DaimlerChrysler SA is set to follow up its CLK 55 AMG with the launch of CLK cabriolet derivatives in mid-July.

DaimlerChrysler SA is set to follow up its barnstorming CLK 55 AMG with the launch of CLK cabriolet derivatives in mid-July.

Mercedes-Benz claims the car, which will make its international debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, will set the benchmark in its class in terms of interior noise, thermal insulation and all-round visibility.

As with the coupé, the cabriolet is bigger than the model it replaces, with extra headroom in front and additional leg and elbow space around the two individual back seats.

But in contrast to the previous model, the fabric roof – which will be available in black, blue or grey trim – will no longer require manual intervention to lock it to the top of the windscreen. This function will be performed automatically by an hydraulic unit. Reports say it will offer the facility of opening or closing the roof by remote control by pressing a button on the key fob.

Approximately 40 per cent of the body panels are of high-strength steel alloys and the torsional rigidity of the bodyshell - an important indicator of handling characteristics and vibration comfort - has been improved by some 12 per cent compared to the preceding series, the Stuttgart firm’s officials say.

Two trim levels - Elegance and Avantgarde – will be available. Automatic climate control with outlets in the rear, headlamp assist, a rain sensor, cruise control with Speedtronic, a reach and height-adjustable multifunction steering wheel with illuminated operating keys and a central display for individual settings will be standard.

The optional equipment list include proximity cruise control (Distronic), keyless access and drive authorisation (Keyless-Go), navigation and audio systems (Comand APS), Linguatronic voice control for the telephone and satellite navigation system, intelligent automatic climate control (Thermotronic) with a sun sensor and new bi-xenon headlamps.

A choice of five engines, with outputs ranging from 125 kW to 274 kW, will be offered on the international market. Mercedes-Benz claims the CLK 500 will scamper from zero to 100 km/h from standstill in 6,2 seconds - an improvement of 1,2 seconds – and the CLK 55 AMG range-topper does the dash in 5,4 seconds.

Standard safety features includes a sensor-controlled rollover bar, as well as head and chest airbags. Sixteen-inch light-alloy wheels will feature at the front and rear (205/55 R 16 and 225/50 R 16 tyres) of the majority of models.

Exceptions are the V8-engined CLK 500, which will be fitted with 17-inch wheels, and the CLK 55 AMG, which will feature 18-inch alloys.

DaimlerChrysler SA spokesman Shirle Greig told CARtoday.com on Tuesday that consumers could expect to see the CLK Cabriolet in South African showrooms by the middle of July.

Two derivates of the cabriolet, the CLK 320 and CLK 500, will be offered in South Africa, Greig said, adding that prices for the models would be announced at a later date.

Original article from Car