2001 CLK-Class New Car Test Drive
Mercedes-Benz's CLK-Class cars combine luxury, power and performance with graceful looks and innovative technology. Lean and quick, they perform flawlessly.
For 2001, a sophisticated hot rod has been added to the top of model line by AMG, Mercedes' high-performance car-building partner and the group that builds and campaigns the sports racing cars. The CLK couldn't have been a better platform for this treatment. Considering the CLK's beauty, balance and size (16.4 overall inches shorter and nearly 800 pounds lighter than a comparable CL-Class), an AMG version begged to be built. Give it the best V8 AMG can build, add superb handling, great brakes and magical electronic driving assists, and you have the quickest roadgoing Mercedes ever built. The fact that the CLK55 AMG is the Formula 1 racing series' safety car is more than symbolic. It takes a lot of speed and style to look great leading a field of F1 cars around a track, and this car has what it takes.
On the other hand, no one truly needs more power than the smooth, highly efficient 3.2-liter V6 that comes in the CLK320 models. And for most of us the powerful 4.3-liter V8 found in the CLK430 is more than plenty.
Since its launch three years ago, the Mercedes CLK-Class has grown to include a total of five models -- three coupes and two convertibles: the original CLK320, the elegant CLK320 Cabriolet, the V8-powered CLK430 coupe, the CLK430 Cabriolet, and the new CLK55 AMG supercoupe.
For 2001, the CLK55 AMG is the story. The only new CLK is the hottest. It boasts a 5.5-liter V8 built and hand-assembled by AMG, producing 342 horsepower and a humongous 376 foot-pounds of torque. Base price is $67,400.
The CLK320 Coupe ($41,950) is powered by a lightweight and sophisticated 3.2-liter sohc V6, delivering 215 hp and 229 lb.-ft. of torque. Like all CLKs, it comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, which makes for a superb combination. The CLK320 delivers excellent response around town and smooth high-speed cruising.
The CLK430 Coupe ($49,650) ups the ante with a 275-horsepower 4.3-liter V8; it's basically the V6 with two more cylinders. It's equipped with a Sport Package including suspension by AMG, although it's not the same as the CLK55.
CLK320 Cabriolet ($48,900) and CLK430 Cabriolet ($56,500) offer upscale, top-down motoring.