Convertible owners are used to mussed-up hair. But the Mercedes CLK63 AMG takes follicular assault to a new level thanks to one of the most powerful, naturally aspirated V-8 engines in a production automobile.
As a horsepower war rages among luxury carmakers, the mad scientists of AMG—Mercedes’s exclusive high-performance division—have responded to BMW’s provocations with a monster of their own: A hand-built 6.3-liter masterpiece of silicon-aluminum alloy with 475 horsepower and a shocking 465 pound-feet of torque. That’s over a hundred horsepower more than the outgoing CLK55 model, all the more impressive in that it’s now accomplished sans supercharger. (Mercedes is rolling the engine out in several limited-production AMG models, including the CLS63 sedan, which generates 507 horsepower.)
With that secret weapon under its deceptively demure hood, this cabriolet explodes to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds and surges with ridiculous ease to its electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. The engine’s sophisticated dance partner is a seven-speed automatic transmission, its manual mode operated via aluminum paddles on the steering wheel. Along the way, the AMG sport exhaust emits a surprisingly robust note, best enjoyed with the top down. Massive brakes, including front discs with six-piston calipers, keep the autobahn speeds in check. On the safety front, roll bars pop automatically from the rear deck if the Benz senses an impending rollover. And while so many luxury convertibles are strictly for two, the CLK63 retains its family-friendly four-seat layout with enough space for cargo or clubs. Performance aside, that may be the best talking point for getting one onto your driveway: See, honey, a practical car.
MERCEDES CLK63 AMG
Base Price: $87,975
Engine: 6.3-liter V-8
Torque: 465 pound-feet
Weight: 3,960 pounds
Zero to 60 MPH: 4.5 seconds