By on August 27, 2007

497935_872147_2835_1883_07c739_050.jpgMy co-pilot sat motionless, stupefied from the previous night's revelry. Strangely, this poor fellow thought I could be trusted not to challenge Alka-Seltzer's restorative powers. I allowed him the luxury of this delusion all the way from the hotel to the highway. And then I floored it. The CLK Black Series' engine bellowed WAKE UP FOOL! The uber-bad Benz' back end quivered from side to side. The traction control light sent a steady stream of Morse code through first, second and third gear. The ten second wake-up call placed us well north of 100 mph. The jobbing journo groaned his disapproval. God I love this work!

Of course, any pistonhead who's ever inhaled the smell of burning brakes in the morning and identified it as "victory" knows that AMG on a Benz' butt guarantees straight-line firepower. To that end, the CLK Black Series boasts a near-as-dammit 6.3-liter V8, modded to produce 500 horsepower and 465 ft.-lbs. of torque. But this time, the boys from Affalterbach have wrought something a little different: "a track car adapted for use over the road." Stimmt?

497937_872153_2835_1883_07c739_067.jpgStimmt. The carbon-covered cabin's cornering bias is immediately identifiable by its miniaturized seats, steering wheel and transmission stalk. Despite its diminutive diameter, the leather-clad, square-bottomed helm is a superb addition to the AMG canon (cannon?). The CLK BS' racing-derived chairs are less successful. Even this 140-pound test pilot found the hard shell seat incredibly confining; the side bolsters are ended right around my armpit, resulting in non-stop elbows akimbo. My 200-pound compadre moaned about his back throughout our journey.   

Those of you who say shaddup– adding lightness is the best way to get a sedan to sprint from rest to sixty in 4.1 seconds– don't speak AMG. Yes, AMG's Black arts artists fitted lightweight forged alloy wheels, removed the back seat and carbon-fibered the brake cooling ducts, rear spoiler and rear apron. But the CLK BS is 228 lbs. heavier than a CLK500. 

497927_872123_2835_1883_07c739_0012.jpgAll that extra heft is deployed in pursuit of handling. We're spreching three transverse chassis reinforcements and a new multi-plate limited slip differential. There's also a trick adjustable suspension that allows changes to the CLK's ride height, camber, toe-in and shock dampers' compression and rebound. Provided you're a mechanic in a tuning shop, AMG says "you" can transform the CLK AMG 63 Black Series from a road-compliant commuter to a track-ready monster in an hour or less.

The out-of-the-box, on-the-road solution is insane. Anyone who wants, needs or thinks he could use more lateral grip on a public road should have their license revoked on general principle. The steering is a shout-out to Porsche: "we could match your helm feel on all our cars; we simply choose not to." And the brakes– including 360mm ceramic front discs with six-piston calipers– could stop an evangelical preacher mid-syllable.

497923_872111_2835_1883_07c739_135.jpgI saved my comments about the tranny for last because I liked it the least. No doubt the 7G-Tronic's stubby lever looks cool, but since it is made of aluminum, looks can be deceiving, especially on a hot day. Worse, it feels flimsy. The first time I waggled it sideways to shift the gears, it felt like I was giving the car a prostate exam. Fortunately, the paddles behind the steering wheel are beefy and loads of fun to press. The seven-speed even blips the throttle for downshifts, DSG-style.

Driving the CLK Black Series over serpentine mountain back roads near Half Moon Bay, I hereby solemnly swear that Mercedes can build a car that is not solemn and will make you swear. If nothing else, the CLK BS sounds like the unholy off-spring of a Mercedes – NASCAR union, complete with popping backfires during engine braking. But there's plenty else, and all of it makes this car weapons-grade ammunition for drivers determined to murder corners and terminate straights (with extreme prejudice).

In fact, the CLK Black Series is a slap in the face of BMW's new M3– albeit at a daunting price.

497940_872162_2835_1883_07c739_091.jpgYes, there is that. At $130k, the CLK Black Series asks for a 150 percent premium over the CLK 350, and demands $40k more of your hard-earned money than the CLK 63 Cabriolet, which packs a "detuned" version of the same engine. Mercedes has sold all 350 U.S.-bound CLK BS– ensuring that your "investment" will seem cheap compared to the resale market. But the onset of AMG's traditional cliff-face depreciation curve can not be forever delayed.

There are now 15 models in the AMG line. Die-hards (literally) will be glad to hear that more Black Series AMG cars are on their way. While the CLK 63 AMG Black Series is a very special car, it's worth waiting for these details to be applied to a more interesting chassis, like the SL-class, before making the jump to hyperspace.

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35 Comments on “Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Black Series Review...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    A sweet “alternate” ride for the private equity guys when the Ferrari is in for detailing………

  • avatar

    indi500fan:
    All 350 of them apparently. :)

    I vote the “Driving the CLK Black Series…” paragraph as the single most entertaining paragraph in all of TTAC’s reviews. We have 3 home-run descriptive sentences here that are truly words of poetry.

    Great write up. I wonder if one will show up on leasetrader.com in a few months for $3.5k/mo.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    I waiting for the R63 AMG BS.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Jay, very well said. Great write up. Thanks.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Wow, that’s a serious ride. Thanks Jay.

    And somehow I don’t think this one will depreciate like other AMG Benzos either. Wow.

  • avatar
    Hippo

    The AMG black series Unimog ist mehr cool.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Wow CLK (Pronounce “Silk” for street name).

    Well nice car and review but I feel Like a D.O.M (Dirty Old Man) with a young blonde with me.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    I choose to ignore this car like I choose to ignore bentley’s, roll’s, and maybach’s…

    My salary, no matter how many multiples may apply to it in my lifetime, will never justify the expense on a car with such mixed emotions.

    A special series for the purposes of a special series helps define the word “special” when used in the form “education”.

    In other words, it’s stupid. But God Bless Mercedes; they have single-handedly reinvented the need to put larger and larger engines in otherwise staid sedans, coupes, convertibles. Now they’re just adding some “sick” in the form of quality suspension, steering, and braking.

    Jay, I’m surprised Merc didn’t opt for some pneumatic seats i.e. BMW M5. Comfort and lateral support. Higher weight, true. But who needs a passenger anyway?

    Joe

    Joe

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Another great read, Jay. Thanks.

    In all my years of examining prostates, I’ve never once equated that with shifting gears. Now I have to find out for myself if Jay’s analogy holds true for me.

    Like I didn’t already have enough reasons to want to try on a CLK BS.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    So let me understand this, MB has so tarnished the AMG name by slapping an AMG badge on just about anything and everything sold in the MB dealership that they now need the “Black Series” to revive the AMG name to actually mean something again.

    I know that I might be in the minority here but what the hell has happened to MB over the last 10 years? What was once the premire automaker of the world has morphed into a sorry Toyota/Lexus like company with a “full” lineup of car and (bite my tongue) trucks of which NONE are truly class leading anymore. This same company has done much to reduce the cache of an AMG tuned Benz to that of the equivalent of a Chevy SS model. Someone please tell me they remember AMG from the 1980s when it was a seperate company that made such delights back then like the 6.0 Hammer.

    The way I see it, if MB is trying to be a full scale automaker like Toyota or GM what is the point of MB? At the rate that Toyota is pushing and continuously improving its Lexus line MB will be in serious brand image trouble in the very near future? A premium automaker needs to be able to justify it premium price. Nevermind people ability to pay said price, the product must be better or offer more is some decernable way for people to continue to see it as special. IMHO MB is losing what made it special in the first place.

    In the last 10 years MB has been trying to position itself as a “performance brand” forgettting the simple fact that the vast majority of its customers throughout the world could carless if their Benz can outperform a BMW. What made MB the brand that it is was building the best cars in the world. Cars that NEVER said “cheap”. The luxury and premium of this brand was the feeling that you were owning something that was engineered better than the competition. A Cadiilac was alway more “plush” than a Benz but a plush POS is not “premium”. MB plush was a car that would ALWAYS start and would run forever, a car that would hold up and look good for twenty years. Today’s Benzs are just plain cheap(er). The paint fades, the trim falls off, the electronics breakdown, chome pieces are now applied to the car with glue, the interiors feel like upmarket japanese cars from the 1980s, yet the prices are still tops in the market?

    Please MB go back to just making the best cars. Make AMG an independent company again. Let them create there magic on the proper cars, no more AMG RLs. The automotive world will be a better place.

    Oh, the CLK BS is fast though.

  • avatar
    Turbo G

    The resale horrors of the AMG line speak volumes about its true value in the marketplace. However it does make for some interesting “bargains” at nearly half off their original MSRP such as the CL class….

  • avatar
    murphysamber

    Hmmm…I was thinking of buying a condo (in SE Michigan). This would probably be just as hard to get out of in another couple of years. Decisions, decisions…

  • avatar
    AGR

    Great Review!

    whatdoiknow1, well said as you surely know AMG is now owned by M-B no longer a seperate independent entity.

    The AMG phenomenon is an example of if a small number is good, a larger number must be better, lets AMG every model good way of making more money.

  • avatar
    Seth

    Jay, how does CL55 AMG compare to this CLK63? Just curious..

    BTW, great review… best testosterone laden one yet…

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    It’s too bad that Mercedes can’t run in NASCAR. It would be interesting to see what this car could do on a circle track. Of course, it doesn’t fit into that ridiculous new “car of tomorrow” template although it has a lot more going on. Thanks for a interesting and fun-to-read piece, Jay!

  • avatar
    shoes

    The CL is a much more refined automobile than the CLK. For the over 50 set, the CL would be the chassis of choice. For those who want to embarrass M3 drivers, I would recommend the CLK.

  • avatar
    Qusus

    Would anyone like to trade their AMG Black Series for my 1997 Toyota Tercel?

  • avatar
    partsisparts

    We have a BS CLK at the MB dealer I where I work. The car sounds awsome! It reaks with I AM BAD. I agree with Jay about the shifter. Great review Jay!

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    “And the brakes – including 360mm ceramic front discs with six-piston calipers – could stop an evangelical preacher mid-syllable.”

    This is definitely among Jay’s all-time 10-best lines to date, IMHO.

    I vote him above J. Clarkson, who is irreverent but crazy. (I read him more for his comments on British life than on automobiles.) C&D also tries but its guys can only wish that they can come up with such phrases as often as Jay can.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Awesome review, but this puts me even further into the “mercedes, wtf? No seriously, wtf?” camp. I just wonder about their market for these type of cars.

    I also hope for this kinda money they improved the interior over the base CLK. My father-in-law recently picked up a new CLK55 for ~$65k…and while blazingly smooth and quick for its heft, the interior materials (except the seat leather) are severely lacking next to my 10-year-old $27k Passat. I also find the steering feel in all late model Mercs I’ve driven–mostly E-class, but also CLK–to be bland and detached.

    The old man’s ’66 230SL Pagoda still gets me excited though, at a fraction of the speed.

  • avatar
    fredthread

    True, this Benz looks fast. But if you really want speed, then you should check out the new Jag Portfolio:

  • avatar
    fredthread

    sorry, here’s the link:

    http://www.mensvogue.com/design/articles/2007/08/jaguar

  • avatar
    fredthread

    Ok, this benz looks fast, but if you really want speed, try

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    I still don’t see the point of making a sporting car this deadly serious and then saddling the thing with an automatic. A decent manual adds twice the involvement of a bigger engine and stiffened legs.

  • avatar
    allwheeldrive

    Wow, great article Jay, sounds like a great car. I would be on whatdoiknow1′s side though, MB has serious image issue (here in Europe as well) due to the blandness of their enry level models and most importantly to their reliability and quality of finish. Besides you’d need to be 65+ before to order one.
    Audi seems more and more to bring all the answers. I recently drove the S5, S8 and…R8 on a race track at a recent Audi Sportscar Event and the dynamism of the Brand, the people and the cars comes as a breath of fresh air.
    I drive an RS4 (since last month only) and (although I haven’t tried it) I wouldn’t swope it for this twice-the-price AMG, black series or otherwise.

  • avatar
    partlowr

    My best friend just picked up his CLK 63 Black Series last Tuesday afternoon. WOW that thing is faaaaast! I own a 2007 M6, we lined up and it was somewhat close from a dead stop, the benz got me by about 2 car lenghts over about 1000 feet. From a roll on it’s a differnt story. We rolled on from about 60 mph up to 100mph, the benz opened up about 8 car lengths. That thing has so much torque, and as you are all aware the M6 is no slouch. Very imressive.

  • avatar
    partlowr

    To P.J McCombs; you obviously have not driven any of the new supercars with their ultra high tech automatics and SMG transmissions. With these “autotmatics” you get the best of both worls, seamless, perfect upshifts with the ability to downshift on command. Besides, F1 cars are using the same technology, if a manual was faster or better don’t you think they would be using them?

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    Whether you’re driving a supercar or an economy car, the reality is that we’re usually limited to driving between 25 and 80 MPH on public roads. Unlike F1, “faster” isn’t the priority. “More fun” is.

    Certainly, flicking an SMG or DSG paddle with your finger gets you to that next gear much faster than you could do by depressing a clutch, grabbing a lever and slotting into that next year with your hand, and squeezing on more power while skillfully releasing the floodgates with your left foot.

    It also has all the passion and involvement of selecting channel 5 on your Tivo remote.

  • avatar
    allwheeldrive

    Audi have just unveiled the new RS6. v10 5.2 twin-turbo… 572 bhp @ 6,250 rpm and 480lb of torque available from 1,500rpm… I repeat 1,500 rpm… can’t wait to see a duel between these 2!

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I waiting for the R63 AMG BS.

    Or having a AMG 63 in a ML.

    With such a powerful engine in a only go straight body, it can turn but not with pedal to metal like a go kart or something with high lateral Gs.It’ll make more sense to put a Jet engine in it.

    What is the real reason for 7 or 8 speed?

    Will it change speed every 10 secs? Its only going to make the tranny worn out quicker.

    I guess they’re marketing these cars to people with lots of money and very little brain.

  • avatar
    Ron Tridico

    Got mine today, I bought it for my 18 year old son, then decided on the way home to give him my SL65. I might let him drive it someday.

  • avatar
    westhighgoalie

    This car gives me a nerd-gasm every time one drives by! Mind Numbing power AND a luxurious interior! *shudder* *drool*

  • avatar
    huy

    Few cars have ever evoked such special feelings from me. Its not the fastest or flashiest or best handling car out there, but it is my favorite. Everything comes together so perfectly to make this one a truly special car. Part of the beauty is you can drive this car daily and not be punished by costly maintenance like that of a Ferrari.

  • avatar

    Expensive? Yes Amazing? Without a doubt!

    For the lucky few who can afford such cars, this offers something that many cars in this price range doesn’t. Exclusivity. Sure there are Porsche Turbos and Astons, etc. but in most parts of the country where these cars roam, they are considered “dime a dozen”. The Black Series is something that you don’t see everyday no matter where you are

    Check out this nice walkaround video of the CLK63 AMG Black Series.

  • avatar
    adkx

    Just to correct this article. The correct number of Mercedes CLK 63 Black Series ever built is only 300 worldwide. Mercedes built only 300 pieces worldwide. You can also read Jeremy Clarkson’s (tall guy from Top Gear) article on New Times (see link below). He too notes: “of which only 300 were built”. How does he know? Jeremy owns one; as he also states on his article. So, the part on this article about the “350 sold to the U.S.” is incorrect. Since 300 CLK Black series were built worldwide, I would be surprised if more than 100 pieces of these made it to the States. Realistically, I would probably say much less than 100 in the States. After all, Mercedes has to sell to Europe, Arab Emirates, Australia, Asian Continents/Countries. There are a lot of people in the rest of the world that Mercedes would like to satisfy, along with us here in the States. Even 100 of those in the States, it would be 33% of the total produced, which is more than great! Cheers! Here is Jeremy Clarkson’s link from his article on New Times: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/driving/jeremy_clarkson/article6907705.ece


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