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New Mercedes CLK gets a good grilling

When you're on a good thing, stick to it. With the previous CLK convertible such a strong seller it's no surprise that DaimlerChrysler has a soft-top version of the new Mercedes-Benz CLK, codenamed C209, waiting in the wings for a spring launch. Like the previous CLK, the new model is based on the C-class platform, despite its visual links with the larger E-class.

And it follows the previous model in being slightly longer overall than the C-class. This undoubtedly helps justify its slight price premium over the larger, newer E-class, although its wheelbase is identical to the C-class and it shares the smaller car's rack and pinion steering. This time, however, the CLK gets the Mercedes-Benz sports car grille graphic – a lower, wider opening with a massive centre mounted three pointed star – that is shared with the SL and SLK roadsters, and luxury CL and entry level C-class coupes.

Expect the new CLK convertible to follow a similar model structure to the new CLK coupe. Entry level models should therefore be powered by the 161bhp supercharged 2.0 litre four; volume sellers with the 170bhp 2.4 litre and 215bhp 3.2 litre V6 versions. DaimlerChrysler UK may also offer a 302bhp 5.0 litre V8 model and a 170bhp 2.7 litre turbodiesel as well.

A new direct injection 170bhp 1.8 litre supercharged four will follow, as will a 3.0 litre common rail V6 diesel. Standard transmission will be a six speed automatic.

The CLK convertible's folding roof raises and lowers at the touch of a button, but is fabric, not steel, to facilitate stowage. Interior fittings and features will be otherwise identical to the coupe version.



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