This Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG was kindly provided by- and is for sale through- Road and Race Automotive.
There is an unwritten rule in petrol head circles. V8’s are cool. Some of us like V12’s others are into flat 6’s, or V10’s or 4-bangers. But ALL of us love V8’s. There’s just something about the sound of an old-school cross-plane crank V8 that makes our hearts pump unleaded. Unfortunately, these days, very few car makers still have the bottle to stand up to the greenies. Very few are still building cars that proudly burn loads of petrol for the sake of making lots of noise and many powers of horse.
that AMG engine was SO good, I had to have it.
Until recently, the guys over at Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division have catered to this need beautifully. Their engines make all the right noises and bring all the ponies. In fact their engines are so good that I myself bought an AMG V8 a few years ago. A car I didn’t really care for, but just because that engine was SO good, I had to have it. It has been a while since I’ve driven an AMG Merc though, so I was very happy to be handed the keys to this silver bullet. A 2007 Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG.
From the outside, this shape of CLK comes from an era when the E-Class based coupe was still a beautifully elegant shape. It has great lines from every angle and unlike the E-Class Coupe that replaced it, it doesn’t look strangely proportioned when converted to 2 door. The 4 exhaust tips and sporty bumper at the rear makes the car look very purposeful from the back. At the front the AMG bumper adds an element of aggression to the normally classy look of the CLK’s nose. From the side, the subtle side-skirts, bigger wheels and MASSIVE brake callipers give away its performance potential.
quality of the interior is second to none.
Inside the AMG adds nicely sculpted sports seats and a few metal details as well as being fully loaded with all the toys. The design is perhaps showing its age a little bit by now, but the quality of the interior is second to none. If you didn’t glance at the odometer, this interior would never give away the car’s mileage. On the move, there are also no rattles or squeeks and everything still works 100%.
The big V8 fires into life and settles to a nice deep burble. It’s never loud, but always audible, and sounds perfect. In normal/ comfort mode, the gearbox will always pull away in second gear and makes for ultra-smooth progress. The engine is actually very civilised and smooth, and has incredible torque from any RPM’s. The ride is very comfortable and I can easily imagine myself spending hours on highways and country roads. Simply dispatching landscapes and scenery in the blink of an eye.
the way the AMG gathers pace is best described as relentless.
When taking on a more challenging road, at first the big AMG did slightly disappoint. I switched the gearbox to sport mode and gearshifts become noticeably quicker and more aggressive. The car will also now pull away from a stop in first gear. Acceleration is exactly what you expect. It pulls like a train and the way it gathers pace is best described as relentless. The noise goes from a gentle burble to a Nascar like roar. The power is addictive. However, dynamically, this is not a sportscar.
In fairness, I had just jumped out of an Ariel Atom into this CLK, but even so, you could tell this is a big heavy car. The suspension does a very good job of soaking up bumps and controlling the mass of the car, but does not provide a lot of feedback to the driver. The brakes are fantastic, and really slow the car down well. However, the steering is a little too relaxed and doesn’t really tell you much through the helm. In the twisties the CLK comes across as a muscle car, ferociously powerful, but a little wallowy and difficult to place accurately at speed.
A mileage munching Grand Tourer
So is this the same as my old SLK 55 AMG? A fantastic engine attached to a car that is dynamically a little disappointing? Well, no actually. Once the hard-core thrill of the Ariel Atom had faded in my mind a little, the CLK started to make sense. This isn’t a sportscar and shouldn’t be reviewed as one. What this is, is a gentleman’s express. A mileage munching Grand Tourer, that can get you from here, to there very quickly, in absolute comfort.
It has sporting pretentions and you can plough it through some mountain passes on your journey, but where this car really excels is in making every boring journey more interesting and more fun. That power allows you to overtake just about anything in the smallest of gaps. The comfortable suspension means you can get where you’re going without being tired and battered. You can hear the engine, but it won’t deafen you, so you can be excited by the V8 soundtrack and still have a conversation inside.
Most sportscars are great at twisty roads, but are simply too tiring and too much hard work to drive on a daily basis. What makes the AMG so great is that it gives you almost all the thrills of a proper sportscar, but you can really drive this every day. It’s comfortable, easy to drive, practical, well built and very reliable.
ultimate in luxury is having all the power and not using it.
I absolutely get the CLK now. It is such a nice car to just cruise around in at sensible speeds – after all, the ultimate in luxury is having all the power in the world and not using it. Dawdling about with the engine barely ticking over. But what makes the CLK such a great car is that even though it is so good at being the luxurious cruiser, it can also be a complete animal when you DO decide to use that power.
The setup is perfectly judged for the kind of driving you will be doing the majority of the time, with just enough compromise to make it still fun to drive should the mood take you. It may not be the best sportscar you can buy, but it is absolutely one of the best all-rounders I’ve ever driven.