Hot on the heels of the Geneva Show and the international launch in Majorca, DaimlerChrysler chose the equally-beautiful Plettenberg Bay to introduce the Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet to the motoring cognoscenti of South Africa.Hot on the heels of the Geneva Show and the international launch in Majorca, DaimlerChrysler chose the equally-beautiful Plettenberg Bay to introduce the Mercedes-Benz CLK Cabriolet to the motoring cognoscenti of South Africa.

On the subject of heels, Mercedes Benz divisional manager, Dan Moeletsi, gave out some statistics which showed that, apart from being well-heeled, prospective buyers were expected to have an average age of 46, be fashion conscious, and the vast majority would be loyal to the brand.

Not that this car has much opposition, mind you. It truly resides in a class segment of its own.

The new model is longer, wider and higher than its predecessor, and also sports more curvaceous lines. Long hours in the wind tunnel have turned out a drag coefficient of 0,30. A test drive of both the new and the old models confirmed that, not only is the latest creation more rigid, as felt over poor road surfaces, but also quieter, with no noticeable wind buffeting provided that the rear screen is raised.

The hood, which consists of a triple layer roof lining and aluminium frame, is operated by activating only one switch with no final locking of the windscreen rail necessary, as was the case with the previous model. Only 20 seconds is needed to close the roof, and three seconds fewer to open it. In the event of a power failure, the procedure can be manually completed.

Rear seats are individually sculptured for two with 44 mm extra knee room than before, resulting in a comfortable four-seater cruiser.

The rear headrests, which can be manually raised, are retracted automatically when the roof is closed and act as spring loaded roll-over bars in the event of a accident.

South African motorists are offered the CLK 320 (R608 000) and 500 (R690 000) derivates with the Elegance package as standard. Both the 3,2-litre V6, which develops peak power of 160 kW and 310 N.m of torque, and the V8, producing 225 kW and 460 N.m, are mated with a five-speed automatic transmission equipped with a Touchshift function and Standard or Comfort driver settings.

The CLK Cabriolet comes with full leather trim, automatic climate control with outlets in the rear, bi-xenon headlights with headlamp assist, a rain sensor, cruise control with Speedtronic and integrated Comand APS navigation and audio system.

Options include proximity cruise control (Distronic), keyless access and drive authorisation (Keyless-Go), Linguatronic voice control for the telephone and satellite navigation system, intelligent automatic climate control (Thermotronic – standard on CLK 500), and parking assistance (Parktronic).

Apart from the sensor-controlled rollover bar, safety features comprise adaptive front, head and thorax airbags with side airbags in the rear, ESP and ASR systems, ABS with brake assist, and belt tensioners and force limiters.

Original article from Car