New CLK55 AMG Cabriolet Makes U.S. Debut
CHICAGO, Feb. 7 Mercedes-Benz USA announces a new
high-performance edition for the popular CLK-Class with the CLK55 AMG
Cabriolet, debuting in the U.S. at the Chicago Auto Show, held February 9-18,
2001. This elegant and sporting new four-seat Cabriolet for 2002 -- arriving
in the fall of 2001 -- is the latest in a line of five convertible debuts in
the last five years, and the first convertible model in the USA from the
Mercedes-AMG performance division. The four-seat CLK55 AMG Cabriolet combines
everything the serious driving enthusiast and three companions could ask for
-- rapid acceleration and an athletic suspension, yet with the
well-established comfort, easy operation and elegance of the CLK Cabriolet.
Preliminary performance estimates have the Cabriolet accelerating to 60 mph in
a scant 5.9 seconds.
At the heart of the CLK55 AMG Cabriolet is a healthy 5.5-liter V8
developing 342 horsepower and 376 ft.-lbs. of torque. Created by the
Mercedes-AMG high performance specialists, the generous V8 uses an
exceptionally stiff forged-steel crankshaft in a strong, pressure-cast
aluminum block. To help feed the V8, Mercedes-AMG employs a dual resonance
intake manifold with a large air cleaner assembly for higher airflow, helping
to generate outstanding low- and mid-range power. Blending a unique
combination of the latest in design technology, engineering development and
pure, old-world craftsmanship, all AMG engines are hand-assembled and tested
on-site at Mercedes-AMG's facility in Affalterbach, Germany.
Each cylinder head is treated to careful preparation, netting large
amounts of airflow to achieve high power. The V8 engine in the CLK55 AMG also
uses an innovative twin spark/three-valve design, which reduces exhaust
emissions dramatically while allowing a steady dose of power.
Delivering that power is a driver-adaptive five-speed electronic automatic
transmission with Touch Shift allowing manual gear selection, if the driver
chooses. This high-capacity, fully electronic transmission is controlled by a
high-performance microprocessor designed to execute shifts as the driver
expects and wishes. Continuous electronic networking with engine and chassis
management systems allows the transmission to adapt to a wide variety of
driving situations, and even to the driver's style.
To handle the engine's prodigious torque output, the CLK55 AMG Cabriolet
also comes with an extremely strong, 110mm-diameter (4.33-inch), four-bolt
The CLK55 AMG Cabriolet comes standard with Mercedes' innovative ESP
stability control (incorporating straight-line traction control), highly
advanced four-channel ABS anti-lock brakes, plus Xenon high-intensity
gas-discharge headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers. As on other
Mercedes-Benz models, electronic Brake Assist can reduce braking distances in
emergency or "panic" stops.
The Height of Hides, Tops in Tops
The CLK55 AMG Cabriolet's interior is completely outfitted in special
designo Nappa Charcoal leather. Not only are the sport seats upholstered in
designo leather, but the dashboard, center console, door panels and the airbag
modules are trimmed in the same soft, supreme-quality hide, as well. Beyond
the AMG sport steering wheel, the driver sees unique AMG gauges.
The CLK's structure was designed from the beginning to accommodate coupe
and convertible bodies, so the Cabriolet is not at all a coupe with the roof
cut off. In fact, except for modified doors on the Cabriolet, the two models
share very little structure and no body panels behind the A-pillars. The top
itself is fully lined with three layers of insulation to dampen unwanted
sound. The electrically heated glass rear window is mounted flush to the top.
After releasing a simple catch at the windshield header, the top electrically
folds under a hard boot in about 25 seconds, transforming the car from a comfy
coupe into a four-seat open tourer. A variety of convertible top colors are
offered, as well. When the rear seats are not in use, a mesh wind deflector
can be secured in place over the rear seats to minimize wind noise and
buffeting in the front.
The Fun Factor
As with any Mercedes-AMG vehicle, an ear-to-ear grin on the driver's face
is a main goal. Thanks to 342 horsepower and 376 lbs.-ft. of torque, much of
that goal is instantly achieved upon the first application of throttle. But
even more challenging to Mercedes-AMG engineers -- and an equal component in
the car's fun factor -- is striking a balance between ride comfort and
suspension responsiveness. Careful attention is paid to combining handling
ability, feel and ride quality by using springs, shock valving and stabilizer
bars specific to the model. While the CLK55 AMG Cabriolet can carve twisty
two-lanes with authority, it maintains a high level of ride comfort. New,
unique multipiece alloy wheels feature a highly polished finish with
225/45ZR17 and 245/40ZR17 high-performance tires, front and rear.
What the 5.5-liter engine is to acceleration, the CLK55 AMG Cabriolet's
racing-derived brakes are to stopping. All four discs are internally vented,
and haul the four-seat Cabriolet down from speed with startling ability.
Front discs measure 13.2 inches in diameter, while the rear vented discs are
The Mercedes-AMG Connection
For over three decades, AMG has been the world's foremost developer and
racer of Mercedes vehicles. Mercedes-Benz was so impressed by AMG's skill
that the company began selling AMG-prepared cars through European retailers in
1993. Mercedes and AMG later co-produced limited-production cars based on
existing Mercedes models starting in 1995 with the C36. AMG also partnered
with Mercedes-Benz in the DTM and ITC Touring Car Championships, using
C-Class-based racing cars. In 1997 and 1998 AMG-built CLK-GTR racecars
captured two FIA GT World Championships. With an eye toward developing
AMG-prepared vehicles across the entire Mercedes line, Mercedes-Benz acquired
majority ownership of AMG in 1998. Worldwide Mercedes-AMG sales figures more
than doubled to 11,500 vehicles in calendar year 2000 over 1999, with the US
market responsible for 4,349 units.
Indeed, powerful engines are just one element of any Mercedes-AMG
automobile. There are six specific themes to every AMG product: handling
ability, braking, acceleration, luxury, exclusivity and practicality. All are
equally important, but perhaps the latter is most significant: Mercedes-AMG
cars make no special demands of owners, and require no special concessions as
a result of their high-performance capabilities.