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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - CLK-class

First look: Benz's new CLK

Slippery CLK: Mercedes-Benz claims the CLK's 0.28 Cd is the best in the coupe category.

Sporty coupe to debut at Geneva and will be here mid-year

21 Feb 2002

MERCEDES-BENZ will whip the covers off its second generation CLK coupe at the Geneva motor show next month, with the first examples set to reach Australia around July.

The new C209 CLK replaces a car which first went on sale in Australia in late 1997, and has gone through a styling update, a boost in technology and an increase in standard equipment.

First models to reach Australia will be the CLK320 V6 and the new CLK500 V8, the latter replacing the CLK430. An entry-level CLK240 and hot CLK 55 AMG will be here late in 2002 or early 2003.

Pricing is tipped to start close to current levels, with Mercedes-Benz Australia also predicting improved supply over the life of the new generation.

The revised lineup means the two supercharged models, the CLK200K and CLK230K, will disappear from the Australian range for at least 18 months.

The CLK styling from old to new is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, with signatures that include frameless and fully retractable side windows and twin bi-xenon headlight face.

C209 measures 71mm longer, 18mm wider and 42mm higher than its predecessor. The wheelbase has been increased by 25mm to 2715mm, Benz claiming this will deliver improved distance between the seats, headroom, kneeroom, elbow room and shoulder width.

The body has also been made stiffer with torsional rigidity up 40 per cent, and sleeker with a 0.28 Cd, which Benz claims is best in class.

The engine range also boasts impressive figures, with up to 20kW more power and 15 per cent more torque than the current generation, while fuel consumption drops an average of six per cent.

The performance King is the CLK 55 AMG, which produces 270kW from its 5.5-litre engine and accelerates from rest to 100km/h in just 5.2 seconds. The CLK500 is also impressive, with 220kW and a 0-100km/h figure of 6.0 seconds.

The CLK320 remains unchanged at 160kW, while the CLK240 is actually a 2.6-litre V6 that generates 125kW.

Inside the cabin, the instrument panel, centre console, door panels and seats are all-new, while standard equipment includes adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, sidebags, windowbags, as well as belt tensioners and belt force limiters on all the seats, Headlamp Assist, a rain sensor and automatic climate control.

The CLK also benefits from high-tech systems first seen in the S-class luxury limousine including Distronic proximity cruise control, Keyless-go entry, bi-xenon headlamps and Linguatronic voice control for the telephone and radio.

The CLK will be part of a rush of new Benz models this year, with the SL convertible in the third quarter, the new E-class in September and the facelifted S-class in December. A CLK convertible is due in around 18 months.

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