AMG. Those three little letters are guaranteed to get any Mercedes-Benz fan’s heart racing. That’s because the tuning wizards of Mercedes’ performance division build some of the most exciting road cars in the world, cars like the CLK55 coupe and the S55 sedan. True drivers’ cars that we never miss an opportunity to try.
And try them we did, as we recently tested both the 2004 Mercedes Benz CLK55 AMG and the 2003 S55 AMG. And what we found behind the wheel probably won’t surprise you.
The CLK55 coupe starts with the best of current Mercedes styling. Clean lines rake over the chrome ribbed black grille, while AMG design features sculpted front air dam with mesh intakes, side skirts and rear apron. The rear sports a smooth spoiler, integrated red fog lamp, chrome exhaust tips, and of course AMG badging.
Beneath its hood is the AMG-built single-cam, normally aspirated V8. Proven performance comes with its 362 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. On the track, the CLK jumps from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds, taking the 1/4 mile in 13.7 seconds at 104 mph. That’s the ‘‘go’’ power we expect from this Benz. But for all its might, it can stop quickly, too. Its dual-circuit power-assisted 4-wheel disc brakes pull the 3,635 pound Benz from 60 to 0 in only 123 feet.
On the road, the 5-speed automatic transmission holds its own. Touch-shift manual capabilities and AMG Speedshift allow faster gear changes for maximum acceleration, yet also prevent unwanted downshifts during cornering. This is a real sport coupe without compromise.
Inside, the four-seater greets you with modest chrome accents, rich leather upholstery on the multi-way front sport buckets, front, side, and curtain air bags, TeleAid, plus Mercedes cabin features too numerous to list. So, what could be better than the CLK55 AMG Coupe? Well, for a lucky few, it’s the hearty S55 AMG sedan. The top of the mark when it comes to AMG performance in a four-door.
Its ample body stretches 203 inches and weighs in at 4,300 pounds. Sporty cues are discrete, adding even more presence to its tall roof line and long, sloping hood. The rear fascia boasts four polished stainless steel exhaust pipes below the signature AMG badging.
Pretty? Sure. But this is a case of love at first drive. And the S55’s 5.4 liter, supercharged, single overhead cam V8 throws out an awesome 493 horsepower and 516 pound feet of torque. The S55 made serious tracks taking the 0 to 60 in 5.1 seconds and running the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds at 107 mph. The blower-8 has no lag, instantly jumping off the line. And, fortunately, braking is equally confident. Relying on its cross-drilled ventilated 4-wheel disc, the S55 AMG stops in 124 feet from 60 to 0. Its muscular V-8 is linked to an electronic 5-speed automatic and also features Touch shift and AMG SpeedShift.
Steering is firm for a big luxury sedan, as stability is solid and roll virtually non-existent, thanks to Electronic Stability Control and Active Body Control suspension. Overall, the S55 is the most impressive big sedan we’ve ever tested.
The cabin exudes the maximum of European creature comforts, but the burl walnut accents and leather seats also make the cabin purely posh.
And sure, these cruisers are light on their feet, but they do make a dent in the tank. EPA estimates for the S55 AMG are 14 City and 22 Highway, with our average return of just 14. The CLK55 AMG does better, 15 city and 22 highway, with our average of 17 miles per gallon.
Now to the larger out of pocket item. The CLK55 AMG base price is $71,920 with gas guzzler tax included. A CD changer, Motorola phone and rear sunshade brought our tester to $74,355. The starting price for the S55 AMG is $108,920. Add rear-side window blinds, electronic trunk closer and more, and you’ll pay $116,435.
Ah, the price people pay to play! And play is what you’ll do when you get your shot to cruise in the big, capable, desirable, breathless cars Mercedes-Benz tags as AMG.
Engine: 5.4-Liter Single Overhead Cam V-8
Torque: 376 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 5.2 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.7 Seconds @ 104 MPH
EPA Mileage: 15 MPG City 22 MPG Highway