1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK Elegance 3.2 V6 from UK and Ireland
Great for first time MB owners - Heavy on your pocket at times
Oil cooler developed a leak, which caused premature failure of the auxiliary belt. When the belt snapped, it took the top support pulley with it, and completely covered the engine in oil.
Anti roll bar bushes have just gone, and are booked in to be changed next week.
When selecting 'D', the engine bogs down and the car vibrates badly. Suspected engine/transmission mount or drive shaft donut, which is being investigated when the bushes are done.
Both door seals have slightly collapsed causing wind noise at speed - this could be remedied by replacing the seals, but the cost outweighs the benefit on a car of this vintage.
N/S door, wood trim has cracked and come away from the door card - this had to be cleaned up, reshaped and re attached with strong adhesive.
Front parking sensors occasionally glitch out in the wet (presumably water movement across the sensor when first used?).
Cruise control only works under 49mph; go above this and it engages, then immediately disengages. No idea why, as I have yet to investigate.
Driver's door electric window sometimes doesn't slide up in one go on the 'one-touch' function. I understand that these have a function built in to stop the trapping of limbs etc. It's possible that the window is slightly loose in the runner, which has caused it to come out of alignment - I might try greasing up the runners to see if this helps reduce friction.
To set the scene I have a CLK 320 Elegance Auto. Silver with 17" AMG alloys. A previous owner has resprayed the bottom half of the car so it's completely colour coded, and doesn't have that hideous black strip that the early models have. For this reason alone, it's one of the smartest I've seen.
Despite the above niggles, I absolutely love this car. It's comfortable, quick, and really does look fantastic. Having come straight out of a 1996 Peugeot 406 1.9DT, I felt a million dollars for the first 2k miles. Although I don't feel like a million dollars now, I certainly am proud to own a Mercedes. It feels better than I thought and less common than my previous E39 BMW. For my first Mercedes Benz, I'm very pleased indeed. I know the above list of niggles looks horrific, but to be honest most of this is through wear and tear and the car's age. I personally like my cars to be like new, so fix and fettle as things crop up (or when I get around to it/weather permits).
I was surprised that the fuel economy wasn't worse, being such a large engine for modern standards, however I can drive from Norwich to London (110 miles) and only use about 3mm from the top of the gauge. This obviously means keeping the speed under 75mph.
Good economy seems to be achieved by the fact that at 75mph, the engine is doing 2500rpm.
Urban and mixed driving tells a completely different story, and driving it hard will leave you stopping at every other Shell garage in town!
The steering is slightly heavier than I would like, but I'll put this down to the fact that it's running on 245 wide tyres. That said, the steering is very direct with a point and shoot attitude.
Now that I've changed the budget tyres to Kumho Ecsta SPT all around, the road handling and grip is much better and the ride is quieter.
Overall interior ambiance is good, and I like the 'all-in-one' indicator/wiper/full beam stalk. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, it makes sense. Rear visibility leaves a lot to be desired when reversing up and out of the driveway, but take it easy and make good use of the mirrors, and you're OK. The front and rear parking sensors are a god send, as the rump is difficult to place, and the bonnet is simply colossal!
My car comes with some optional extras; I have full dual zone climate control - which is fiddly when driving, and you have to crank up the temp to achieve a comfortable experience. I would personally prefer this to be more like the climate in the BMW E39, which I had before the Pug, and found more ergonomic. A sunroof and the front and rear parking sensors as previously mentioned. It would have been nice to have heated seats, but you can't have everything at this price!
Switches on the centre console and dash are well placed and easy to use when keeping your full attention on the road.
I like the way the car handles on the twisty bits, but beware of greasy roads, else you'll come a cropper!! Overall ride is a little harsh around town and on abused roads. Again, I would put this down to the large and low profile rubber.
Because the wheels are so large, tramlining can be a real bitch in the wet. When I first bought the Merc on 27/08/2011, I was driving home from London when I hit a section of the A11 which had massive troughs in the carriageway, usually caused by heavy HGV's constant use. Because it was raining and the rear tyres were of the budget persuasion, the car started to fish tail at 70mph. This was obviously somewhat alarming!!!
In summary, this is a great car that just leaves you ogling it at every opportunity. I still can't help but look back at it when I leave it in the office car park. Much more attractive than its replacement W209 model.
Would I buy another W208? Probably not to be honest. They are getting old now and rust can be an issue, although mine has all been done, so the bodywork is in good condition overall.
If I can afford to have another Merc in the future, then I'll be very tempted by the CLS320 CDi, which I've had my eyes on now for sometime!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 7th January, 2012