The Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class is a mid-size rear-wheel drive coupé/convertible.
While it is based on the C-Class, its styling cues, engine, and price range are closer to that of the E-class, leading some to believe that the CLK is a coupé version of the E-class.
Major models include the CLK350, CLK500/550, and CLK63 AMG. The CLK63 AMG's 481bhp (359kW) V8 engine is the most powerful.
Main article: Mercedes-Benz W208
The first-generation CLK was introduced in 1996, 3 years after the 1st generation (W202) C-Class model. The launch of the CLK also marked Mercedes' first foray into the mid-sized coupe market.
Less expensive than the sporty SL-Class convertibles, the first generation CLK cabriolet was the most successful convertible Mercedes-Benz ever offered; 41,520 were sold in the United States from 1999 to 2003, and more than 115,000 were sold throughout the world.
Models offered in the first generation were the CLK200(136 hp), CLK200 Kompressor(192 hp), CLK230 Kompressor(193 hp), CLK320(218 hp), CLK430(275 hp) and the CLK55 AMG(342 hp). All were available in both coupé and convertible form.
The CLK320 coupe was introduced in the 1997 model year, powered by a 3.2 L V6 engine. The CLK320 cabriolet and the 4.3 L V8-powered CLK430 coupe appeared in 1999. A CLK430 cabriolet joined the lineup in 2000. The high-performance CLK55 AMG coupé, which was introduced first in Europe in 2000 and then in the US in 2001, was powered by the "M113" 5.4 L V8 engine. The CLK55 AMG cabriolet became available in 2002, the last year of this body style.
Main article: Mercedes-Benz W209
The CLK coupé was redesigned for 2003, with the cabriolet following in 2004. The current generation of the CLK-Class is 2.4 inches (61 mm) longer, 0.7 inches (18 mm) wider and 1.1 inch (28 mm) higher than its predecessor.
- The CLK320 features a 3.2 L, 18-valve single overhead cam (SOHC) V6 engine and a five-speed automatic transmission. The base price is US$46,000 for the coupé and US$53,600 for the cabriolet. The CLK320 was replaced by the CLK350 for 2006.
- The CLK350 features a 3.5 L, 24-valve dual overhead cam (DOHC) V6 engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission. The base price is US$45,750 for the coupé and US$53,700 for the cabriolet.
- The CLK500 features a 5.0 L, 24-valve SOHC V8 engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission. The base price is US$54,600 for the coupé and US$62,200 for the cabriolet. The CLK500 was replaced by the CLK550 in North America.
- The CLK550 features a 5.5L 32-valve V-8 engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission. The base price is US$55,675 for the coupé.
- The CLK55 AMG features a 5.4 L, 24-valve SOHC V8 engine and a 5-speed automatic transmission. The base price is US$69,900 for the coupé and US$87,000 for the cabriolet. The CLK55 AMG coupé was dropped in North America after the 2005 model year, though the cabriolet is still offered. The CLK55 was replaced by the CLK63 for 2007.
- The CLK63 AMG features a 6.2L V8 with a seven-speed automatic transmission. Available in both Coupé and Cabriolet, the CLK63 boasts 481 hp (354 kW) and 465 ft·lbf (630 newton m) of torque. Compared to its predecessor the CLK63 has 31% more power and 23% more torque. The CLK63 is currently being used as the safety car in Formula One. It accelerates from 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds.
In Europe there was also the CLK 200 K (1.8 R4), CLK 220 CDI (2.1 R4 diesel), CLK 240 (2.6 V6), CLK 270 CDI (2.7 R5 diesel), CLK 280 (3.0 V6), CLK 320 CDI (3.0 V6 diesel); (all standard with 6-speed manual transmission, automatic transmission is optional)
Each model seats four and in the US this includes an all-leather interior with burl walnut trim. For Europe the models are available as "Elegance" or "Avantgarde" versions, basically Luxury or Sport specification where the Elegance uses Burr Walnut trim and polished alloy wheels the Avantgarde uses alloy trim and wider, sportier wheels. The price and specification for European models is otherwise the same. The 4 cyl. cars wear 16" wheels While the CLK320, CLK350 and CLK500 come with 17 inch (432 mm) alloy wheels, the CLK55 AMG sports 18 inch (457 mm) wheels. The cabriolets have a remote-operated automatic soft-top and sensor-controlled roll bars. Since 2000, all US cars come standard with a Tele Aid emergency assistance system, automatic dual-zone air conditioning, 10-way power front seats and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Seven-channel digital surround sound comes standard. A Keyless Go system, navigation system, Parktronic system, and bi-xenon HID headlamps are all available as options. All models come with four side airbags.European cars differ considerably and are usually specced depending on the buyer's needs.
On certain 2003 models there is a radiator leak which can cause thousands of dollars in repairs if not caught early. This problem is known by Mercedes-Benz, whom account around 5% of these vehicles have the problem, although they will not offer any assistance and have not been recalled.
The Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR was a V12 mid-engine race car developed for the 1997 FIA GT championships. It shared only lights and other exterior similarities with the normal CLK. Production of the required 25 road cars began in late 1998.
A special version of the CLK is the CLK DTM AMG sports car, which looks similar to the full race car for the German Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters racing series which has to use a normally aspirated 4.0 L V8, limited to less than 500 hp. 100 Coupés and 80 Convertibles were released for sale in Europe, using AMG's supercharged 5.4 L V8, now producing 428 kW (582 PS) and 800 N·m (590 ft·lbf). The front and rear track are widened by 2.9 and 4.2 inches (74 and 110 mm) respectively, and special tires and suspension modifications allow the car to pull 1.35 g (13 m/s²) of lateral acceleration. 0-100 km/h acceleration is just 3.9 seconds, and top speed is 320 km/h (199 mph). In Germany, the car cost 236,060 euro after taxes.
In addition to hard top CLK DTM AMG, 80 convertible versions of CLK DTM were made for 2006 model year, titled Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG Cabriolet. Compared to the coupé version, a speed limiter further reduces its top speed to 300 km/h (likely due to the top not able to withstand higher wind forces safely).
Owners of the CLK DTM Cabriolet includes former McLaren Mercedes Formula One drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Mika Häkkinen. Häkkinen is currently racing for Mercedes in the DTM championship. Former McLaren Mercedes Formula One driver Kimi Räikkönen owns the hard top version of the CLK DTM.
The CLK is a mid-sized coupe which is based on a lengthened wheelbase of the compact/entry-level luxury C-Class, so it slots between the C-Class and E-Class in price and size, though Mercedes has positioned it closer to the latter. The CLK's styling also drew very heavily on the front and rear styling cues of the mid-size executive (W210) E-Class model. The W210 E-Class itself was inspired by a 1993 concept car which the CLK eventually looked very similar to.
There was a reason for the similarities with the current E-Class. When Mercedes replaced the E-Class W124 with the W210 in 1995, the coupe version was not replaced. Initially, Mercedes planned introduce a smaller C-Class based coupe to rival the BMW 3-Series coupe/cabriolet. In order to attract customers who previously went for the executive-class E-Class Coupe, Mercedes gave the CLK the latest (W210) E-Class' styling features with the 4 headlights and rectangular tail-lights which extended on to the bootlid. This gave the impression that the CLK was a direct successor to the (W124) E-Class Coupe, which was made cleverer in that the CLK was launched 12-months after the (W210) E-Class - the usual gestation time for a saloon spawned coupe by Mercedes. Even the engine range of the CLK was closer to the E-Class than the C-Class. For example, the AMG version used the 5.5 litre V8 from the E55 AMG rather than the 3.6 litre from the C36 AMG. Unlike the W124 E-Class coupe which was classified as 2-door sedan by the SAE, however, the CLK's passenger volume has been significantly reduced.
The C-Class has also spawned another coupe, the W203 C-Class Sportcoupe, which was spun off into its own line as the CLC-Class in 2008. These follow the W203 and W204 C-Classes in styling cues, and engines, though being more compact and priced lower than the C-Class sedan. The Sportcoupé/CLC was designed to counter the BMW 3-Series Compact liftback, and the succeeding 1 Series. Mercedes, however, has not created a direct competitor with the regular BMW 3 series coupe/cabriolet.
The CLK cabriolet is known in the UK as the Loafer because of its resemblance in profile to an Oxford Brogue.
Though they discontinued the W124 E-Class coupe in 1995, Mercedes eventually returned to the executive-sized coupe with the introduction of the CLS-Class, though it is a four-door coupe that is longer and priced higher than the E-Class. While the CLS is designed to compete with the BMW 6 Series, the compact/mid-sized CLK is slotted between the BMW 3 series coupe/cabriolet and the 6 series coupe/cabriolet.