1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK Reviews

1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK Elegance 3.2 V6 from UK and Ireland

Model year1998
Year of manufacture1998
First year of ownership2011
Most recent year of ownership2012
Engine and transmission 3.2 V6 Automatic
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 7 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.5 / 10
Distance when acquired110000 miles
Most recent distance114000 miles
Previous carPeugeot 406

Summary:

Great for first time MB owners - Heavy on your pocket at times

Faults:

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.

General Comments:

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

1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK 320 from North America

Model year1998
Year of manufacture1998
First year of ownership1998
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission Don't Know
Performance marks 10 / 10
Reliability marks 0 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Dealer Service marks 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.5 / 10
Distance when acquired0 miles
Most recent distance104000 miles

Summary:

I miss my old '98 CLK..

Faults:

A lot of things : (

General Comments:

As I mentioned above, I had many, many problems, but I loved my '98 CLK. I got a new one, which is nice and very reliable, but it just doesn't look as good as the old one...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th March, 2006

8th Mar 2006, 01:18

A lot of problems such as...??? Please try to be precise in your writing; share your experiences so that many prospective buyers may benefit from our (bad or good) experiences.

8th Mar 2006, 04:15

Very interesting and informative!!

Not.

8th Mar 2006, 09:46

The CLK is an odd duck in the car world. It has some of the worst reliablity of any Mercedes ever, yet it has one of the highest resale values today and its owners are fanatic about the car.

It offers that great Mercedes feel, but you will certainly pay for it in maintenance costs.

Average review marks: 7.0 / 10, based on 5 reviews