Mercedes-Benz CLK Coupe 2002 - 2005

Mercedes-Benz CLK Coupe 2002 - 2005

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • Is a stylish car
  • Has a good level of practicality
  • Is a joy to drive


  • Maintenance costs are high


The CLK is a desirable car and comes high on many people wish lists thanks to its four seats, which can actually seat four people, and its powerful engines. The build quality is rock solid with superb handling, which is partly due to its strong chassis and rear wheel drive. However, in wet weather the more powerful engines do tend to kick out a little if they are pushed too hard. There is the choice of either a coupe or cabriolet version with the cabriolet being just as good with the body still feeling strong and taught in the corners and with minimum wind buffeting when the roof is down. The only down side to the cabriolet is the lack of diesel engines despite there being three available in the coupe.

Exterior and Interior

The CLK was built more for comfort rather than speed and this can be seen and felt when inside the cabin. Although it is a four seater, the back seats are mainly for children as there is limited space and anyone over six foot would struggle to sit comfortably. The front comes with plenty of room though and even though there isn't much room in the back all the seats are comfortable. It is fairly easy to get into the back seats despite it being a two door as the doors are fairly long. Once you're sitting in the front seats Mercedes have added a little gadget so that you don't have to reach back and get your seatbelt as an electronic arm reaches forwards from behind you to hand it to you, which is a very nice touch. The boot space is a good size at 381litres in the coupe and 276litres in the cabriolet, which isn't too bad for a convertible and is partially due to the roof being fabric and not metal. The back seats can also be folded down to increase the load area if needed. The CLK came with lots of equipment as you would expect from Mercedes, however, earlier models came with a cassette player as standard and any extras such as sat-nav or leather upholstery came at a high price. The materials are of very high quality and you shouldn't need to worry about any of it falling off anytime soon if ever.

Performance and Economy

The engines in the CLK are all impressive, but it can be hard to choose which one to buy as there are 10 engines on the second hand market. The 1.8-litre offers the best fuel efficiency out of the petrol engines with 33mpg and is a lot better to drive than the CLK240. The CLK320 was replaced in 2005 by the CLK280 and CLK350, which are both more powerful with 227bhp and 268bhp and have better fuel efficiency managing 29mpg and 28mpg respectively. The CLK500 is a great car racing from 0-60mph in just 5.8 seconds thanks to its 306bhp, but it's not very frugal when it comes to fuel efficiency managing, at best, just 24mpg. The range topping CLK55 AMG is the most exhilarating to drive propelling you from 0-60mph in 5 seconds flat, but like the CLK500 isn't great on fuel efficiency barely managing 23mpg, but you will be unlikely to get anywhere near this. The three diesel engines are very impressive with the CLK270 being phased out in 2005 and replaced by the CLK220 and the CLK320. The CLK220 is by far the most fuel efficient at 43mpg and isn't that slow either at 9.9 seconds from 0-60mph. The CLK320 is the more popular though even though it doesn't compare to the smaller engine for fuel efficiency, only managing 36mpg, but this is more than any of the petrol's. This is due to the sheer power of it with 220bhp and its low pulling power which gets it from 0-60mph in just 6.7 seconds. Both the manual and automatic gearboxes are exceptionally smooth but the automatic makes driving around town a lot easier and less stressful. The entry level models fall into the group 16 for their insurance. On the other hand, the top of the range AMG falls into group 20.

Like to Drive

The CLK is a joy to drive with the rear wheel drive keeping you firmly planted on the road and allowinf the front wheels to deliver precise steering. It's more of a long distance cruiser than a car made for country lanes, but the hard chassis does remain tight even when on bumpy and twisty roads. You are also well cocooned from any wind and road noise with almost none being heard even in the cabriolet. The original CLK270 diesel engine was loud though and the noise carried through to the cabin. The second generation of diesel engines was more refined and reduced most of the noise.

Faults and Repairs

There have been few issues reported with the coupe but the Cabriolet is more unreliable. For instance, the build quality of the car is poor. The most common problem being loose accessories in the cabin trim which has been the major issue reported by most owners. Malfunctions related to electrics have also been a common problem with the affected parts ranging from the lights to the boot release. The repair and service costs are expensive and depending on your driving style, you may need to have more services than other drivers which will be shown though the CLK's service indicator.