2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK Class Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Paul Wiley Cockerham Paul Wiley Cockerham Editor
November 12, 2001

2001 BMW M3 Convertible by Dan Carney (8/13/2001)
2001 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 Cabriolet by Marty Padgett (5/28/2001)
2001 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 by Marty Padgett (10/2/2000)
You review the '02 CLKL55 Cabrio


The laws of kinetics tell us that a body in motion tends to remain in motion, and this will certainly apply to your body once you plant it behind the wheel of the CLK55 AMG Cabriolet. Exhaustion of stamina and fuel could be the only things that will pry your throttle foot away from Mercedes-Benz’ latest Teutonic stormer.

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If benchmark performance, user-friendliness, and the sun in your face are prime motivators in your automotive purchasing, this could be the most desirable roadster available.

But perhaps you should first ask yourself just how much do you value the Cabriolet over the Coupe that it’s based on. (Oh, to have that problem….) That lovely, snug, retractable top and its unique (from the A-pillar back) body panels impose a $10,000 premium and a 360-lb weight penalty. In terms of straight-line acceleration, the 5.9 seconds Mercedes says it takes for the CLK55 AMG Cabriolet to get to 60 mph is a full second slower than the Coupe’s time. It’s those laws of kinetics again.

Still, if the Cabriolet is a bit more leisurely in getting up to its governed 155-mph top speed, it does so in linear fashion, thanks to the engine’s dual-resonance intake manifold. Like the Coupe, the Cabriolet’s peak 376 lb-ft of torque are available from 3000 to 4300 rpm; slap the Touch Shift driver-adaptive electronic five-speed into third or fourth and you, too, can be King of the Twisties. To handle the engine’s prodigious torque output, the CLK55 AMG Cabriolet also comes with an extremely strong, 110mm-diameter (4.33-inch), four-bolt driveshaft.

The microprocessors in this automatic quickly learn your particular quirks, networking with engine management and suspension feedback, and you don’t really miss not having a manual shifter. M-B says it lacked in-house manual clutch bits to handle the torque generated by AMG’s tweaked 5.5-liter V-8; methinks a query to American colleagues at the House of Viper would have remedied that situation.

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