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IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jun 15, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

IN THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS By Kurt Fuhrmann

Is there any good news in today's world? Well let's see, the civil war in Iraq enters its fourth year, gas prices are through the roof (and seemingly no end to the billions in profits for the oil companies), and due to the outrages oil prices, some of our grocery prices increased. As if this isn't enough bad news, our economy - more specifically - our dollar, is worth less, our national debt has increased over the years, and our home values have hit a nice low. If you're with me, we all can enjoy some happiness in our lives to take away some of these unfortunate times and place them in the back of our minds. Sometimes, in our pursuit of happiness, we find some enjoyment to help us cope with these stressful times. For the moment, I have found something that gives me a smile from ear to ear: The 2008 Mercedes Benz 350 CLK Cabriolet. It is well enough to be given the opportunity to drive a Mercedes, but a convertible in sunny Southern California is sheer bliss. Furthermore, this CLK boasts my favorite colors: silver with a black top and a dark interior! Please join me in my journey as I discover this beautiful Mercedes. Perhaps my experience will give you a smile of happiness too.

My first destination is to see a movie with a friend in Hollywood near the infamous Sunset Strip. Since the movie was early, the top has to come down. With a just a touch, the top is in motion to hide away. Instead of watching the top and waiting for the windows to roll up, Mercedes designed an information guide, located on the instrument panel, showing the status of the top's performance. As soon as the top is down and secure, we are off on our first venture of the evening: The Sunset Strip. Sunset Boulevard on a Friday night is packed, and there are nightclubs and restaurants galore. Whatever your tastes desire, there is sure to be an adventure to satisfy you. As we traveled along, we are getting a lot onlookers, and an occasional thumbs-up of approval. Just to bump up our enjoyment, we set several CDs in the 6-disc changer and cranked up the Harman/Kardon sound system (And yes, these ambiance goodies are part of a premium package). Our mood is lifted even more and the patrons on Sunset Boulevard seem to enjoy the entertainment as well. Near UCLA, Sunset is no longer a slow cruise; it becomes a rolling and winding hillside track. This section of Sunset is a perfect place to test the CLK's sport suspension (part of the Sport Appearance package). This CLK350 handles brilliantly, being impervious to side-to-side roll and sway. It sticks to the road like a well-balanced sport sedan, . The only trouble I have is trying to tell this CLK that it's a convertible.

The next venture: Saturday appears rather cool around Newport Beach, so the next destination will be Palm Springs where the Sun always shines and with temperatures in the mid 80s, I can't wait. The Mercedes is smooth, relatively quiet with the top down, and there is plenty of passing power. The CLK350 has a 3.5-liter 24-valve aluminum V6 producing 268 horsepower. This engine bullets from 0 to 60 in just 6.7 seconds, providing a rush of adrenalin entering the freeway in an awe- and happiness-inspiring way. The route to Palm Springs from Newport Beach area is a compilation of all sorts of roadways, providing my spouse and I with an exhilarating and seemingly short drive to reach the 111 highway into Palm Springs. The acceleration from the first stoplight hits me like ton of bricks; I had not yet experienced the touch shift mode on this 7-speed automatic. Let's just say that once I tried this mode of shifting, I didn't switch out for quite some time. I thought the CLK350 was fast in the pure automatic mode, boy was I wrong. The touch shift is a blast-and-a-half. Wow, I can't stop smiling: The CLK performs amazingly in this mode - the shift is simple and smooth. And oh yeah, the CLK is fast! Our destination is the Marriott Palm Desert Resort. We take a ticket at the gate to enter Self Park. A quick change of clothes and it's off to the pool. We stay rather late enjoying every minute until we realize that it's around $18 parking to get out. We race to the car and proceed to the booth. The attendant gave us a once over, stated that she hoped we enjoyed our stay at the Marriott and parking was free. She then stated that we had a beautiful car and told us to enjoy the evening. I then understood that because of the CLK Cabriolet, she thought we stayed overnight and were departing that evening. Perhaps if I had a rust bucket, I would have been paying the $18 to get out. I guess I owe some thanks to Mercedes Benz. Thank you, Mercedes, for saving me $18.

Even though Mercedes Benz produced a wonderful car in the CLK350 Cabriolet, one point must be addressed. A problem occurs with the front seat headrests. When moving a seat forward, the headrests close down right over your hand, and there is no release for this painful act. I eventually had to climb in the back and push the seat forward for the headrest to release my hand. This also caught two others in a similar situation. And ouch, that smarts! On my final day with this exceptional Mercedes before I return her, I am neither sad nor disappointed. In my pursuit of happiness, my time with this Mercedes CLK350 will keep me smiling for quite some time into the near future.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT A great antidote for the daily blues, with no negative side effects. For more information about Mercedes products, go to www.mbusa.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2008 Mercedes Benz CLK350 Cabriolet Price: Base $54,200.00 As tested $62,870.00. Some additional features this Mercedes 350 CLK 4 passenger Cabriolet are:

  • ipod integrated kit

  • DVD Command Navigation

  • PO3 Premium Package: heated and ventilated front seats, Driver Multicontour seat, Bi-Xenon active headlamp system, cornering fog lamps, headlamp washing system, heated windshield washer, Ham Kardon sound system Sirius satellite radio, 6 disc cd changer, and cell phone pre-wiring

  • P90 Sport Appearance package: Cross-drilled brake rotors, 17" 6 twin spoke wheels, sport suspension, and rubber studded stainless steel pedals

EPA mileage estimates - City/Highway 17/25 Engine Type: 3.5 Liter 24-valve V-6 Horsepower 268 @ 6,000 rpm Torque 258 lbs-ft @ 2400-5000 rpm Drive Configuration Front engine/Rear wheel drive Transmission type 7 speed automatic with Electronically Controlled shifting Suspension Front Independent 3-link, Antidive geometry and stabilizer bar Rear Independent 5-arm multi-link Antisquat geometry and stabilizer bar Steering type: Rack-and-pinion with vehicle-speed-sensitive power assist and integrated hydraulic damper. Wheel and tires 17-inch 5-split spoke Alloy wheels Front: 225/45R ZR17all season tires Rear: 245/40R ZR17 all season tires Tire Pressure Loss Warning System. Brakes Four-wheel power assisted disc brakes Front 11.8-inch ventilated w/floating 1-piston calipers Rear 11.4-inch solid disc w/2 piston calipers 4-wheel disc brakes w/ antilock and brake assist Wheelbase 106.9 in Overall length 183.2 in Overall height 54.4 in Overall width 68.5 in Curb weight 3,845 lb

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