My long time readers are already aware that I have a veritable stable of vehicles, including my NSX and my Q45. In fact, right now in my driveway there are 1,780 horsepower worth of vehicles just sitting there begging me to take them out and blister some pavement. So last week when I drove up to work at Layered Tech in my new AMG Mercedes it wasn’t really a surprise to my co-workers. But what was a surprise was the fact that I said I made a deal to sell my NSX and my Q45 when I bought it!
I know, it sounds strange that I would actually agree to give up two of my babies for a single new one! On one hand, I have my two-seater, mid-engine, hand-made, exotic-car NSX – the pride of Japan and the only supercar worthy of direct comparison to a Ferrari or Lamborghini to come out of the orient. And on the other hand, I have my top of the line, big-daddy Infinity Q45 with it’s reclining rear seats, laser guided cruise control, and 360 horsepower all-aluminum V8. But you see, the new AMG takes some of the best characteristics from both of these vehicles and combines them into one single car that I think I can live with every day. And that’s a hard thing to find.
Let me brake down a few of the finer points of my two vehicles that I’ve promised to give up – both of which I love. And by that I mean, I have a real emotional attachment to both of them! First, the NSX:
- The looks! The NSX is simply stunning. It is a head turner. When I take it anywhere, people want to stop me and talk about it. People honk and wave at me. Guys drool over it, and the ladies think it’s hot. I’ll put it up against a Ferrari any day. It suits me very well.
- The performance! My NSX was hand made in 1993. It was number 327 that year. And even after 15 years, there are still very few cars that can match it’s performance. It is one of the fastest accelerating, braking, or cornering cars on the road. And I love to go fast. Trust me.
- The exclusivity! When I take my NSX out of the garage, I can rest assured that I will be in the only NSX people see driving by them all day, week, month, or possibly year. Valet’s park my NSX right in front of the building, and they are scared to actually drive it. Enough said.
- The power! Any time that you can pack 5 people in a car and still go zero to 60 in 6 seconds, it’s a great car. The Q is one of the few big family cars that can keep up with small powerful sports cars.
- The gadgets! This car would make James Bond jealous. Remote controlled trunk lid? Check. Heated, reclining rear seats? Check. Voice controlled climate, audio, navigation systems? Check.
- The luxury! This big, powerful car also purrs like a pussycat when I’ve got passengers along for a ride. It’s fantastic both in town, or on the highway, and it’s so quiet and comfortable that it actually routinely puts people to sleep.
The only problem with these two cars is… they are not one single car. I mean, I wish I could get the performance and sheer sex appeal of the NSX into the techno-luxury of the Q. But it isn’t going to happen. Not today. Not ever. So, I did the next best thing and bought a new baby that can at least get me a little closer to nirvana.
Introducing the Mercedes AMG CLK55 Convertible!
This is the part of the article where I could gush on and on about what a cool car I just bought… but instead, I’m going to let other people tell the story. For starters, here’s what Cary Russ from The Auto Channel had to say:
AMG takes the basic Mercedes-Benz and substitutes its own engine, transmission, suspension, and brakes, and makes changes to both interior and exterior styling. Where other CLK models have a 215-hp 3.2-liter V6 (CLK320) or 302-hp 5.0-liter V8 (CLK500), the CLK55 AMG has a specially-tuned 5.5-liter, 362-hp V8. The transmission and suspension are specially modified, and there are subtle (and not so subtle) changes to the bodywork and interior.
But all CLK models share the basic platform, and that’s good news. The second-generation CLK chassis, introduced in coupe form in 2003 and as a cabriolet in 2004, is significantly more rigid than the first generation chassis. I recently spent a week with a CLK55 AMG cabrio. Even with 362 horses and 376 lb-ft of torque, and an exquisitely sport-tuned suspension, the CLK55 AMG cabrio was bank-vault solid, even on bumpy roads.
My time with the CLK55 cabrio was not exactly classic convertible weather – the top stayed up except for one 20-minute window between showers. No matter – any convertible is good when it’s sunny and the top is down, but bad weather is the best time to tell just how well-made a drop-top car is. In any form, the newest CLK cabrio offers first-class comfort and style. In CLK55 trim, add near-supercar performance.
With regards to performance, he said this:
There is a technique in race engine building called “blueprinting”, in which each moving part is matched for weight and dimension. Connecting rods are as close to each other in weight as possible; ditto for pistons and valves. This is pretty much what AMG does to each engine in an AMG Mercedes, and each is hand-assembled by one technician. The result is an engine as smooth and refined as possible, and one that can reliably make more power. And there is no power shortage in the CLK55, with 362 horsepower at 5750 rpm and a very healthy 376 lb-ft of torque peaking at 4000.
That torque gets to the rear wheels by way of an AMG-modified five-speed automatic with adaptive shift logic and “Speedshift” manual mode controlled by buttons on the steering wheel. It shifts significantly more quickly and authoritatively than the standard Mercedes transmission upon which it is based. With all that torque, shifting is an option, not a necessity, but it does add to driving enjoyment. The massive brakes allow the CLK55 to stop as easily as it goes.
When the 2004 model CLK55 won Car and Driver’s high end sports car shootout, here is what they had to say:
This is a giddy, fast four-seater as stern as it is forceful. Toe into it, and you get authoritative acceleration right now, no waiting for the revs to build, no fiddling while the turbos spool up. The sound barks and the seatback shoves your back.
At 3740 pounds, it’s lightest of the three, although the spread to heaviest is only 120 pounds. So this hustler doesn’t make its speed through the method of low mass. Instead, it gets to 60 in 4.5 seconds in the old-fashioned wayâ€”via a big engine, 332 cubic inches, 64 more than the BMW.
The mood is serious, sober, confident, professional, and unsmiling. The CLK’s unique exterior shape tries to say sporty, and maybe it does in an open-necked Ralph Lauren sort of way. But the look is not about taking chances, and the car itself is not about zingy, runabout fun. And it’s not about fashion, either. The interior is black, trimmed precisely in thin lines of bright chrome and frosty sweeps of white metal. The molded materials have textures that say quality, and the dial numbers express the facts with a cool lack of emotion. Everything is correct. That’ll be $80,695, please.
You have the feeling of durable goods. For a certain class of buyer, that’s exactly right. For the sporting crowd, well, the performance results are blue-chip. Acceleration tops the others, and the brakes outstopped them, too. Grip measured 0.87 on the skidpad, very solid for a four-seater, but no match for the stellar BMW. The CLK is poised in the twisties, quite capable, too, but it doesn’t playâ€”it simply takes orders and is careful to avoid encouragement.
This YouTube video sums things up quite nicely with regards to kind of displaying both the beauty and the beast within:
And now, let’s just wrap things up with this report on the cousin to my new car, the AMG CLK55 Black. A stripped down version with a bigger engine. Keep in mind that basically everything Jeremy Clarkson says here applies to my car, only in exchange for a little extra performance, I get to put the top down!
Here are the specs on the vehicle for those of you who are actually interested (according to Motor Trend on a 2003 model):
- 362 horsepower
- 376 lb-ft of torque
- 3635 pounds
- 5.5 liters / 332 cu. in. V8
- 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds
- 60-0 braking in 116 ft
- 1/4 mile, sec@mph: 13.24 @ 107.41
- Skidpad: .83 g
Finally, here are some photos of my new baby. Enjoy!