Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The AMG version of the CLK was originally launched with a 5.4-litre V8 (actually badged 55). Although it lacks the supercharger fitted to the most powerful Mercedes models, it has more than adequate performance with a 0-62mph time of just 5.0 seconds. The later CLK63 Coupe and Cabriolet pack a 6.2-litre high-revving V8 engine. It's doesn't look much faster on paper, with the same, limited top speed and a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds, but with 30 percent extra power, it's significantly more rapid on the road.

The seven speed auto shifts super-smoothly on the move, but such is the power of the engine, it simply isn't possible to floor the accelerator and expect a clean getaway. No matter how dry the road, the back wheels cannot transmit maximum power in first gear without the ESP system needing to interrupt while low speed kick-downs bring a thump of acceleration.

The suspension is quite firm (although not as extreme as an Audi RS4), giving a composed, sporting ride on smooth tarmac. Its natural environment is the fast lane and clear stretches of open road where it eats up miles effortlessly. It's not really suitable for tackling twisting, bumpy roads, especially in convertible form when tremors through the bodywork add to the burden on the back wheels, preventing it from finding the grip and composure to make fast progress.

The big brakes feel more than up to the job of slowing the CLK's considerable weight though.