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Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet engines, drive and performance

2003 - 2009 (change model)
Performance rating: 4 out of 54.0

Written by David Ross Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

The entry-level engine in the convertible range is badged 200 Kompressor, but is actually a supercharged 1.8-litre with 184bhp. It manages 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds and feels livelier than the 2.6-litre CLK240, although economy isn’t great at 33mpg. The CLK320 model offers suitably effortless performance but top of the range (aside from the AMG models) is the 500 model which actually uses a 5.5-litre V8 engine with 388bhp.

It sounds great and races from 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds, but is far from frugal with an average economy figure of just 24mpg. Changes in 2005 resulted in two new six-cylinder engines to replace the CLK 320. The CLK 280 matches the CLK 320 for performance while the CLK 350 bridges the gap between the smaller six-cylinder car and the V8s with 272bhp and a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds.

The biggest surprise is the lack of diesels in the range. Alternatives like the Audi A4 Cabriolet and BMW 3-Series Convertible both offer diesels.

The CLK is a great long-distance cruiser, but not as nimble as a BMW 3-Series coupe. Don’t be put off though – the rear-wheel drive handling characteristics allow for precise steering with good feedback, but if you’re in the higher power models watch out for that back end on wet roads – it can easily break away without much provocation. Luckily an electronic stability programme is standard.

Ride comfort is excellent and on the motorway the CLK is a great car to soak up the miles in.