Speed freaks and German car aficionados are well aware of the significance of the letters AMG when they’re attached to a Mercedes-Benz. Now for the uninitiated, these seemingly un- assuming little letters stand for nothing less than electrifying performance. So when the AMG tag showed up recently on one of our favorite coupes, the CLK, we knew we were in for a serious jolt! But, unlike a bolt of lightening that can randomly strike anywhere, anytime, the new 2001 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG produces a more controlled burst of energy, that needs nothing more than a twist of the key to ignite it, and pressure on the accelerator to turn it loose. And with a steady hand on the wheel and a heavy foot on the throttle, the CLK55 AMG carried us to 60 in a scant 5.2 seconds, and on through the quarter mile trap in 13.4 seconds at 107 mph. Sparking this AMG supercar is a tightly coiled 5.4 liter, SOHC, 24-valve, V-8 that utilizes an exclusive AMG-designed and pressure-cast aluminum block. AMG also tweaks the stock Mercedes dual-resonance magnesium intake manifold to increase airflow. The results of these and other modifications is an impressive 342 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. And only upon closer inspection, which usually comes a little too late for those wannabe red light racers, can you see hints that the CLK55 is more than it appears to be. Subtle touches include a small air dam in the front, body-colored skirts that run along the sides, 17 inch AMG Monoblock wheels wrapped in Z-rated rubber, and the most telling of them all, the wonderful AMG acronym on the trunk lid. But in addition to the torpedo-like thrust, the driver will also notice a ride that is a good deal stiffer than the CLK55’s bone stock counterparts. Along with the ultra-low profile tires, the double wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension has been substantially beefed up with stiffer bushings, larger-ventilated shocks, higher spring rates, and thicker stabilizer bars. But, when coupled with the engine’s explosive power, these suspension mods make the 3,444 pound CLK55 an ideal track tamer. Especially for those whose preferred modus operandi is point and stomp. Through our low speed slalom the CLK55 remains flat and stable. Side to side transitions are well balanced. Find the proper rhythm with steering and throttle inputs, and the CLK feels like the perfect partner for dancing the tango. Our only complaints are the overly heavy resistance of the recirculating ball steering unit. And a little more steering feedback would be nice. But there was no dissatisfaction with the smooth 5-speed, driver adaptive automatic transmission. The Touch Shift manual mode lets you lock it into the gear of your choice, another plus when extreme performance is the top priority. When hauling it in from speed is the priority, the large, meaty 4 wheel vented discs governed by ABS and Brake Assist are up to the task. We stopped from 60 in 117 feet with very little nose dive and first rate stability. Our drivers thought the system could be a little more polished, however, as there is an abundance of ABS noise and pedal pulse. There’s no lack of polish however on the inside, with plenty of top quality leather and wood trim throughout the cabin. The AMG-specific sport buckets get 10-way power adjustments with power lumbar supports. They face an adjustable steering wheel and an AMG-styled gauge cluster that, while not as comprehensive as we would like, does include a driver information center to keep you up to date on what’s going on under the hood. A dual zone climate control system and an 8-speaker Bose Premium sound system are standard. A trunk-mounted CD changer is optional. An Easy Access feature glides the bucket seats to the front when the seat backs are tilted forward to allow easier access to the rear. Where, although still coupe tight, you’ll find way more room than 2+2 pretenders. The rear seat backs also fold, expanding the trunk’s 11 cubic feet of capacity. Mercedes and AMG will build just a limited number of CLK55s so coming up with the $68,045 to pay for it is only half the battle. Our “As Tested” price with options came to $69,840. Like the folks in California are learning, anything “electrifying” doesn’t come cheap. And the 2001 Mercedes-Benz CLK55 AMG fits both the “electrifying” and “not cheap” categories. As for those three little letters, AMG? Well we’re told the proper German pronunciation is “AH-EM-GAY.” But around here we think a good American translation is, “AH-EM-GONE!”


  • Engine: 5.4 Liter, Sohc, 24-valve, V-8
  • Horsepower: 342
  • Torque: 376 Lb Feet
  • 0-60 MPH: 5.2 Seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.4 Seconds @ 107 MPH
  • 60-0 MPH: 117 Feet