A Brief Look at the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class
The Evolution of the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class
Ever since Karl Benz patented his first internal combustion engine in 1879, Mercedes-Benz cemented themselves as one of the leaders in the automotive industry. The CLK-Class vehicle has a long and illustrious history, dating back to its inception in the late 1990s. In this article, we’ll explore the evolution of the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class, including all generations and variations.
The First Generation: 1996-2002
The first generation of the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class was introduced in 1996, modelled after the W202 C-Class platform. The initial lineup consisted of the CLK 200, CLK 230 Kompressor, CLK 320, and CLK 430 models.
The CLK 200 and CLK 230 Kompressor were powered by a 2.0-liter and 2.3-liter engine, respectively, and produced 134 and 192 horsepower, respectively. The CLK 320 boasted a 3.2-liter V6 engine with a power output of 215 horsepower, and the CLK 430 featured a 4.3-liter V8 engine that delivered 275 horsepower.
While the first generation of the CLK-Class featured a largely similar body style to the C-Class, it did have design differences to set it apart. The CLK-Class had a more rounded rear, and the headlights were positioned differently. The interior, meanwhile, featured more luxury upgrades, such as leather trim and a well-crafted instrument panel.
During this era, the CLK-Class was well received by the public, praised for its sleek design, excellent performance and well-engineered build.
The Second Generation: 2002-2009
The second generation of the CLK-Class was introduced in 2002, and it served as the first new car to get Mercedes-Benz’s styling update since the previous decade’s launch of their iconic C-Class.
The CLK-Class improved upon its predecessor in countless ways. One of the key upgrades was in the transmission department, as the new model came equipped with a 7-speed automatic transmission. The new lineup included the CLK 240 (later replaced by the CLK 280), CLK 320, and CLK 500 models. The CLK 240/280 produced 170 and 231 horsepower, respectively, while the CLK 320 and CLK 500 had outputs of 215 and 302 horsepower, respectively.
The second generation was also the first to feature a convertible version of the CLK-Class, which became a staple for the lineup in the following years.
When it came to sportier modifications, the CLK 63 AMG was the most impressive model of this generation, featuring a 6.2-liter V8 engine that produced a whopping 474 horsepower.
The Third Generation: 2009-2010
The third generation of the CLK-Class was a short-lived one, produced only from 2009 to 2010. Design-wise, the car boasted sleeker lines and a more tapered frame. It also came with updated features, such as a more streamlined dashboard, redesigned side wings, and a better body to engine power ratio.
The full model range included a coupe and convertible option, in the form of the CLK 350, CLK 500 and CLK 63 AMG versions. The CLK 350 was powered by a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produced 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The CLK 500 model, meanwhile, was equipped with a 5.5-liter V8 engine, which produced 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. The CLK 63 AMG retained its 6.2-liter V8 engine, but this time with an output of 507 horsepower.
The Fourth Generation: 2010-2019
The fourth generation of the CLK-Class was rebranded as the E-Class Coupe. This update saw numerous advancements, including a 4-wheel multilink suspension, which provided a more comfortable ride.
The fourth-generation E-Class Coupe had design departures, such as increased body length and reduced height. It also sported an aggressive and aerodynamic front end, with a well-rounded rear design.
The E-Class Coupe launched with four engine options: the E 220 CDI model, powered by a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower output; the E 350 model, powered by a V6 engine that delivered 302 horsepower; the E 500 model, which produced a top power output of 408 horsepower under the hood, thanks to its V8 engine; and finally, the high-performance E 63 AMG which was fitted with a V8 engine that churned out 518 horsepower.
The Fifth Generation: 2020-present
The current generation of the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet was launched in 2020, and carries the C 238 and A 238 internal model codes, respectively. This update is regarded as one of the biggest since the series was launched in 1996, featuring advanced driver assistance features and a digital instrument panel. There is a refreshed exterior as well, with a redesigned grille, rear bumper and headlamps.
The latest models come with three engines; the E 200 model, which packs a 2.0-liter engine with 197 horsepower output; the E 350 model, which boasts a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4 engine, capable of producing up to 299 horsepower; and lastly, the powerhouse of the series, the top-of-the-line AMG E53 model, equipped with a robust 3.0-liter turbocharged engine and making 429 horsepower.
Since its inception in the late 1990s, the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class has undergone numerous updates and improvements. Every iteration of the car has brought new designs and features, making it a favourite among luxury vehicle enthusiasts. Although now rebranded as the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet, the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class remains a renowned series in the brand’s lineup. From its early beginnings to its current form, the CLK-Class’s evolution showcases Mercedes-Benz’s commitment to quality and innovation.