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Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class (C208)

The C208/A208 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class was introduced in 1997, and was based on the W202 Mercedes-Benz C-Class launched three years earlier. The C208 coupé was the first generation of the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class and was subsequently replaced by the C209 CLK-Class in 2002 (for the 2003 model year), although the convertible remained in production till March 2003 when replaced by the A209 CLK. In total 233,367 units of the first generation CLK were manufactured in its coupé form, when production ceased in May 2002 and additional 115,161 cabriolets assembled at Karmann plant in Osnabrück.


In 1993, Mercedes presented the Coupé Concept at the Geneva Motor Show, a four-seater coupé with a four-headlamp front end similar to the 1995 E-Class W210 series. It also featured a panoramic tinted-glass roof and a fastback rear, extending even further than on production model. Concept car was equipped with a 5-litre V8 powerplant, rated at 320 PS and 470 Nm. Design patents for the Coupé Concept were filed on 25 February 1993 in Germany and 25 August 1993 in the US.

The CLK introduced a new market niche for Mercedes-Benz. Although the C208 used components from the E-Class (W210), aesthetic based on the E-Class and had a specification level higher than the E-Class, it was in fact based on the less expensive C-Class (W202) platform.

Three versions were initially available: the four-cylinder CLK 200 (136 PS (100 kW; 134 bhp)) and four-cylinder supercharged CLK 200 Kompressor 192 PS (141 kW; 189 bhp) and CLK 230 Kompressor 193–197 PS (142–145 kW; 190–194 bhp).

The CLK 320 Coupé was introduced in the 1997 model year, powered by a 218 PS (160 kW; 215 bhp) 3.2 L V6 engine. The CLK GTR FIA GT1 racing car appeared in 1998, powered by a 6.0 L V12 engine; 25 road-going CLK GTRs were made. All models were available in both coupé and convertible form.

1999 facelift

In late 1999 for the 2000 model year, a facelift was launched which incorporated, among others, a revised instrument cluster with a bigger multifunction display, steering wheel with controls for the multifunction display and radio, Tiptronic automatic gearbox, revised bumpers, new side skirts and wing mirror-mounted turn signal repeaters. The 279 PS (205 kW; 275 bhp), M113 4.3 L V8-powered CLK 430 Cabriolet appeared in 1999.

The high-performance CLK 55 AMG, which was introduced first in Europe in 2000, was powered by the 347 PS (255 kW; 342 bhp) M113 5.4 L V8 engine; the model was manufactured from 1999, both as coupé and cabriolet.

2000 engine refresh

From 2000, Mercedes modified the M111 in-line four engine range, detuning the 200 Kompressor from 192 to 163 PS as an EVO engine. Some of the improvements included reinforced cylinder block, new cylinder head, individual coil-on-plug ignition with new iridium-tipped spark plugs for longer replacement intervals, connecting rods and pistons capable of higher compression ratio, dual oxygen sensors and replacement of the Eaton M62 supercharger with Eaton M45 unit.

Two litre, naturally aspirated unit was discontinued, while both Kompressor models received new six-speed manual transmission as standard, as well as a Sequentronic six-speed manual transmission with sequential gear shift mechanism and an automatic clutch control. The rest of the range retained a five-speed automatic transmission with Touchshift as standard.

Pre-facelift styling

Post-facelift styling

Engines and performance

*Acceleration times are for manual/automatic gearbox coupé (above) and for manual/automatic gearbox cabriolet (below).


CLK 200 Kompressor

The CLK 200 Kompressor engine option was an export version for some European markets like Italy, Greece and Portugal for tax reasons. In 2000 the engine was refreshed and updated but detuned with a new supercharger.

CLK 430

In the United States, the CLK 430 could be equipped with a "Sport Package," which gave it the external styling of the more powerful CLK 55 AMG, and equipped it with the same wheels and tires as its AMG counterpart (see section "CLK 55 AMG"). This allowed it to reach up to 0.83G's of lateral acceleration, and 66.5 mph on the slalom run.



The CLK 55 AMG is powered by a hand-assembled 5.4-litre V8 engine. The hardware list includes a forged steel crankshaft, forged, weight-matched connecting rods and pistons, lightweight AMG-specific chain-driven single overhead camshafts V8 (one cam per cylinder bank) with two intake and one exhaust valves per cylinder, as well as 8 coil packs and 16 spark plugs (two spark plugs per cylinder). Its bore and stroke are 97 mm × 92 mm. The 'dual-resonance' intake manifold with tuned runners helps optimize torque and power output by taking advantage of what Mercedes calls 'resonant frequencies'. The engine has a high compression ratio of 10.5:1. These technologies help the engine produce 347 PS (255 kW; 342 hp) and 376 lb⋅ft (510 N⋅m) of torque.


The five-speed automatic transmission (722.6) is fully adaptive and electronically controlled, and is a stronger unit than that of the CLK 430. Also a larger four-bolt driveshaft that's four inches in diameter connects to a reinforced rear differential to keep all the extra power under control. Standard traction control keeps wheelspin to a minimum, while its Electronic Stability Program (ESP) keeps the CLK on its intended path.


The standard CLK chassis is used, and while the current version is not based on the new C-Class platform, the AMG version of the CLK offers some special undercarriage components. The four-wheel independent suspension is basically the same as the lesser CLK versions, but AMG fits higher-rated springs, tighter shock valving, larger diameter anti-roll bars and stiffer suspension bushings. The resulting firmer, more controlled ride is made even tighter by its high-performance ZR-rated low-profile tires. The brakes have been enhanced as well. The huge four-wheel discs are larger and thicker than the other CLKs, and the rear discs are specially vented to enhance cooling. An anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard, while Brake Assist applies full braking force in panic stop faster than a driver could. It rides on AMG Monoblock alloy wheels, 7.5" front and 8.5" rear, fitted with 225/45ZR17 and 245/40ZR17 Michelin Pilot Sport tires.

CLK 55 AMG Cabriolet

Although the CLK 55 AMG Cabriolet didn't officially release until the year after the coupé, in 2001 the CLK 430 Cabriolet could be equipped with all the AMG options as a special order from the AMG factory with the full 55 AMG setup, which includes the CLK 55 AMG engine and transmission, AMG suspension, AMG brakes and full set up as a factory option. Making it the first 2001 CLK 55 AMG Cabriolet. Although only a very few were built.

Special editions

CLK Master Edition

The Master Edition was a 2001 limited edition of the coupé variant of the CLK. It was inspired by the AMG-prepared race car that ran in the DTM championship. During the 2000 Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters season, Bernd Schneider won six races and secured both driver's and D2 AMG-Mercedes team's championship. He then repeated this feat a year later in 2001 DTM season.

The road-going car was based on the "Avantgarde" trim with AMG-specific upgrades, including leather sports steering wheel, AMG-badged door sills, gearshift lever and floor mats with the inscription of the edition. On the outside front fenders included "Master Edition" script, 17-inch light-alloy wheels in AMG design, specific exhaust pipe with an AMG cover and full AMG bodykit with front and rear aprons as well as the side sill panels, as seen on the CLK 55 AMG.

Most engine options were available for the new special model: the 2.0 or 2.3-litre Kompressor, the 3.2-litre V6 and the 4.3 litre V8. Portugal was assigned only 30 units of the edition.

CLK Cabriolet Final Edition

When the CLK Cabriolet was nearing it's replacement by the new C209 generation, Mercedes marketed a run-out limited edition called the Final Edition. Exterior features included optional Cubanite silver gray metallic paint, 17-inch five-spoke light-alloy wheels, chrome details and "Final Edition" script on the front fenders. The interior was finished with Gray Nappa/Alcantara upholstery, wood and leather steering wheel, decorative elements in burr walnut, chrome details and floor mats with "Final Edition" script. This edition was available as a 200 or 230 Kompressor, 320 V6 or 430 V8.

Special models

F1 safety car

A specially modified version of the CLK 55 AMG was used during the 1997 F1 season and 1998 as a safety car. It pre-dated the production CLK 55 AMG available to customers by two years.


The Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR is a V12 mid-engine race car developed for the 1997 FIA GT Championship. It shared only the instrumentation, front grille and the four headlamps with the normal CLK C208. Production of the required 25 road cars began in winter of 1998 and finished in the summer of 1999.



The Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM was a race version of the CLK developed for the 2000 DTM season.

Targa Tasmania

A CLK 55 AMG also served as the base for the further modified race car built by AMG for the Targa Tasmania rally in 2001.

Production volumes

The following are production figures for the C208/A208 CLK:

Sales figures

The following are the sales figures in Europe and in the United States:



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