For 2005, the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class undergoes minor changes. There’s a single CD player with the AM/FM radio, a seven-speed transmission available on the CLK 500, steering wheel gearshift buttons and automatic climate control available on the CLK500 and CLK55 AMG, a four-tailpipe high performance exhaust system standard on the CLK55 AMG, and two new exterior colours. New available options are bi-Xenon headlamps with cornering lights, a DVD-based navigation system, and a Harmon/Kardon sound system with six-CD changer.

The CLK-Class is available as the CLK 320, CLK 500 and CLK 55 AMG, each in coupe or convertible configuration. The CLK-Class shares some hardware with the C-Class, while the CKL 500’s 5.0-litre V8 is also found on the E 500 and S 500.

The CLK 320 comes with a 3.2-litre V6 and includes a five-speed Touch Shift automatic transmission, 17-inch five-spoke wheels with high-performance tires, dual-zone climate control, ten-way power front seats with memory, patterned aluminum trim, rubber-studded aluminum pedals, and on the cabriolet, a one-button power soft top.

The CLK 500 uses a 5.0-litre V8 and adds a seven-speed Touch Shift automatic transmission with wheel-mounted shift controls, 17-inch AMG-style ultra-thin-spoke monoblock wheels with high-performance tires, AMG-designed lower bodywork, colour-keyed AMG rear lip spoiler, and digital dual-zone climate control with sun and humidity sensors.

The CLK 55 AMG adds a 5.5-litre V8, five-speed automatic transmission with AMG SpeedShift and wheel-mounted fingertip shift controls, staggered-width 18-inch wheels and high-performance tires, AMG-design two-tone Nappa leather upholstery with nubuck inserts, heated multi-contour sport front seats and AMG-design sand-cast aluminum trim.

The CLK-Class uses a rigid chassis with a strut-type front suspension and a multilink rear. A manual shifter would be nice, but the CLK 500’s seven-speed transmission is a superb substitute, offering lightning-fast gear changes with a tap of the fingers. The convertibles use thick tops that keep out noise and weather, and which drop out of sight behind an automatic, body-coloured tonneau at the flip of a switch. Beautifully designed and delightfully responsive, the CLK-Class is an excellent alternative to the very pricey CL-Class offerings.

The CLK-Class is built in Germany.

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