Mercedes CLK

This track-focused Mercedes boasts searing performance and well judged styling additions

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

As you'd expect from a car designed to set the pace at Formula One races around the world, the track-focused Mercedes boasts searing performance and well judged styling additions. The Black Series is sure to be a hit with wealthy Mercedes fans, and the highly tuned newcomer will be a rare sight on British roads, so exclusivity is also guaranteed. However, despite its undoubted talents, the anticipated £100,000 price tag could leave those lucky enough to afford one feeling somewhat short-changed.

Not many road cars can stay ahead of a Formula One racer! But this AMG-tuned Mercedes is a track-ready refugee that claims it can do just that.

While the CLK 63 AMG Black Series isn't a competition model, it is inspired by the official F1 safety car. So, it'll be familiar to motorsport fans - and from June, you might even see one on your high street, too.

Plenty of visual clues mark out this ultimate CLK. If you don't spot the revised front bumper and carbon fibre spoiler, the Black Series' flared arches, alloys and quad exhausts are unmissable. A low stance and large vents give it an almost menacing edge.

That impression doesn't change when you start its 6.2-litre V8. With 26bhp over the standard CLK 63, the 0-62mph sprint has been cut by 0.3 seconds to 4.3 seconds. Specially developed suspension means ride comfort is impressive on all but the worst roads, and the Black Series offers massive grip and excellent body control.

Despite this, the V8 requires gentle use of the throttle to avoid triggering the ESP stability control when leaving tight bends. Accurate steering and powerful composite brakes complete the dynamic package, while AMG's experts have also made the paddleshift gearbox even quicker.

However, given the CLK's supercar-rivalling pace and handling, its interior is remarkably like that of the standard model. The good news is that the two sports seats (the rears were ditched to aid weight distribution) are supportive, and there's a bespoke gear selector on the centre console. Even so, no additions manage to mask the standard CLK architecture.

This would be less of a problem were it not for the cost. The Black Series' estimated price is £100,000, putting it up against a host of mean machines. The same figure buys an eye-catching Audi R8 or a track-bred Porsche 911 with change to spare. In comparison, the CLK struggles: despite the appeal of its excellent handling, terrific performance and engineering, it all comes at too high a price.

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