One inevitable result of the long-standing Mercedes versus BMW rivalry is matching your competitor, model-for-model, engine-for-engine. You can imagine the frustration, then, of Mercedes’ salespeople in not offering a CLK challenger to the 330 Cd, one of the best real-world cars on sale. Amazingly, there’s not enough room under the bonnet of all C-class-based models (and the original M-class) to install Mercedes’ old in-line six-cylinder diesel engine – a packaging blunder of breath-taking proportions. Happily, the compact new V6 turbo-diesel easily slots into the CLK’s engine bay to present BMW’s terrific diesel coupé with its first serious direct competitor. And, take it from us, the CLK 320 CDi is a formidable rival. With 221bhp and 376lb ft of torque (or 302lb ft as a manual), the CLK surpasses the BMW’s 201bhp/302lb ft, to (just) outpoint the 330 Cd to 62mph – 7.3sec against 7.4sec –with a 3.1mpg fuel consumption advantage. That’s a whole 1.9sec faster than the old in-line five CLK 270 CDi, thus lifting the performance into a totally different class. It’s not just about acceleration, but noticeably improved refinement from the new engine (in combination with the excellence of Mercedes’ seven-speed auto), combined with a sharper chassis. Even on the 225/40 (front) and 255/35 (rear) 17-inch rubber of the optional AMG sport pack, the CLK is a fine-riding coupé with terrific handling. A quicker steering rack gives this CLK improved agility and greater driver appeal. Sadly, the interior’s overall quality remains ordinary, lacking anything to make the cabin special. And quite why the rev counter is red-lined at 4600rpm, when the auto is set to change up at 4100rpm, remains a mystery. The CLK 320 CDi offers effortless performance and first-rate economy. And because the powerplant is also available in the CLK cabriolet, buyers can enjoy the benefits of the new engine with the top down, too. Peter Robinson

Join the debate

Comments
1

Re: Mercedes CLK320 CDI

5 years 48 weeks ago

the 0-62mph time is actually faster, 6.3-6.9s actually, depending which gear setting is chosen from a combination of Drive C, Drive S or Drive M and also with these three can be combined with the tiptronic gear shift, or steering wheel paddles.

also in tiptronic gear or steering wheel paddle gear mode, in any of the C, S or M selections, the revs can pass your quoted 4100 RPM which is why the redline is higher on the rev counter.

the AMG pack, incl. equipment as wheels, body work, gearing, suspenison, tuning and other modifications, comes as standard with the Sport version (above the Elegance and Avantgard versions) and the wheels are set on 18" not 17" by the way.

these size wheels also come in the sport pack upgrade with an Elegance or Avantgard - and non-AMG multispoke wheel is also available on 18" with this upgrade.

if the car has a high equipment level and set-up, and/or has been tuned with for example the Daimler-Chrysler/Mercedes-Benz approved chips (e.g. Brabus), the car can be re-badged as 'CLK 32 S & V6CDI' on the rear boot detail (this can be done with or without the Brabus Chip).

Please register or login to post a comment.

Driven this week

  • Citroen DS5 LS first drive review

    Citroen DS5 LS first drive review

    First drive
    20 August 2014 4:32pm

    Saloon version of Citroën's DS5 has been created to battle premium German rivals in China, but falls short

  • Ferrari 458 Speciale

    Ferrari 458 Speciale

    Car review
    20 August 2014 4:21pm

    Ferrari's last-word 458 brings unparalleled poise and purpose

  • Hyundai Genesis

    Hyundai Genesis

    Car review
    20 August 2014 8:26am

    The Korean firm has made progress in its quest to match executive saloons from Audi, Mercedes and BMW, but on this evidence there's still work to do

  • BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport first drive review

    BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport first drive review

    First drive
    20 August 2014 12:02am

    X3’s new 2.0-litre four-pot diesel has its merits, but bigger six-pot remains the more appealing choice

  • Mercedes-Benz C220 Bluetec Sport estate UK first drive review

    Mercedes-Benz C220 Bluetec Sport estate UK first drive review

    First drive
    19 August 2014

    Luxurious load-lugger offers generous amounts of room and only loses out to the BMW 3-series Touring on dynamic ability