Full 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class Review
What's New for 2007
The big changes for 2007 are under the hood of the V8 models. The CLK500 becomes the CLK550 via a larger V8. It delivers 382 horsepower, a full 80 more hp than last year. Similarly, the AMG version of the CLK convertible gets more muscle-bound, becoming the CLK63 and boasting 475 hp, a 113-hp increase. In less exciting news, the V6 version, the CLK350, gets a new optional Sports Appearance package.
Although it's something of a middle child, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class doesn't give much, if anything, away in terms of luxury and performance to the more senior cars in this prestigious marque's lineup. Available in both hardtop and convertible ("Cabriolet") forms, the midsize CLK is more stylish than its sedan relatives, yet roomier than Mercedes' SL-Class and more accessible in price than the high-dollar CL-Class.
The CLK-Class received a makeover a few years ago that saw a sleek, crouching tiger of a car replace the previous, somewhat pudgy first-generation version. By having front-end styling that looks similar to the SL's along with an exotic, wedge-like profile, the CLK looks as if it could cost considerably more than its actual MSRP.
The coupe's profile is also distinctive due to its lack of a B-pillar, which normally resides between the side windows. As a result, the CLK coupe has an airy cabin whether the windows are up or down. And although more and more premium-brand convertibles are adopting a retracting-hardtop design, the CLK Cabriolet sticks with the tried-and-true conventional soft top. In fairness, the cabriolet's top is well insulated and fairly quiet when raised.
For 2007, Mercedes-Benz has introduced more powerful V8 engines. The "standard" V8 model, formerly the CLK500, is now called the CLK550. The number change indicates the presence of a larger, 5.5-liter V8 that makes an impressive 382 hp, 80 more than last year's engine. The AMG version (available in Cabriolet form only) also sees a big jump in output. With a naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8, the CLK63 makes an astounding 475 hp.
With a lineup that ranges from the entry-level 268-hp CLK350 to the mighty 475-hp CLK63, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class is going to appeal to a wide range of potential buyers. In our opinion, those considering the CLK350 should also look at the new BMW 335i coupe. With its sportier chassis tuning and the availability of a manual transmission, that Bimmer would be a more logical (and less costly) choice for the serious driving enthusiast.
Those who value luxury and performance equally, however, should be impressed with the newly invigorated CLK550. That said, the Audi S4 also deserves strong consideration considering its all-weather capabilities and lower price tag. With its invigorating performance, the CLK63 AMG is a thrilling ride for four. It's also less expensive than its closest competitor, the BMW M6 convertible, though the latter does ultimately provide a more entertaining driving experience.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLK comes in coupe and convertible ("Cabriolet") forms. Coupes are available as either the V6-powered CLK350 or the V8-powered CLK550. Standard on both are 10-way power front seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system and a power-adjustable tilt/telescoping steering wheel. The CLK550 adds paddle shifters for the automatic transmission and an AMG-style body kit (meaning lower body skirting, a rear deck lid spoiler and chrome exhaust outlets). Options include a Sport Appearance package for the CLK350 that's more hardware than eye candy, as it includes a lowered sport suspension and upgraded brakes in addition to 10-spoke wheels. Other available features include a navigation system, bi-xenon adaptive headlights, run-flat tires, a Harman Kardon Logic 7 sound system with a glovebox-mounted CD changer, satellite radio, rear parking sensors and Keyless Go, which allows the car to be started without a key. There are also the "designo" editions, which feature special silver or graphite paint with unique interior treatments.
The CLK350 and CLK550 Cabriolets' standard and optional equipment levels essentially mirror those of the coupes. The CLK63 AMG Cabriolet adds heated sport seats, aluminum accents and the Logic 7 audio system with Sirius Satellite Radio. Options for the CLK63 include Keyless Go, the navigation system, bi-xenon adaptive headlights and front/rear park assist.
Powertrains and Performance
The CLK350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 (268 hp), while the CLK550 upgrades to a 5.5-liter V8 (382 hp). Acceleration is quick either way, with 0-60-mph times of 6.4 and 5.1 seconds for the CLK350 and CLK550 coupes, respectively. The CLK63 Cabriolet is supercar quick -- its 6.2-liter, 475-hp V8 can catapult it to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds. All CLKs come with a seven-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually if desired; V8 models feature gearshift paddles to do the latter.
Stability control, antilock disc brakes with brake assist, active front head restraints, front side airbags and front-and-rear side curtain airbags (on coupes) are standard. Rear side airbags on convertibles are optional (standard on the CLK63 AMG), and pop-up roll bars behind the rear seats that deploy in a roll-over are standard.
Interior Design and Special Features
For the most part, the CLK's cabin is appropriately sumptuous, with plenty of leather, wood and elegant chrome. Still, some of the plastic trim on the upper door panels seems low-grade for this class of automobile. Buckling up for the front occupants is eased considerably via automatic seatbelt "presenters" that offer the belts after the doors are shut. Other conveniences include an easy-entry system that powers the front seats forward and up, making it easier to get in back. Also, in the coupe, the rear seats fold down completely, providing a flat load floor that allows long items to be carried inside the car. The convertible features large side windows and a relatively slim roof design for good top-up visibility, and the top can be quickly lowered or raised simply by pressing a button on the key fob.
While not as athletic as the two-seat SLK, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLK feels more nimble than the larger CL-Class. The CLK350 offers confident, stable handling, though serious enthusiasts are apt to prefer the sharper reflexes of the less expensive BMW 3 Series coupe. The V8-powered CLK550 provides an even more enticing combination of performance and sophistication, rewarding the well-to-do driver with downright vigorous acceleration and equally composed road manners. The CLK63 has prodigious capabilities, but its super personality is marred by the steering, which feels lackluster compared to the rest of the car.