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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Classy, with the practicality of a coupe. Drives just as well as it looks

Against The maintenance bills are as high as you'd expect on a Mercedes

Verdict The CLK is a practical convertible, but it's not as reliable as Mercedes of old

Go for… V6 autos

Avoid… Four cylinder manuals

Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet
  • 1. There's a good selection of engines, but the V6s are the most sensible to buy
  • 2. Build quality is not great, and small items of cabin trim often come loose
  • 3. There are occasional problems with the seats, so check that everything works as it should
  • 4. As with any Mercedes, it makes most sense to stick to models with an automtic gearbox
  • 5. With the roof up, the car's refined, but it's a bit blustery in the back with it down
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Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet full review with expert trade views

They don't come much classier than the CLK Cabriolet. It's the sensible choice for those who want the practicality of four seats and the ability to cruise the Cote d'Azur in style.

However, this car does more than just look good. The rock-solid chassis stays taut over bumps and around bends, delivering a satisfying drive. There's a good selection of engines, ranging from the entry-level four-cylinder unit to the competent V6s and powerful V8s.

There's enough room to comfortably seat four adults, even with the fabric hood up. It's a bit blustery in the back with the roof down, but with it up you could almost think you're in a hard-top. The boot is big enough for this style of car.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Good looks. Auto is a must. Convertible is favourite. Girls' car

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The wide range of engines has been modified since the car's introduction in 2004. There's an entry-level 2.0-litre Kompressor (supercharged) engine, two V6s and a V8. For those with a need for real speed, the 376bhp 55 AMG should do the job.

Unlike the CLK coupe, there is no diesel option, and automatic gearboxes are standard on all the models except the two lowest-trimmed cars in the range.

Four-cylinder Mercedes are generally not good news on the second-hand market, so opting for one of the V6s means you're protecting your investment and will enjoy the engine as it serenades you on faster roads. It also guarantees you an auto gearbox - another essential.

Equipment levels mirror those of the CLK coupe, so all models have alloy wheels, climate control and a CD player, as well as a remote-controlled fabric roof.

Dealers tend to have the best examples, usually in pristine condition.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Rock-solid values but has to be automatic and Elegance spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The CLK cabriolet is desirable, so used prices remain high, especially as most cars tend to be well looked after. While this means you'll pay more when you buy, you shouldn't lose too much in depreciation when you sell.

In almost every other respect, a CLK will be dear to run. Maintaining a Mercedes is never cheap, for a start, so you can expect large bills, even though the car has a service indicator, varying the service intervals depending on your driving style. You could use independent specialists for servicing, which should save you 50%, but the lack of a franchised dealer service history might cost you when selling.

Owners in the last JD Power Survey also highlighted the high cost of insuring a CLK. Entry-level models have an insurance rating of 16, which rises to 20 for the AMG.

Fuel consumption may also be a concern - you could manage as little as 23mpg on the most powerful examples, although you can get more than 30mpg on the smallest. The V6s manage around 28mpg.

Trade view

Kurtis Williams

Good looks. Auto is a must. Convertible is favourite. Girls' car

Kurtis Williams
Buyer,
Lex Vehicle Leasing

The Cabriolet is not inherently unreliable but, as on the coupe, there have been some issues.

Build quality is not great, for example, and, in particular, small items of cabin trim coming loose seem common. This was one of the major problems highlighted by owners in the JD Power Survey.

Replacement parts are expensive, too, so be careful if your car is out of warranty. Electric gremlins have also been reported, affecting everything from the lights to the boot release, so don't buy a car unless they all work.

Likewise, the seats can be problematic, so check that all the adjustments work as they should. There have also been cases of the hood mechanism needing to be replaced - a tricky and time-consuming job. Luckily, these seem rare.

Higher-than-expected tyre wear has also been reported, and in some cases they have lasted less than 15,000 miles. So, when you look over any car, check the tread depth and the evenness of wear across the face of the tyre. And, while you're at it, check the finish on the alloy wheels, as some have suffered from peeling and discolouration problems.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Rock-solid values but has to be automatic and Elegance spec

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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