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2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class

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2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class Review

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The CLK is Mercedes-Benz's mid-level premium coupe and convertible line. Although the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK costs significantly more than its competition, the company believes the brand's name and engineering excellence command the higher price. Styling, performance and luxury hold strong sway with consumers in these market categories, and the CLK Coupe and Cabriolet are prime examples. The CLK Coupe stands out from the few others in this segment by touting a pillarless hardtop design and a stunning profile. Where the CLK350 and CLK550 clearly place luxury above any really serious performance ambitions, the 475-horsepower CLK63 AMG and 500-horsepower AMG Black Series make no bones about their intentions. True driving enthusiasts, however, may turn to Audi or BMW, as the CLK63 AMG still is not offered with the choice of a manual transmission.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you wish the E-Class Sedan were available in coupe or convertible form, the CLK is about the closest you're going to get, short of a custom job. A rigid body, firm ride and well-insulated soft top (on the Cabriolet) await the CLK's lucky owners. There aren't many rivals in this price range, making the 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK a rather exclusive vehicle.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The high price tag for the Cabriolet and V8-powered models is the only negative on our radar screen. In true two-door fashion, the CLK offers little in the way of rear-seat legroom and a manual transmission is not offered on any model.

What's New for 2008

The limited-production 500-horsepower CLK63 AMG Black Series Coupe joins the line.

Driving the CLK-Class
Driving Impressions

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK550's V8 develops 382 horsepower, which rockets the car forward while leaving behind the unmistakable note of a V8 exhaust. The wonderfully neutral handling requires only minor...

... input to the steering wheel and offers excellent feedback. Mercedes-Benz also includes two settings for the smooth-shifting seven-speed transmission; one for comfort and one for sport. In the comfort setting, the transmission starts in second gear, reducing the amount of torque to the wheels and thus improving traction. This setting is very useful for those who drive in snow and rain.

Pop-Up Roll Bars
Integrated pop-up roll bars on the CLK Cabriolet remain out of sight until needed.

Side Turn Signals
Turn signals built into the bases of the side-view mirrors are visible to drivers next to you.

2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class Details
Interior

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK's interior received a thorough update in 2006, more an improvement than a replacement. Familiar Mercedes-Benz styling cues were augmented by better ventilation controls, while the power seat controls were mounted on the door, forming the familiar shape of a seat. Clever features abound, such as the electronic arm that extends for front-seat occupants or the power-operated front seats that automatically move forward when the seatbacks are tipped up. We found the CLK's seats offer a wide range of positions, including the ability to raise the seat bottoms to a significant rake. This is a favorite position for long-legged drivers who need more thigh support.

Exterior

Introduced in 2003, the CLK's timeless design remains fresh and alluring. The stunning Cabriolet takes full advantage of the rakish CLK lines and, with the top removed, looks as though it was born to be a convertible. One of the great features on the Coupe is the absence of a center pillar between the front and rear window on each side. Not only does this design create a beautiful visual profile, it actually improves active safety by allowing an unobstructed view, with the windows in place or lowered.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

There are four CLK trim levels: The V6-powered CLK350, V8-powered CLK550, the special edition CLK63 AMG Cabriolet and the limited-production CLK63 AMG Black Series Coupe. The base CLK350 has a seven-speed automatic transmission, front and rear fog lights, Bose audio, front side-impact and front and rear head-curtain airbags, automatic roll bars (Cabriolet), 10-way power leather seats, Electronic Stability Program with traction control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with touch controls and memory for the front seats, outside mirrors and steering column position.

Optional Equipment

Options include heated and ventilated front seats, power glass moonroof (coupe), COMAND audio and navigation control, Keyless Go, rear side-impact airbags, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, bi-xenon headlamps and an electronic trunk closer. There are also numerous options grouped into packages.

Under the Hood

Though not as lightning-quick as the 5.5-liter V8 found in the CLK550, the CLK350's 3.5-liter V6 provides the quick throttle response buyers expect from a $50K-plus automobile (let's face it, no one buys a CLK without options). For those who insist on top performance, the 6.3-liter V8 in the two CLK63 AMG cars really turns up the volume.

3.5-liter V6
268 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2400-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25

5.5-liter V8
382 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
391 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2800-4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/22

6.3-liter V8
475 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
465 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19

6.3-liter V8 (Black Series)
500 horsepower @ 6800 rpm
465 lb.-ft. of torque @ 5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19

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