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MERCEDES BENZ CLK CABRIOLET
With the CLK320, Mercedes-Benz already had quite a winning entry in the luxury coupe field. But to make sure potential customers don’t lose interest, after just one year on the market, the company is adding an important new option: a folding top. The CLK Cabriolet will retract its soft top neatly beneath a hard boot, all with the push of a button. When raised, the top is lined and insulated. If you’re concerned about safety, pop-up roll bars snap into place instantly in the event the worst happens.
By getting the Cabriolet, the price of the CLK rises from around $41,000 to $47,200 plus destination and options. The rest of the CLK320’s goodness remains unchanged, including the potent V-6 engine, slick five-speed automatic transmission, sophisticated suspension and meaty 16-in. tires. To help keep things in control, you can add optional ESP (Electronic Stability Program), a feature that puts automotive meaning to the words “spin control.”
If opening up your luxury coupe to the wind isn’t enough of a thrill, you can get even more power. For $700 more than the Cabriolet, the CLK430 aims 275 V-8 horsepower at monster 17-in. tires. You can’t fold the top on this one, but you can shake a leg.
Previously, Acura’s 2.5TL and 3.2TL represented little more than an effort to be part of the growing entry-level luxury sedan market. But with a marginal base engine and high prices, the TL was overshadowed by more competent competitors. For 1999, a new TL is ready to compete at a much higher level. The five-cylinder engine is gone, leaving a more powerful 225-horsepower V6. This model comes fully equipped, with the only option being a $2,000 GPS navigation system. The car itself, at $27,950 plus destination charges, is more than $5,000 more affordable than the previous 3.2TL. Yet it’s larger, roomier and better equipped. From the automatic climate control and Bose audio system with CD player to the computerized semi-manual automatic transmission, the TL is now fully prepared to go head to head with such highly regarded cars as the Lexus ES300. With a double wishbone suspension and VTEC engine, the TL should prove to be among the spottier competitors in the field.
The new navigation system is also quite interesting. Not only will it help you find a particular address or the nearest French restaurant, it will even locate an area based on a phone number. Now