by: Mike Ginsca
Just to make it clear, this is NOT a real CLK DTM Street version. Only 80 models exist of that car and unfortunately they are not legal in Canada. So with that being said, how does its little brother feel like to drive? Read on…
Performance – Under the hood of this CLK is a naturally aspirated 5.0L V8 producing 302hp and 339lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately the power of such a massive engine is a bit underwhelming and it doesn’t feel quite as fast as it looks. The upside to Mercedes engines is that they can be considered as “European muscle” because the engines produce more torque rather than outright horsepower like American muscle cars. When you put your foot down, the grunt of the engine pins you to the seat but unfortunately that feeling goes away once the rpms climb higher towards the rev limit due to the lack of horsepower. An extra 50hp at the top end could have made this car much more enjoyable and fun to drive in a straight line.
Through corners the CLK handles quite well. It’s not race car sharp but for a convertible long distance cruiser it is confidence inspiring and asks you to push it a little bit over the edge. There is a lack of feel through the steering wheel compared to its rival from BMW, or even Audi, but neither of those can offer the same level of comfort as the suspension this CLK.
Comfort – Although this particular Mercedes has tires that look like they were painted on the edges of the wheels, the suspension copes very well at absorbing bumps in the road. Every time I saw a big pothole and tried to avoid it but couldn’t, I thought in my head “oh no, this is going to hurt” but it never did. I’m surprised how Mercedes managed to make the car comfortable and have good grip around corners, it’s a characteristic that very few cars have and can perfect.
The Recaro seats are not standard and neither is the carbon fiber trim inside the cabin. But they should have been because the seats hug the hips very well and carbon fiber trim seems to be a big trend these days among sports cars. Yes, the interior does look dated a decade later, but all of the controls are where you’d expect them to be and everything is easy to use.
Odds and Ends – Now to that body kit, it looks spectacular. The only way to tell the difference between this and a real CLK DTM, is to have them side by side and measuring the gaps between the panels and the little accents between the two bodies. It is a flawless and superb looking body kit that turns heads wherever this car goes. It also helps to have a loud exhaust system as well to amplify the noise of the V8 engine.
This car was a roller coaster of a ride with my emotions. When I first saw it I was extremely excited to test drive it but as soon as I found out it was not a real DTM version, I was very let down. However, after driving it, to my surprise I ended up liking this CLK and especially the attention that it got from people on sidewalks and in other cars.
Thank you to Autoform Performance Inc. for providing the car.
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.