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Mercedes-Benz CLK-class CLK 63 2008 Review

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The exclusivity signified by the `Black' label is used by those outside the auto industry - Johnnie Walker and Penthouse magazine (so I'm told, of course) among them.

Mercedes-Benz AMG powerhouse has produced some stunning machines in the past but none as ferocious as the CLK 63 AMG Black Series.

It deserves the Black label, for its extra outputs and abilities definitely fall into the black magic category.

It's twin brother is the F1 Safety Car and it has the carbon fibre spoilers and trim bits to prove it.

Other trick bits include twin exhausts, an additional transmission oil cooler, a high-performance steering oil radiator, an active differential oil cooler.

The AMG 6.2-litre V8 has had alterations made to the intake and exhaust system, with a new variable intake manifold among the changes - the numbers stack up for some serious pace - 373kW at an amusing and muscial 6800rpm, with 630Nm at 5250rpm.

That's enough, says Benz, for 100km/h to arrive in 4.3 seconds, the needle swings by 200km/h in 13.8 seconds and is limited to a 300km/h top speed.

Not that we're in a position to check the latter during the Thoroughbreed Tour of this year's Classic Adelaide, as the 130km/h limit applies during closed-road stages.

But seat-of-pants feel suggests the numbers can be believed.

The first stage attempted in the Black was Coromandel, a personal favourite when it comes to the state's roads.

Starting on a curve in such a beast meant the stability control - much to the disgust of athe assembled officials - was staying on, a trend for the rest of the day.

The little black Benz demolished straights and breached the event speed limited with over half the gearbox remaining untouched.

Corners are met with gusto from the helm, pitching in with enthusiasm and accuracy, but the exit was tempered by a compulsory restriction on the right foot.

Smoothness was a must, otherwise everything died as the stability control smothered the fun.

Even a gentle return to full throttle met with blinking belligerence from the stability control light.

Faster, open roads were easier to deal with - the biggest problem was staying under the stage speed limit.

If the exterior and interior add-ons had anything to do with pace and poise then it is a rocket - AMG-emblazoned carbon-fibre pieces in the door and on the centre console, lip spoilers and splitter additions also from carbon-fibre, 19in alloy wheels, sports "tombstone" bucket seats that adjust only fore and aft were fitted as well.

The seven-speed auto has aluminium paddleshifts - and thankfully it will hold gears in manual mode.

The paddles are mounted behind the low-key AMG performance steering wheel, which was a little too subtle for the rest of the car.

The gearbox is the only thing letting the Black down, it's still an automatic and can sometimes frustrate the driver's attempts - we're sampling the SL63 soon and if that transmission is as good as it is said to be, let's hope it makes an appearance in the CLK Black.

Unfortunately our day in the CLK 63 AMG Black Series after an unscheduled excursion through beyond the outside of a right-hander on a Fleurieu Peninsula stage.

The right-hander was approached with caution but the driver at the time - not the author - found problems on the exit, possibly from the radius, some gravel or dirt on the road.

The man behind the wheel managed to avoid a large tree but couldn't avoid heading into the long grass on the roadside (by far the lesser of two evils) and flattened an old fence post and some wire.

After the requisite notifications were hastily made amid a smoky smell, debris was collected and the Black was returned to the road for a slow completion of the stage.

Skid, scorch and tyre marks made by the following field suggest we weren't the only ones to leave the tarmac on the same corner, with other competitors making a mess of the new fence and leaving behind a windscreen.

Our car was removed from the event as a precaution and the driver may well still be apologising even now.

Our event was over but the taste of the Black has left me wanting more.

It's a purposeful beast that has a magnificent powerplant and challenges the driver - I think I'd need about a year to get to grips with it, but my chances are slim.


CLK 63 AMG Black Series

Engine: 6.2-litre aluminium 32-valve V8.

Transmission: seven-speed paddleshift automatic, driving rear wheels with LSD.

Power: 373kW at 6800rpm.

Torque: 630Nm at 5250rpm.

Performance: 0-100km/h 4.3 seconds. Top speed 300km/h (governed).

Fuel consumption: claimed 15.3litres/100km, tank 62litres.


Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

CLK63 AMG 6.2L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $32,600 – 42,680 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class 2008 CLK63 AMG Pricing and Specs
CLK500 Avantgarde 5.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $25,200 – 33,440 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class 2008 CLK500 Avantgarde Pricing and Specs
CLK500 Elegance 5.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $24,000 – 32,560 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class 2008 CLK500 Elegance Pricing and Specs
CLK200 Kompressor Avantgarde 1.8L, PULP, 5 SP AUTO $14,700 – 20,680 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class 2008 CLK200 Kompressor Avantgarde Pricing and Specs
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist


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