By on August 29, 2006

clk63amgc06_01.jpg The Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Cabriolet is like a woman with large, perfectly shaped breasts. No matter how much you try to talk about her other qualities, your attention keeps returning to one thing: the engine’s enormous peak output. The CLK holsters AMG’s first purpose-built powerplant, a normally aspirated mill good for 475 horsepower (507 in its less restricted sibilings). As usual, it’s assembled in Affalterbach by one satanic mechanic, whose name is stamped on a plate affixed to the engine block. In another nod to heritage, the “63” represents the engine’s displacement rounded up from 6.2-liters; homage to the legendary 300 SEL 6.3 produced by Mercedes-Benz from 1968-1972. That’s some heavy heritage.

clk63amgc06_02.jpg In fact, the 63 is the highest output engine ever offered in a U.S. CLK (Europe is blessed with the blindingly bonkers 600hp CLK DTM). Prior to 2007, the CLK 55 AMG was the King of The Hill for this body style, serving well-heeled enthusiasts with 362 horsepower and 376 lb.-ft. of torque. Now? AMG's 63 continues the German horspower wars. You see? We’re back to those 475 horses. Oh, and 465 ft-lbs. of twist @ 5200 rpm.

All this power foretells gargantuan performance. In this, the CLK 63 does not disappoint. Mercedes estimates the 3960 lbs. CLK AMG ragtop will hit sixty miles per hour from rest in 4.5 seconds. The soundtrack accompanying this feat lies somewhere between “Days of Thunder” and “Grand Prix”: raspy and guttural, fierce and ferocious. Tether that glorious noise to the CLK’s gut-punching acceleration and, well, trying to recreate that factory stat is an altogether pleasing, entirely addictive experience. You can get into a great deal some serious trouble with this package.

clk63amg06_int.jpg And feel smug doing so. Beefy, heavily bolstered seats slathered with premium quality leather coupled with a thick, perfectly shaped steering wheel (sporting the requisite overly large paddle shifters) make it so. As does the ride quality, which maintains Merc’s plush bump suppression despite sitting on AMG’s 18” wheels shod with super wide rubber (225/40 at the front and 255/35 at the rear). The CLK 63 also delivers epic retardation and stupefying levels of adhesion. Only fuel economy– 13/20 miles per gallon– spoils the fun. Social responsibility aside, that’s roughly 200 miles between refills.

 The problems begin with a price tag that leaves little change from $100,000. That’s a lot of wedge for a vehicle that begins life as the CLK 350. More to the point, rather than struggling to change water into wine, you could use your 100 large to buy a prestigious, purpose-built sports car. Although I’d miss the rumble and roar of the 63’s V8 (see?), I can more easily imagine a full-on, six-cylinder Porsche 911 in my garage than a CLK 63.

clk63amgc06_03.jpg To make matters worse, the 2007 Mercedes CLK 550 coupe is the better car for $35k less. Its 5.5-liter V8 puts out 382hp and 391 lb.-ft. of torque. With 240 less pounds and a stiffer body shell, the CLK 550 is still plenty potent. Interior color choices are more plentiful. The seats are easier for entry and exit and softer on the bottom. The CLK 550’s soundtrack is equally appealing (it’s a dead ringer for Mustang in “Bullitt”). You even get the oversized paddle shifters and seven-speed transmission.

While we’re at it, the CLK 63’s new, normally aspirated V8 doesn’t leapfrog AMG’s latest 5.5-liter supercharged V8, which pumps-out 516 ft.-lbs. of torque for a wide variety of models (E55, CLS55, S55). Unless you struggle to drive the 55 smoothly from rest or require slightly higher high end performance, the 63 is an expensive extravagance. If you want an AMG-tweaked Merc to overwhelm the tires and assault your neighborhood with clouds of expensive tire smoke and leering power slides, the 63 variants aren’t likely to get your hoonage juices flowing.

clk63amgc06_04.jpgI’m a big fan of AMG products; I’ve owned eight so far. From a practiced pistonhead’s perspective, the in-house tuner’s greatest limitation is Mercedes itself. When Mercedes releases an SL550, AMG does the SL55; the CL600 is countered by the CL65; the E550 is met by the E63 and so on. AMG is not advancing the art of high performance automobiles, only taking existing technology to more expensive and extreme levels.

In fact, AMG seems to have hit a plateau. While the CLK 63 and its equally engined siblings offer 23% more mind-blowing torque and 31% more hp than the 55’s, the 63 is not significantly better– in spite of the significantly higher price and swooning depreciation. I’d love to see AMG kick out the jams and build a purpose built, light weight performance automobile. Something that allows its drivers to focus their minds on something other than sheer engine grunt. If Mercedes wants to keep abreast of performance trends, it’s the way to go.

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17 Comments on “Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Cabriolet Review...”

  • avatar
    Matthew Neundorf

    AMG Tweaked Motors are a thing of aural beauty. Some of the best memories of F1 weekends from years past are of the 55’s powering out of the hairpin at Cirquit Gilles Villeneuve during practice and formation laps.

    Can’t wait to wind up a 63 for myself.

  • avatar

    The 63’s V8 is not just tweaked by AMG, but it’s the ever engine that was fully developed by AMG. I just wonder what will happen if Brabus would add a couple of turbo chargers to that beast.

    Also, there were rumors in the past, that AMG is building a successor to the 1955 Gullwing 300 SL. This car would definately still be based on a real world Mercedes, but I guess that if this will happen, it would be the closest thing to an AMG car.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Well said, Jay! I agree that AMG’s one-upmanship is starting to get silly, especially since you can get an AMG style sport package on most every Mercedes. The problem is Mercedes already makes wonderfully fast Q-ships. But who would buy a stripped down, de-contented AMG version just for more performance? That’s what BMWs and Porsches are for.

    I guess if AMG is still turning a profit, it doesn’t matter. Depreciation isn’t their problem!

  • avatar
    Jay Shoemaker

    I spent some time with the guys running AMG last year. They told me that AMG was the largest seller of cars priced over $100,000 in the world. This statement foretold my biggest concern for the marque- that they are chasing market share and losing sight of their consumer. AMG is becoming less special and more of just a brand, and the merchandising seems to be as important as the engineering.

    I still drink the AMG Kool AId. I love their product and admire the company. I think they have gotten carried away with their pricing and owners will suffer depreciation shock only so long before it starts to impact on new car sales. I don’t understand the need to slap AMG on everything and hope they soon realize that, like Ferrari, small can be beautiful and even more special.

  • avatar

    “The Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Cabriolet is like a woman with large, perfectly shaped breasts. No matter how much you try to talk about her other qualities, your attention keeps returning to one thing…”

    So true, so true…

    But for the price, you have PLENTY of choices in the class…Z06 anyone? 911S? 911S cab? GT3? Maseratti? Modena? M6?

    But I’ve seen my share of $180K SL65AMG’s (and 120K+ SL55’s) in San Francisco to know that there will be buyers for this new babe. After all, “no matter how much you try to talk about her other qualities, your attention keeps returning to one thing…”


  • avatar

    Am I the only one here who does not like the funky on steering audio and crusie control buttons on all the mercs. (except S class) What an ugly view!

  • avatar

    I’m pretty sure that it’s the SL65 AMG that is $180K, not the SL55 AMG. Anyone?


  • avatar


    In your comment, you first say, that AMG isn’t special enough anymore, then you say that they get carried away in terms of pricing.

    Isn’t a higher price the best way to become more special?

  • avatar

    “The Mercedes CLK 63 AMG Cabriolet is like a woman with large, perfectly shaped breasts. No matter how much you try to talk about her other qualities, your attention keeps returning to one thing: the engine’s enormous peak output.”


  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Oh. Really. I’m withholding comment til I read about its enormous… bore, stroke and thrust?

  • avatar

    I gave up trying to keep track of all the Merc models, much less the AMG variants. I really think BMW has a much better strategy with their M cars. They are a small group of very special cars with distinct personalities. BMW does screw it up somewhat by offering “M” packages on lesser cars. sigh, anything to make $$.

  • avatar
    Jay Shoemaker

    AMG has priced its cars as if they are special and exclusive but then they flood the market with lots of cars, at least here in California, and the oversupply depresses their resale value. I used to feel special at trade in time on my AMG cars and now I just feel shocked at how much of their value has been lost. Sajeev is right, this is the consumer’s problem but how many repeat customers will there be for an AMG 65 car that has lost nearly half its value in one year?

    The formula for exclusivity is a combination of high price and scarce supply.

  • avatar


    If you can afford a 100k car, do you care about resale value? I don’t know, I couldn’t buy a car like this.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Lesley proves a theory of mine — Chicks dig discplaement.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Ain’t no replacement Jonny. :))

  • avatar
    Anar Seyf

    I have to admit I was rather disappointed with this article. After reading it, I was left with this piece of information: CLK 63 is mighty fast, and expensive. Which I kind of suspected anyway, from a car with a 6.3 liter AMG engine… Too many numbers, not enough emotion.

  • avatar
    Anar Seyf

    For an example, see the latest article by Jezze:,,12529-2359257,00.html

    P.S. Clarkson is God.

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