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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - CLK-class

First look: CLK cab an Aussie buyer first

Fun in the sun: Both V6 and V8 CLK cabriolets will come to Australia.

Benz reveals its new CLK cabriolet in Geneva ... and Melbourne

6 Mar 2003

IT was revealed to the press in the metal in Geneva first, but potential drop-top Benz buyers in Australia will be the first members of the public worldwide to view the second generation CLK cabriolet.

The locals get their chance to view the CLK hours ahead of the Europeans at a special function at Benz's Mulgrave headquarters in Melbourne tonight (March 6), before it goes on show here tomorrow at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

The Geneva show opens to the public on Friday our time and the CLK will be the star of the Mercedes-Benz stand there as well.

What prospective buyers in both countries will find is a classically evolved Benz design, still retaining the two-door four-seat concept with a cloth top, but with claimed improvements in aerodynamics, noise, comfort and boot capacity.

The CLK cabriolet will go on sale in Australia in June or July in two variants - the 3.2-litre V6 CLK320 and the 5.0-litre V8-powered CLK500. The 200K and 230K supercharged versions will go, while the 5.0 replaces the old 4.3.

The 3.2 litre V6 engine produces an unchanged 160kW, while the 5.0 is the same 225kW rating as the CLK500 coupe. The three-link MacPherson strut front suspension, rack-and-pinion power steering and independent multi-link rear suspension are also shared with the coupe.

The good news for prospective buyers is that Mercedes-Benz is pushing to drive up its cabriolet sales and therefore is looking to increase value and hold pricing as much as possible, a policy it also showed off when the CLK coupe was introduced last year.

"The actual prices will probably stay very similar to where they are now," said Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman Toni Andreevski. "With the CLK coupe we improved the 320 price and the 500 price went up a little because of the change in engine.

"It will be a similar kind of scenario for the cabriolet, and of course the cabriolet prices are at a premium to the coupe." Current 320 cabriolet pricing starts at $114,474, with the 430 cabriolet priced at $147,974.

While the mechanicals are closely identified with the coupe, it is the roof and body where much of the development work has gone with the cabriolet. For a start, it boasts a 0.30Cd aerodynamic drag coefficient and 390 litres of boot space - both claimed to be class-leading figures.

Benz is also claiming more interior space thanks to an increase in all body dimensions (length is up 71mm), including a longer wheelbase (up 25mm). That translates to 23mm more front headroom, 30mm more rear elbow room and almost 44mm of extra rear passenger legroom.

The CLK cab's body has been strengthened 12 per cent compared to its predecessor and new safety features include head/thorax sidebags as standard, adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, and belt tensioners on all seats. There's also a sensor-controlled rollover bar in case things go rubber-side up.

Mercedes says the newly developed, multi-layered fabric roof is designed for optimal noise damping and convenience, opening and closing fully automatically at the touch of a button or by remote control.

Offered in Elegance and Avantgarde trim, standard CLK cabriolet equipment in Europe includes automatic climate control with outlets in the rear, headlamp assist, a rain sensor for the windscreen wipers, cruise control with Speedtronic, a reach and height-adjustable, leather-covered multi-function steering wheel with illuminated operating keys and a central display for individual settings.

Optional equipment available in Europe includes the proximity cruise control system Distronic, the keyless access and drive authorisation system Keyless-Go, the operating and display system Comand APS, Linguatronic voice control for the telephone, radio and navigation system, the automatic climate control system Thermotronic with a sun sensor, and powerful bi-Xenon headlights.

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