Premium sporty/performance car; Built in Germany
  • 2-door convertible
  • 2-door coupe
  • longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $3,200 – $11,500*


1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK coupe


1999 Mercedes-Benz CLK convertible


2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK interior


1999 Mercedes-Benz CLK320 coupe


2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 convertible

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Side airbags
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Cargo room
  • Rear-seat entry/exit
  • Rear-seat room

A comfortable and capable tourer, CLK offers Mercedes prestige and greater refinement, plus style and poise, for about the same money as Volvo’s C70 coupe. High resale value has always been a “plus” for any Mercedes, though that makes secondhand prices high, too.

Overview

A sporty offshoot of Mercedes’ C-Class sedan, the CLK320 put the German automaker’s rear-wheel-drive luxury qualities into a coupe body style. Slightly longer and lower than a C-Class, the CLK got unique styling marked by an oval-lamp nose, like its larger E-Class sedans. A 3.2-liter V6 engine went under the hood, driving a 5-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes’ first V6 engine, it was an overhead-cam unit with three valves per cylinder. ASR traction control and front side airbags were standard. Antilock brakes also were standard, with Mercedes’ “Brake Assist” feature. That system interpreted certain rapid brake-pedal movement as a panic-stop situation and automatically applied full braking force. A new “Smart Key” antitheft ignition system used a coded electronic data link instead of a regular key. The “BabySmart” child-seat recognition system deactivated the passenger-side airbags when a special Mercedes-designed child seat was in place. An antiskid Electronic Stability Program was optional. CLK coupes rode 16-inch tires and had a standard 60/40 split folding rear seat, as well as dual power-forward front seats. A new option was available: rain-sensing wipers that varied the speed of the intermittent sweep. Rivals included the BMW 3-Series, Saab 9-3, and Volvo C70.

Yearly Updates

1999 CLK
A CLK320 convertible joined the original coupe this year, as did a CLK430 coupe with 4.3-liter V8 power. The convertible included a power top, glass rear window, and the same 3.2-liter V6 engine as the CLK320 coupe. The new V8 coupe added Mercedes’ ESP antiskid system (an option for V6 models), as well as bigger brakes, a firm suspension, performance tires on 17-inch wheels (versus the usual 16-inchers), and “aero” lower-body cladding.
2000 CLK
Both body styles–coupe and convertible–were available with the 4.3-liter V8 engine this year. Previously optional on the CLK320, an ESP antiskid system became standard on all models. The 5-speed automatic transmission gained Mercedes’ Touch Shift, with a separate gate for easier manual shifting. Standard equipment included Mercedes’ TeleAid emergency assistance system.
2001 CLK
CLK added a new performance coupe and some electronic features for 2001. The CLK55 AMG limited-edition coupe came with a 342-hp 5.4-liter V8 engine, special trim, larger brakes, stiffer suspension, and special 17-inch wheels. Newly optional was Mercedes’ COMAND system that controlled audio and available navigation and phone functions from a dashboard screen.
2002 CLK
CLK55 coupe was joined by a convertible companion. Newly optional for 320 models was a Sport package with aero bodywork and 17-inch wheels. And CLK430s gained standard aero body trim, light-gray gauges, blue-tinted windows, and new-look alloy wheels. CLK was redesigned for ’03.

Engines

longitudinal front-engine/rear-wheel drive

For its first season, the CLK coupe came only with a 3.2-liter V6 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission. A CLK430 coupe joined the original CLK320 for 1999, packing a 275-horsepower, 4.3-liter V8. New for 2001 was the CLK55 AMG performance coupe with a 5.4-liter V8 engine.

ohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.2/195
Engine HP 215
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 229
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

21/29

21.6

ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 4.3/260
Engine HP 275
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 295
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

18/25

20.2

ohc V8
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 5.4/322
Engine HP 342
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 376
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic

17/24

14.9

Road Test

A CLK320 hit 60 mph in just 7 seconds, and yielded decent 21.6-mpg gas mileage–using the mandatory premium fuel. The CLK430 is slightly sleepy off the line but then rockets ahead, in keeping with Mercedes’ claim of a 6.1-second 0-60 time. That one averaged 20.2 mpg. We haven’t timed a 430 or CLK55, but in test drives, both seem up to Mercedes’ 0-60 claims of 6.1 and around 5 sec, respectively. Mercedes-Benz’s 5-speed automatic transmission has a gear for just about every situation, and shifts with smooth authority.

Braking is superb: swift and undramatic. Handling is responsive and stable, cornering response flat, though the CLK is not quite as agile as a BMW 3-Series. A firm but mostly comfortable ride lets you feel most bumps, but not really harsh impacts. That benefit is spoiled, however, by thumping over expansion joints and tire rumble on rough pavements. Road roar is noticeable, especially from the rear tires. Wind and mechanical ruckus are well-checked. Both engines emit a pleasing, subdued snarl under hard throttle.

Front occupants get decent room, but the feeling is snug rather than spacious. Expect skimpy rear-seat leg room and tight rear-seat entry/exit, at least for adults, despite front seats that power forward after tilting their backrests. The rear seat is configured for two occupants only, and leg space vanishes with the front seat positioned fully aft. Front head room is just adequate for 6-footers, and head space in back is scant except for preteens. Cargo space isn’t great either.

The wheel only telescopes (no tilt), and several switches are poorly marked or placed. Over-the-shoulder views are not the best, but visibility is generally good. Controls are handy and user-friendly, once you’ve deciphered a few markings. Cabin decor is more clinical than cushy, not uncommon for Mercedes, though workmanship is generally fine inside and out. Mercedes-Benz took great pains to make its convertible solid, and succeeded admirably.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2001 Mercedes-Benz CLK320

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 7
70%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 6
60%
Steering/Handling - 6
60%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 2
20%
Cargo Room - 2
20%

Other

Value - 3
30%

Total: 47

Specifications

2-door convertible
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
105.9 180.2 67.8 54.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
9.9 16.4 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
37.5 36.4 41.9 27.4
2-door coupe
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
105.9 180.2 67.8 53.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.0 16.4 4
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
36.9 35.6 41.9 31.1
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 CLK 2-door coupe

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 147
Injury 78
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Dashboard lights
Description: The check-engine light may come on due to a failure of the fuel-tank pressure sensor or gasoline-vapor purge-control valve. (1998)
Starter
Description: The starter stops running before the engine is running due to lack of grease on the starter drive gear. (1998)

Recall History

1999 CLK320
Description: Due to defective weld, anchorages may not adequately secure front seatbelts in a crash.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.