Rare, racey and a brilliant drive, this is one CLK that would give plenty of supercars a seeing to.

There are AMG Benzes, really quite special AMG Benzes, and pretty damn amazing, spectacular and rare AMG Benzes. And the last of these is what you are looking at here. This is the Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM AMG, a clumsy name for a lightning-quick car of which only 100 will be made. Up to now there are only a handful right-hookers like this in the UK, and among their owners are Jenson Button and Takuma Sato, so you’ll be in good company if can find the necessary £235,000 that Cars International, which is selling this ultra-rare weapon, is asking. That’s a lot for a CLK, and rather more than the £180,000 or so that the cars were originally sold for, but you can see the appeal, and it’s clear that Button and Sato must rate it. For what it’s worth, so do I after an exploratory couple of hours in this machine, which is an ultra-serious supercar dressed in the clothes of a classy mid-range coupé. It is, of course, a road-going version of the Mercedes campaigned in the DTM, Germany’s spectacular touring car championship. To be specific, it’s closely modelled on the 2003 CLK, which won the championship that year with Bernd Schneider at the wheel. Some key facts, then. It’s propelled by a 574bhp 5.5-litre supercharged V8, a modified version of the engine found in the SL55 AMG, whose pistons, crankcase, valve gear, cooling system, intake ducting, supercharger and exhaust have all been burnished by AMG. At 3500rpm you’ll be able to access 590lb ft of torque, and the five-speed automated manual transmission is controlled via pair of precision-click paddles behind the wheel. It weighs 1742 kilograms, and will demolish 62mph in 3.9 seconds before hitting the limiter at 199mph, or 320km/h. So it’s not short of power. Harnessing it are 20 inch, 285 R30-clad wheels at the rear, 19-inchers up front and a thoroughly worked-over suspension system. You get height-adjustable spring and shock absorber units all round, while the rear suspension has been totally redesigned over the standard CLK’s with new linkages, hub carriers and – just as well, this – reinforced driveshafts. There are stiffer replacements for the standard rubber bushes on both axles, providing greater precision, and there’s a mechanical limited-slip differential to complement the electronic traction control, plus an ESP stability programme whose parameters have been adjusted to suit the car. Which presumably means that you’ll be allowed a pretty decent angle of dangle, but we weren’t going to be finding that out in a car that had done just 60 miles. As you’d expect, the DTM comes with a reasonably mad-looking set of multi-spoke wheels, and they look right at home under some wheelarch and sill extensions which look a bit rough. Get on your haunches and inspect the joints, and you can see signs of the sander’s art. The door seals were coming away from the sills on this car too – number 29, in fact – though they were easily clipped back. But that’s part of the DTM’s charm, proof that it really is a road car closely based on a racer. Step inside and you’ll enjoy the curiosity of finding the standard CLK’s exquisitely damped, pop-out coin holder juxtaposed with the carbonfibre of the lower half of the centre console and the vast carbonfibre-lined well that sits where the rear seats used to be. Deep in the fully carpeted footwells is a pair of no-messing, drilled alloy pedals, neither of them quite straight. This car really is a curious – and appealingly eccentric – mix of utterly standard CLK (an attractively trimmed device in itself) and a full-on, red-mist racer. Behind the judiciously padded, one-piece carbonfibre bucket seats is a beautifully wrought, oval section carbonfibre rod that runs across the cabin to provide mountings for the race harness that you and your (trepidatious) passenger must wear, and you sit beside doors trimmed in simple sheets of the stuff, their pull handles consisting of a weird, slightly spongy rubber that are coloured aluminium and resemble leftovers from the Dr Who special-effects department. The AMG instruments are rather more sophisticated: a digital rev counter concentric within a 220mph white-faced speedo, kept company by oil and water temperature gauges. You even get the COMAND infotainment system from the CLK. On the horizontal section of centre console, between the seats, is an aluminium plinth carrying a badge (it reads CLK DTM ‘One out of 100’), and a dinky T-piece gearlever with its simple Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive layout. And boy, does this thing Drive. We’re not using anything like full throttle here because it’s running in, but it’s not hard to detect the industrial-strength thrust of that supercharged V8, which issues a mix of deep bass blast, breathy rasp and urgent blare, depending on how ambitious you’re being. This an entirely suitable soundtrack for your progress, which is just so dartingly fast. You don’t expect a car this large to move with such deft, instant and unperturbed obedience. It shows every sign of being the racer that it’s based on, its turn-in and tracking erasing understeer and reminding you what a car that responds with absolute faith to your input to the wheel is like. It stops with just as little fuss, and you can feel it straining to go harder than a starving dog. All of which makes the CLK DTM unexpectedly easy to drive, especially with that paddle shift. The biggest trouble you’ll have – until you dip too deep into the power pool, that is – will be fumbling for a paddle when you’ve swivelled the oval, suede-sheathed wheel, because the rather small paddles swivel with it. You’re obviously not meant to take your hands off the wheel at all, rotating your arms race-driver style, which gets you most of the available lock anyway. It’s a torque-converter transmission, but it bangs gears home with real speed and pretty decent smoothness, too, though the modest blips between downshifts are a small disappointment. It doesn’t take long to feel right at home in this car – not that many will be moving in with this price-rarity combo – and stretch it a little. And what you find yourself thinking, in very short order, is that you want to get the Merc to a track and spear a few bends at insane speeds. That’s what it’s been built for, of course, but one of the many things that is so appealing about this car is the unapologetic way in which it has been configured for its mission. It’s not an ugly car, but those skirts and spoilers, and especially the air intakes on the rear arches, hardly enhance its looks, which are a strange blend of road and race car, just like the interior. But it works. And what this car has over your common or garden ultra-supercar is its sheer usability. You sit higher than you do in a mid-engined beauty, making it easier to see out. It’s narrower too, even with those arch extensions, which makes it easier to thread along a narrow snake of road. And the sheer ease of driving it – at least on public roads – makes it a shockingly fast, massively entertaining road warrior. Of all the AMG beasts I’ve sampled – and there have been many – this has to be the most exciting.

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