GoAutoLogo
MENU

Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - CLK-class - CLK320 Elegance coupe

Our Opinion

We like
Sweet V6 power, styling, Mercedes' top-level engineering
Room for improvement
Outpriced and outstyled, but not outgunned, by 406 Coupe, some flimsy interior fittings

Mercedes-Benz logo7 Feb 2001

THE Mercedes-Benz CLK320 has the panache if you have the cash.

It is an overtly sporty car for the young and young-at-heart, according to the German giant Daimler-Benz.

In reality, though, only the moneyed young-at-heart will be able to afford the entrance fee for the dreamy four-seater V6 Mercedes CLK 320 Elegance.

For those on more modest incomes, there is the 2.0-litre CLK 200 Sport.

The CLK 320 Elegance is a serious rival for BMW's six-cylinder 3 Series coupe, the Volvo C70 and Peugeot 406 Coupe.

The CLK coupe, like the SLK roadster, is something of a huge departure from pure Germanic form and function.

Both the CLK and SLK represent a newer, more aggressive marketing push by Daimler-Benz.

It aims to snare a new breed of buyers who would not normally put the words "sexy" and "Mercedes" together in the same sentence.

Judging by the stares afforded the CLK we drove, it is bound to find a loyal following.

The C-class-based coupe has an overall length of 4567mm, lying somewhere between the C-class and E-class. There are obvious benefits in interior room.

But the swoopy lines inhibit rear passenger headroom and the big, curvaceous C-pillar creates a blind spot.

But that is the price you pay for drop-dead gorgeous.

The CLK also adopts the love-it-or-hate-it four-headlight look of the larger E-class range.

The heart of the CLK 320 is a superbly smooth 3.2-litre V6.

It is worth taking a peek under the bonnet at this technical masterpiece - 160kW of power at 5700rpm, a huge 310Nm of torque at 3000 to 4600rpm and indecently good fuel economy.

It is a smooth operator but, like other Mercedes, is reluctant to move off-line swiftly. Once under way, the V6 comes into its own, producing plenty of power and torque right up to and beyond cruising speeds.

Any over-enthusiastic manoeuvres are taken care of by the traction control.

Manual gear changes are a breeze, just nudge the shift selector up and down through the traditional staggered Mercedes gate.

The engine itself utilises three-valve technology and extensive use of aluminium, magnesium and plastics to reduce weight.

Two novel but supremely practical additions are the standard Active Service System (ASSYST) which takes care of servicing schedules and the Brake Assist System (BAS).

ASSYST helps extend oil-change intervals by up to 20,000km. A dashboard indicator tells you how much time remains until the next service.

BAS is a masterful stroke of Mercedes safety engineering.

In an emergency stop the system helps shorten braking distances, applying the maximum pressure without locking the brakes. The brakes themselves are strong and fade free.

There are enough other acronyms to have you hitting the manual every time something lights up on the dash panel. Apart from BAS and ASS, there's ABS, ESP, ASR, LIM speed limiter - the list is almost endless.

The Mercedes is not without its foibles, particularly in relation to the over-assisted recirculating ball power steering. At cruising speeds it can be annoyingly light.

The big, meaty tyres also create some amplified road noise on coarse surfaces, somewhat enhanced because of the relative hush in the cabin.

Put all that 205/55 16-inch rubber together with the double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear end, and the CLK delivers a wonderfully reassuring ride and handling compromise.

Bumps and humps are dispatched without unduly upsetting driver or passengers and the car is equally composed punting through sweeping indifferent corners or lazily cruising the freeway.

As the scenery scoots by, both driver and passengers are cocooned in leather luxury.

The front seats look inviting but lack sufficient shoulder support. On a long journey they are reasonably comfortable.

A soothing eight-speaker stereo and six-stacker CD player take care of all things musical but the radio reception, with the aerial in the rear window, is insufficient in the city and lacks range.

As you would expect for the price, the cabin is all electric.

The front seats have an electric tilt-move mechanism that lowers the headrests and moves the seat forward to allow easier access to the two rear seats. The rear seats also fold down to increase luggage space.

The absence of an oil pressure gauge may rankle with some owners who are trading up from older models.

Mercedes claims most buyers do not care but it is one of the quality trade-offs that repeat buyers may find hard to swallow.

Likewise, the quality of the interior carpet and door pockets appear a little down-market.

Ultimately though, all is forgiven when you fire up the sweet V6 and head out on to the open road.

- Automotive NetWorks 20/07/1998

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Enquire on or Test Drive a New CLK-class

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires

Agreement

This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
close
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only
*** Prices exclude on road costs and dealer delivery fees

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.