Used Mercedes-Benz CLK Coupe 1997 - 2003 review

Category: Coupé

Few coupes have as much class as the Mercedes CLK, but poor examples will cost you

Used Mercedes-Benz CLK Coupe 1997 - 2003
  • Used Mercedes-Benz CLK Coupe 1997 - 2003
  • Used Mercedes-Benz CLK Coupe 1997 - 2003
Used Mercedes-Benz CLK Coupe 1997 - 2003 review
Star rating

What's the used Mercedes CLK coupe like?

The Mercedes CLK is an elegant four-seater coupe, with excellent space in the front and enough room for two adults in the back. An effective tilt-and-slide seat mechanism makes it easy to climb into the rear quarters as well, but the boot is only big enough for two suitcases.

The coupe borrows much of its style from the bigger SL roadster and E-Class saloon. The instruments are well laid out, the seats are well shaped and comfort levels are excellent, especially in models fitted with electric seat and steering wheel adjustment. And, for a coupe, it also has decent visibility.


Few coupes have as much class as the Mercedes CLK, but poor examples will cost you

  • Elegant design allows four adults to travel in style and comfort
  • Expensive to maintain with some items costly to replace if they fail

The CLK is most at home on motorways and sweeping main roads, where it feels as stable and comfortable as a Mercedes saloon. It struggles more on challenging roads and tight bends, and the more powerful versions, like the AMG, can feel too powerful for their own good. However, all models get a range of traction and stability aids to keep things in check, which is good news.

Ownership cost

What used Mercedes CLK coupe will I get for my budget?

How much does it cost to run a Mercedes CLK coupe?

Routine running costs are high and, depending on the age of the car, you need to make a decision about who will carry out the maintenance. Major services are at 9000 miles, but you should be able to halve your bills if you go to an independent specialist rather than a franchised dealer.

Fuel consumption is around 30mpg for the smallest engines, dropping to about 22mpg for the V8 versions. That's not exactly good, but it is acceptable for the performance they provide.

Rivals like the BMW 3 Series and Alfa Romeo GTV are cheaper to buy and run, but don't have the charm and character of the CLK. More exotic competitors like the Porsche 928 and Jaguar XK8 are a step ahead in performance, but will cost you more in the long run.

Our recommendations

Which used Mercedes CLK coupe should I buy?

The four-cylinder engines become coarse at high revs, and even the V6 can sound strained when you work it hard. However, they're all quiet when cruising, and the CLK cuts out wind and road noise well.

Overall, the V6 offers the best blend of performance and running costs, and acceleration is effortless with it or the 4.3 V8 - and simply incredible with the 5.6 AMG. The only slowcoach is the non-supercharged 2.0-litre unit, but both the Kompressor engines are reasonably brisk.

Whichever model you go for, try to find one with the excellent automatic gearbox, which is standard on the V6 and V8. The manual is clunky and frustrating.

The hairy 5.5-litre 342bhp AMG version was designed to take on the BMW M3. And, although it had the performance - 0-62mph in 5.1sec - it fell short of this ambitious target.

Every model comes with plenty of comfort and safety features, but it's worth avoiding pre-1998 cars, as they didn't come with standard air-conditioning.

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What alternatives should I consider to a used Mercedes CLK coupe?