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Discussion Starter #1
Took back a 33K mile 2003 CLK 320 convertible after just 3 days of ownership. There were a long list of issues, some of which were failures of the dealership, or damage done to the previous owner, and not Mercedes’ fault, which caused me to return it. I will only list my opinion of the car itself (excluding dealership / damage issues) after a 3-day "test drive":

Pros: One of the most stunning body styles on the road – absolutely gorgeous. Tight and fast, a blast to drive.

Cons: Annoying turbulence in cockpit. Ludicrous BabySmart system. Electrical problems (expected). High service costs (expected). Uncomfortable seats.

My key gripe about the car is turbulence in the cockpit. I have had many convertibles, and they all score differently in this regard. I could drive my 1992 Camaro 70 mph on the freeway wearing a ball cap and it wouldn’t blow my hat off. Buffeting in the CLK starts at about 35-40 mph. Mercedes either never tweaked this car top-down in a wind tunnel, or just didn’t want to make the changes necessary to correct this problem. For me, this is a critical area for a convertible. Why have a drop-top that is annoying to drive with the top down? The wind screen didn't help much, added to the wind noise, and the verticle screen kept slipping off.

My other big issue was BabySmart. I didn’t want to spend $100s of dollars for a car seat with a transponder in it, when practically every other carmaker out there has something better. Also ... the transponder and sensor in the seat were just two more things that could break down.

Electrical and other: Stereo was on the fritz with multiple issues. Alarm was doing weird things. Window jiggled when being lowered.

Again, there were dealer issues (hadn’t done some things they said they would) and other minor damage I discovered subsequent to purchase that cumulatively pushed me to return the vehicle. Having said that, I am no longer considering a CLK, primarily because of the wind turbulence. I could probably live with the other issues in light of the performance of the vehicle, but why drive a convertible that isn't fun when the top is down?
 

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2002 430clk;2005 Yamaha YZF R1;08 Range Rover Sport
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ok...so..you are heading to the Toyota or Honda dealer...when you pull up next to me at the light in your 2003 toyota camry or 03 honda, dont be upset , plus why in the hell would you buy a clk and need a car seat, what happened to the minivan, the Toyota Sienna doesnt have problems, the dodge caravan has a built in car seat, have you tried another CLK? I would think this dealer was not a MB dealer
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I want a convertible not for utilitarian reasons, but to enjoy driving around. And I want to go for drives with my 6-year old son. And I don't want to have to stick him in the back seat at those times.

I am test driving the A4 Monday. If that doesn't work, the 3-series seem overpriced, but I guess it is either that or a Mustang GT. Mustangs don't ooze quality, but I can get a rocket, loaded to the hilt with options, for a very affordable price. And even it automatically detects if the passenger seat is occupied by someone of sufficent weight (I think 70 lbs) or it deactivates the airbag. But I admit I love the ride and feel of German cars after driving the CLK. I hope the A4 meets my requirements. I would be concerned about reliability, but would have peace of mind of new car warranty.
 

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Hopes & Dreams
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Coupe > Convertible

'nuff said
 

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2002 CLK430
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I own a coupe, but I find it odd that you experienced buffeting at such low speeds. The wind deflector was in place, correct?

Best wishes with your other two choices. Assuming you're comparing similar vehicles, buffeting will be the least of the problems with a five year old used Mustang GT convertible. Personally, I'd take a used CLK over a brand new Mustang GT. I've owned two of those fox chassis based cars in their coupe configuration. Rather than say anything bad, I'll just say if that's your choice, our personal inclinations differ. The BMW 3 series would be my second (or third) choice after the W208, but that is a very distant second. Have you driven a Boxster S? Or are 4 seats a requirement?

As an aside, my car doesn't have any electrical issues. I wouldn't expect them on another 2001-2003 unless the PO introduced them. If the car is bone stock, I would suggest checking to see if the original battery is still in place. Low voltage can cause oddities and the battery does have a limited lifespan. At five years, it's due for replacement. Although, if the car has been returned, the battery will be the next buyer's problem. Was a PPI performed? If so, did a Mercedes-Benz dealer do it? They should have caught any electrical maladies.

High service cost is a relative term. Mercedes-Benz dealers charge more than Chevrolet dealers, however, Chevrolets require repairs on a much more frequent basis. You may find that Audi dealers are on par with Mercedes-Benz dealers.
 

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I have both a 208 coupe and convertible nad I can report this. Owning the 99 convertible since it was new, i have never had any issues with it. If the owner didnt take care of it these cars are not gonna hold up. Ifyou keep up with maintinence, they will run forever.

The coupe is SLIGHTLY more quiet inside, but I have NO wind problems in the clk, in fact its better than the 209 chassis and a c6 vette for wind buffeting. With the deflector in place theres no wind with the windows up, simply the best.
 

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Mercedes Benz E 250 CDI
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Mate I don't wanta be a wet blanket but I did 20 yrs as a Paramedic & saw more than enough dead kids to last 2 lifetimes, so irrespective what car you buy if you're concerned for your young bloke's safety you'll put him in the BACK seat
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So you never pulled any dead kids from the back seat?

What are the odds that I will be in a life-threatening collision. Out of that, if he has a booster and it is buckled in, what are the odds of a fatality in the front seat vs the back seat? Should kids never ride in 2-seater cars?

I guess this is where I begin to think that there is a trade off between enjoying life and living in fear. I believe in seat belts and taking reasonable precautions, but somewhere there is a line between what is politically correct and reality. If we get broadsided by a drunk driver, is my son really any safer in back than in front? OK ... I will grant that in some cases the front seat will be nominally safer, just like it would be safer to get rid of cars, stairs, airplanes etc. and live in padded rooms.
 

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2004 SL55 AMG, 2006 E500
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I'm not giving an opinion either way because I agree that there's risk in everything. However, I didn't expect the numbers to be quite this high...

Changes in Front Seat Occupancy


While a few studies have found little relationship between seating location and injury outcomes, most U.S. studies have found that children riding in a rear seat have a reduced risk of being killed. Of these studies, Partyka (1988) found that rear seat occupancy decreased a child’s risk of fatal injury by an average of 26%. NHTSA (1996) also reported a 26% lower fatality risk for children in the rear seat. More recently, Braver and her colleagues ( 1997) estimated that, among children (ages 0-12), riding in the rear seat was associated with a 35% lower risk of death in vehicles without passenger-side air bags and a 50% lower risk in vehicles with passenger-side air bags. Finally, Graham and colleagues (1998) reported that children riding in the rear seat are 20-40% safer, even in the absence of a passenger-side air bag. Clearly, there are many factors that would be expected to modify the effectiveness of moving children to a rear seating position. They include: presence of an air bag; type of collision; restraint use or non-use; etc. However, each of the above studies found the rear seat to be associated with lower risk for both restrained and unrestrained children.

http://www.nsc.org/public/Report.doc

I will say this... if a car had a 25% greater fatality rate in accidents then other cars, I'd likely consider another car.
 

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Mercedes Benz E 250 CDI
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Yeah I have had kids die that were in the back seat, but the odds are stacked considerably higher for those seated in the front. That's from my experience, if people care to overlook the stats that are out there, that's their choice, but I have to add seeing any dead child is one too many. As for the vehicle, yeah MB has a great product that one of its many attributes is safety.
 

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2002 (W208) CLK55 AMG Cabriolet
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I don't know what to tell you... I own the W208 CLK55 cab and the car is not only quiet, but there is literally NO turbulence - I have stuff in every compartment in this car, including the side doors, and even when driving at 100MPH with the top down and withOUT the wind breaker nothing flies out or even moves around.

I have conversations on my cellphone at 75MPH, no problem.

Maybe it's a difference between the 208 and 209, but that would be weird.
 

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We all form our own opinions bloke, wether it be that the MB product is better than a BMW, or that a coupe is better than a cab or if we choose to compromise our kids safety for the buzz of riding in the front.
A good point that you made is that there's risk associated in everything we do and that enjoying our lives is all about finding the balance that's right for all of us. You've obviously made your choice in that regard and good luck to you. The shame of it is your Son's not old enough or mature enough to form a balanced opinion on his own life, hopefully his absolute trust in you will prove right.
 
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