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Mercedes-Benz For 2000

By Carey Russ

Change continues at Mercedes-Benz. The 2000 S-Class premium luxury sedan was introduced partway through 1999, and is joined by the ML55 "super-SUV" and the CLK430 cabriolet. A new CL-Class of premium luxury coupes debuts soon, and the mid-size E-Class has important new features.


The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is just the car you'd expect from German engineers assigned to design the world's best luxury sedan. It's less imposing than its immediate forebear, but even more luxurious and very high-tech. Its graceful, coupe-like style encloses a more spacious and modern, very well-appointed interior. Two V8-powered models, the S430 and S500, are currently offered.


The mid-size, competitively-priced ML320 has given Mercedes a serious presence in the hotly-contested heart of the SUV marketplace, and has revised styling inside and out. The premium-level ML430 has a standard navigation system. Now for something different: The ML55 AMG creates the high-performance luxury SUV. Developed by Mercedes-Benz performance subsidiary AMG, this 342-hp cousin of the C43 and E55 sedans adds sports-sedan performance to the SUV equation.


Look closely. The mid-size E-Class has new styling. The front end is a bit lower, and the hood and fenders slope more toward a lower, CLK- inspired grille. The interior has been revised as well. V6 E320 and V8 E430 sedans and wagons are offered. Both the E320 models, and now the E430 sedan may be equipped with the "4MATIC" full-time all- wheel drive system. The 349-hp E55 AMG continues in limited quantities for the Mercedes performance enthusiast.


The lineup of CLK coupes and cabriolets continues to expand with the introduction of the CLK430 Cabrio. Like the CLK430 coupe, it is powered by a 4.3-liter, 275-hp V8. The CLK430 and CLK320 coupe and cabrio models all have minor exterior styling revisions and new interior features.


With the debut of a new S-Class sedans, could related CL-Class coupes be far behind? Of course not. The next-generation CL coupes, based on the S platform but sharing no body panels, is expected early in the 2000 calendar year. As befits its premium status, the next CL will be technologically impressive, with the debut of the "Active Body Control" (ABC) active suspension system.


The compact C-Class sedans have a variety of new features, highlighted by the "Touch Shift" manual shifting system, which has been added to their five-speed automatic transmissions. 2000 will be the last year of production for the fast, limited-production, V8-powered C43 AMG.


Two special "designo" editions of the supercharged SLK roadster are offered for 2000.


"Designo" special editions of the premium SL roadsters are also offered this year.

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