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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For Style and a supercharged engine option make it a great everyday drop-top

Against Not as reliable as Mercedes of old, it needs regular, expensive servicing

Verdict It looks classy, but the right specification is vital to low running costs

Go for… 230K

Avoid… Costly V8s and manuals

Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet
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Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet full review with expert trade views

The CLK Cabrio is not quite as solid as the Coupe, but it still drives like an elegant soft-top should. It shrugs off bumps, doesn't shudder like some convertibles, and has superb motorway manners.

Every model has a relaxed feel, with effortless acceleration that's more than adequate for top-down motoring. However, with the roof down, it's blustery, especially for anyone sat in the back.

However, even with the canvas top up, there's plenty of space for taller drivers, and the tilt-and-slide mechanism on the front seats makes getting in and out of the back a bit more dignified. Don't even think about seating more than four, though - a storage box fills the gap between the two rear seats.

Legroom back there isn't generous, though, and with the roof in place, headroom is tight for adults. It's a bit dark, too, and some of your over-the-shoulder vision is severely restricted.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Plenty around. Values steady. Cabriolet good seller. 200K Avantgarde best value model.

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The entry-level 2.0-litre CLK 200 was slow and unimpressive, but the far faster 200K supercharged model that replaced it was much better. However, the best engine in the range is the supercharged 230K, which is very responsive, if a bit noisy.

As with any Mercedes, a manual version can prove undesirable on the used market, so look out for models with an automatic gearbox, which will help safeguard your investment. Alternatively, stick to the 3.2 V6 (which is marginally quicker than the 230k) and large 4.3 V8, both of which came only with automatic gearboxes.

There's something close to a standard specification on all CLKs - air-con or climate control, a single CD player, electric seat adjustment, a two-way adjustable steering column and loads of passive and active safety features. As you might expect, the bigger the engine, the more goodies that came as standard.

Trade view

John Owen

Eclipsed by sharper-looking replacement. Four-cylinders good value. Six- and eight-cyl cars costly

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

These cars were very popular and held their value well until the newer version was launched in 2003, when they fell sharply. The result is that they're now relatively good value for money, but you'll need to shop around for the best ones.

Routine running costs are high, so you need to make a decision about who will carry out the maintenance. Major services are at 9000 miles, and you'll pay twice as much per hour if you take it to a franchised dealer, rather than opting for an independent.

Fuel consumption hovers around 30mpg for the smallest engines, falling to about 22mpg for the V8 - reasonable considering the performance on offer.

Insurance won't be cheap, either. The larger engines weigh in at insurance group 19, but this falls to group 15 for the entry-level models.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Plenty around. Values steady. Cabriolet good seller. 200K Avantgarde best value model.

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

This version of the CLK is from the period when Mercedes first began to seek ways of cutting production costs. It's well made, but not as trouble-free as cars of old, and you should steer clear of any car with a scruffy interior unless you can get it cheap.

Worse still, spare parts are surprisingly expensive. For example, catalytic converter failure could set you back at least £900, while oil leaks from the cylinder head are a sign of a stretch-bolt problem.

About a third of cars that have caused a claim to Warranty Direct suffer axle and suspension problems, and electrical gremlins are also a problem, so make sure all the switches and controls work.

Other than that, on affected cars, check the logbook to see if the recall work to replace the rear seatbelt mechanism has been done. Also, check the fog lamps, which are prone to misting up, and be warned that the single arm wiper mechanism needs regular lubrication, which is not included in normal Mercedes service schedules. It's prone to failure and costs £800 to replace.

Last, but not least, as it's a convertible, make sure the hood is in good order and leak-free.

Trade view

John Owen

Eclipsed by sharper-looking replacement. Four-cylinders good value. Six- and eight-cyl cars costly

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford
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