by using a dashboard screen. A new Internet-based InfoServices option, available separately, uses the same screen to display news, stock quotes, sports scores, weather reports and other customized information. One-touch operation has been added to the coupes sunroof, and opening the doors now drops the side windows by about half an inch to assure the best seal when the doors are closed again.
Derived from the previous generation of the compact C-Class sedan, two-door CLK models come in rear-drive coupe and convertible body styles. In addition to the new CLK55 AMG, the lineup includes a CLK320 with a V-6 engine and a CLK430 that packs V-8 power. The two standard models compete against the BMW 3 Series, Lexus SC coupes (redesigned for 2002 as a convertible) and Volvo C70.
Exterior Styling is strictly Mercedes-Benz but with more rounded lines than a C-Class sedan. Oval headlights instead of rectangular units sit within a lower front end that flanks a tapered classic-look grille. Full body-color rocker panels are installed on the CLK320 to match the air dams and rear bumpers. Convertibles have an automatically activated roll bar, as well as a power-operated top that includes a glass rear window with a defogger. The two body styles share little structure and no body panels behind the A-pillars, except for modified doors on the convertible.
AMG-designed Sport aerodynamic enhancements are installed on CLK430 models. Front and rear fog lights are mounted on all models. Tires are 16-inchers on seven-spoke alloy wheels for the CLK320, and 17-inchers equip the CLK430.
Interior Both the coupe and convertible are built to provide ample interior space for four occupants on leather-upholstered seats. The front seats have a 10-way power adjustment with drivers seat memory. A split, folding rear seat is installed in the back.
Standard equipment includes automatic dual-zone air conditioning, a telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, power locks and windows, heated power mirrors with memory, a Bose cassette/weather-band stereo with CD changer, tachometer, digital clock, intermittent wipers, a universal garage-door opener and a theft-deterrent system.
All CLK models have a Tele Aid emergency assistance system with new features that include remote door unlocking, alarm notification and remote diagnostics. Tele Aid can summon emergency help by using cellular and satellite-based technology, which provides a direct link to the companys roadside assistance program.
Side-impact airbags, traction control, antilock brakes and the Electronic Stability Program are standard on all CLK models.
Under the Hood Three engines are available: a 215-hp, 3.2-liter V-6 in the CLK320; a 275-hp, 4.3-liter V-8 for the CLK430; and the new 342-hp, 5.4-liter V-8 in the limited-edition CLK55 AMG. The V-6 also is found in the E320 sedan and other Mercedes models, while the 4.3-liter V-8 is used in bigger vehicles.
All CLK models have a five-speed-automatic transmission that makes use of Touch Shift for manually controlled gear changes by tipping the gearshift lever to the left or right. Mercedes-Benz claims that the new CLK55 AMG coupe is its fastest production model ever, capable of accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds. Side-impact airbags, traction control, antilock brakes and the Electronic Stability Program are standard on all CLK models.