With its sleek new shape and larger body, the 2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class gains a slightly more upscale presence. The CLK-Class is a midrange line of midsize coupes and soft-top convertibles. More luxurious than Mercedes’ entry-level C-Class but without the enormous presence of the CL-Class, CLK models appeal to buyers looking for a composed and comfortable ride without the painful price.
Body Styles: coupe, convertible
Engines: 3.2-liter V-6, 4.3-liter V-8, 5.0-liter V-8, 5.5-liter V-8
Transmissions: five-speed shiftable automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz CLK320, Mercedes CLK320 Cabriolet, Mercedes-Benz CLK430 Cabriolet, Mercedes-Benz CLK500, Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG
The 2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class gets a subtle redesign, including a larger and taller body, a stiffer frame, and a more commanding grille reminiscent of Mercedes’ upscale CL-Class. B-pillars have been eliminated, granting the side windows a sleeker appearance. New options include keyless ignition, bi-xenon headlamps, and parking sensors.
Much like the upscale CL-Class, 2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class models feature a sporty forward-leaning stance and a sleek design with narrow windows. Cabriolet versions get a power-operated soft-top convertible roof available in gray, blue, and black.
Base CLK320 models come standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, all-season tires, green-tinted glass, intermittent windshield wipers, a rear defogger, and, in coupes, cargo tie-downs. The CLK430 Cabriolet and CLK500 coupe add 17-inch wheels and Z performance tires, while the CLK500 alone gets blue-tinted glass, bigger brakes, and AMG design elements. In addition to its larger engine and brakes, the CLK55 AMG gains a rear spoiler and power glass sunroof. A CLK320 Appearance Package upgrades lower-level trims with a chrome exhaust and sportier tires.
Now 1.5 inches taller and 2.7 inches longer than the 2002 version, the 2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class provides more breathing room for all four occupants, though rear-passenger legroom is still on the tight side. With the exception of the aluminum-trimmed AMG, CLK-Class models feature a combination of leather and wood interior trim.
CLK320, CLK430, and CLK500 models share most interior amenities, including standard leather upholstery, 10-way power-adjustable bucket front seats, front-seat adjustable lumbar support, memory settings for three drivers, a split-folding rear seat back with easy-entry feature, a folding center armrest with storage, a leather tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, power locks, power windows, power mirrors, a reverse-tilt passenger-side mirror with curb view, cruise control, a universal remote transmitter, dual-zone climate control, active charcoal air filtration, illuminating vanity mirrors, a trip computer, an external temperature display, phone pre-wiring, a TeleAid emergency communications service, and an eight-speaker CD-controlled Bose sound system.
The CLK55 AMG adds sport front seats, a steering wheel with both transmission and audio controls, and alloy trim in place of wood trim. CLK320 models can be upgraded with a sport shift knob, alloy trim, and aluminum pedal trim, while the CLK500 is eligible for a two-tone leather upholstery package.
Front passengers receive 37.1 inches of headroom and 42.0 inches of legroom, while rear occupants are given 36.5 inches of headroom and 27.4 inches of legroom. Trunk space has also been expanded to 10.4 cubic feet in coupes and 9.4 cubic feet in convertibles thanks to the split-folding back seat.
Performance & Handling
The 2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class offers four engines, starting with a 3.2-liter, 215-hp V-6 that powers the CLK320. The CLK430 gets a 4.3-liter, 275-horsepower V-8, while the CLK500 comes with a five-liter, 302-horse V-8. The CLK55 AMG is motivated by a range-topping 5.5-liter V-8 pumping out 362 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. All engines are matched to Mercedes’ five-speed TouchShift automatic transmission, which allows drivers to make quick manual gear changes.
While not as sharp as a sports car, the CLK’s handling and steering are precise. A solid build minimizes body roll and wind intrusion in both convertibles and coupes, though some engine noise is inevitable in the high-powered AMG.
Standard safety equipment on 2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class models includes front and rear head airbags, dual front and rear head airbags, antilock brakes, emergency braking assist, electronic brake force distribution, dusk-sensing headlamps, stability control, and traction control.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz CLK320: 17/24 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz CLK320 Cabriolet: 17/25 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz CLK430 Cabriolet: 16/22 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz CLK500: 15/21 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG: 14/20 mpg city/highway
- Sleek lines
- Comfortable cabin
- Refined ride
You Won't Like
- Cramped rear seat
- Limited visibility
- Some cheap-feeling trim
Upscale coupes and convertibles offer solid style and performance.
If You Like This Vehicle
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