The whole world may be going crazy for the latest Harry Potter book, but not me. My current bedtime reading is an even lengthier affair than JK Rowling's 607-page epic. I'm ploughing my way through the owner's manual for our long-term Mercedes CLK270 CDI - all 782 pages of it.
No, I'm not joking. In all, there are five separate hand-books, including a 238-page guide to the COMAND satellite-navigation system, as well as the 434-page owner's manual. So why, given that the Merc has now been with us for three months and covered more than 5,500 miles, do I find myself spending hours poring over the literature?
Well, I'm trying to get to the bottom of all the electrical operating systems. Most are straight-forward, but everyone who has driven the CLK has found the buttons around the screen fiddly to use and the sat-nav voice impossible to turn off. While I now know that pressing and holding the mute button turns off the audible directions, I am still com-pletely stumped by the Bluetooth link.
This should allow me to do away with having an unsightly hands-free kit wrapped around my ear, but I've struggled to get the system to work. The car detects my phone, yet despite ploughing through the manual on several occasions, it won't function properly.
A phone call to Mercedes clarified the matter. At the moment, the company isn't happy with the connectivity - so, although there's a Bluetooth button, the system has been disabled until the technology works flawlessly. It's not only the complex controls I'm struggling with. The manual backrest adjustment for the seat is really badly positioned. The knob is on the side of the chair, down by the centre console, and it's very difficult to reach.
Still, these gripes aside, the CLK270 remains a very desirable car. I love the interior design, the comprehensive trip computer and the extending arm that automatically presents the seatbelt.
As we mentioned in the last report, the ageing five-cylinder diesel is rather rough, and the extra miles haven't changed that - nor improved the economy much: it's risen from 30.5 to 32.3mpg. However, Mercedes has launched a new 3.0-litre V6 diesel, and it's a much superior powerplant. Perhaps it's time to consider an upgrade?
I really don't get on very well with our long-term CLK Coup�. The five-cylinder diesel isn't refined under acceleration, there's too much lag when pulling away from traffic lights and the flat front seats need more lateral support. It's practical, but I also think the CLK is a touch dull - which a coup� shouldn't be.
Piers Ward, road tester