Reader test: Mercedes-Benz CLK500
Martin de Villiers, Roodepoort
Approaching the two-door coupe with its classy, yet sporty, appearance it is hard to believe this design dates back more than five years.
From every angle it is apparent why it was such a looker in 2004 and still is today. Sure, there are many more edgy and sporty shapes from this brand and others, but this one is still very easy on the eye.
Using the key to lower all the windows and open the sunroof at the same time, gives something of the same effect as lowering the roof on a convertible.
Inside the story is the same, hard to guess this design is actually quite dated. The look and feel is of quality. The functionality soon becomes obvious when you use one of the many luxuries inside. Everything is in the right place and shows why Mercedes has always been at the forefront of comfort.
To be honest, they invented most of these interior features. A case in point: Close the door, switch on the ignition and you are welcomed with your seatbelt being pushed right up to your shoulder for easy access.
Now, strap in and start up the 5.0-litre V8. It springs to life, purring smoothly, almost unheard under the bonnet. Blip the throttle and it tells the tuned ear a little about what lies beneath. (The reason for opening all the windows before getting in!). Slide the seven speed auto into "D" and off we go.
To race? Or to swoosh?
With the auto setting on "S" it will rev a bit higher and also pull away in first gear. Should you want a more relaxed ride, the "C" setting will pull away in 2nd gear and will change over lower down the rev range for each gear change. This setting is also handy in snow and when you want less wheel spin, but in snowless South Africa we can refer to it as "C"omfort.
Down the road, at the first green light I floor it - and boy does it go! (Once the traction control has played its part). The acceleration is continuous and gear changes are almost undetectable.
Too quickly I reach 160 km/h and have to take my foot off the pedal. The 225 kW and 460 Nm do their job with aplomb. According to earlier tests, it does 0-100 in 6.2 seconds. Not slow, by any means, then. The purpose of this model though, is not rocketing from robot to robot. This one is for cruising to Cape Town ... and back!
Made for cruising
This car will swoosh you anywhere without breaking a sweat. Along the way you can embarrass a few hot hatches or even a Boxster or two. Alternatively, drop all the frameless windows and you have a fresh open-air experience for cruising in town.
This model has all the kit you can imagine; integrated navigation, Harmon Kardon surround sound, electric heated seats with memory, seven airbags, park distance control, xenons, the list goes on...
Being swooshed from A to B effortlessly and having that power available and hearing the (somewhat discreet) throb of the V8 is pretty much the story for the last 15 000 trouble free kilometres in my CLK.
Verdict: If you are in the market for a good quality, fast, very comfortable second-hand coupe (most of these on the market will be packed with extras), you can do a lot worse than getting a Merc CLK.
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