Mercedes-Benz will soon be making a number of under-the-skin changes to its CLK range to improve the driving dynamics of its two-year old coupé range.

Mercedes-Benz will soon be making a number of under-the-skin changes to its CLK range to improve the driving dynamics of its two-year old coupé range.

The Stuttgart-based manufacturer this week announced that from mid-2004 the CLK Coupé and CLK Cabriolet ranges will be equipped with a six per cent more direct steering ratio, comfort-optimised torque strut bearings at the front axle, larger spring link bearings at the rear axle and a reconfigured ESP system. Steering wheel gearshift buttons and bi-xenon headlamps with cornering light function will be optional extras.

In addition, run-flat tyres combined with an automatic pressure loss warning system will be made available in the CLK-Class for the first time. This system is based on the technology of the ESP and warns the driver via the central display in the event of a sudden pressure loss in one of the tyres. It is claimed that the car will be able to continue for up to 50 kilometres at a maximum speed of 80 km/h following a puncture to one of its tyres.

The CLK 500 model, fitted with a five-litre V8 powerplant, will feature the seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC. Mercedes-Benz claims the new transmission will reduce the CLK 500's acceleration time from zero to 100 km/h, ensure faster overtaking and reduce fuel consumption by up to 0,6 litres per 100 kilometres over its five-speed predecessor.

Claimed performance figures for the CLK 500 Coupé are: 0-100 km/h: 5,9 seconds, 60-120 km/h: 5,2 seconds, with an average fuel consumption figure of 10,9 litres per 100 km. The CLK 500 Cabriolet is claimed to accelerate form standstill to 100 km/h in 6,1 seconds, 60-120 km/h in 5,7 seconds and achieve an average fuel consumption figure of 11,1 litres per 100 km.

Clearcoat-based finish featuring the latest nano-particle technology (also one of the additions to recent C-Class facelift) and a leather-like grain on the interior surfaces adorn the new CLK-Class. Inside, Mercedes-Benz has replaced the previous switches in the centre console with new push-push switches and equipped the control panels for the Thermatic and Thermotronic climate control systems with rotary controls that simplify the adjustment of the temperature, air distribution and fan speed.

There is also a new surround-sound system with twelve (Cabriolet: ten) loudspeakers and 8 x 40 Watt amplifier. In future the Linguatronic voice control system (optional) developed by Mercedes-Benz is also linked to the navigation system, which means that the driver can input the destination address by voice command, for instance.

The flagship CLK 55 AMG has been equipped with an uprated braking system. Composite brakes with floating, internally ventilated grey cast iron discs with a diameter of 340 millimetres are fitted at the front axle. The brake discs are connected to an aluminium bowl and, together with the large surfaces of the linings in the six-piston fixed callipers, provide far better heat resistance. Meanwhile, 330-millimetre internally ventilated discs with four-piston fixed callipers provide the braking at the rear axle.

Developing 270 kW and 510 N.m of torque, the 5,5-litre V8 engine also has a sportier soundtrack by virtue of a new AMG sports exhaust system with its two distinctive twin tailpipes.

There have also been modifications to the chassis and transmission - firmer spring/damper tuning, a seven per cent increase in the steering ratio and as a benefit to enthusiastic drivers, the new AMG Speedshift five-speed automatic transmission does not shift down in the manual transmission mode "M" under full throttle and kick-down. Once a certain engine speed ceiling is reached, the gearbox does not automatically shift up to the next gear.

DCSA's Mercedes media relations manager Shirle Greig told that the updated CLKs would become available on the South African market two to three months after production of the new model commenced in Germany.

Original article from Car