The most interesting styling change is the elimination of the centre ‘B’ pillar. Like the big CL500 coupe, the 2003 CLK is now ‘pillarless’ and has a cleaner, more streamlined appearance without sacrificing structural safety, according to Mercedes-Benz. I believe them.
With a slightly longer wheelbase, a wider body and a taller roof, the 2003 CLK is noticeably roomier inside. Mercedes-Benz claims a 7 mm increase in the distance between the front and rear seat and a 40 mm increase in rear seat knee room. Rear headroom has increased by 12 mm, and front shoulder and elbowroom have both improved by 9 mm.
Though it’s easily recognizable as a CLK coupe, the 2003 CLK500 is all-new inside and out. While the previous CLK had four separate oval-shaped headlamps (two large ones and two small ones), the new CLK features four oval headlamps which merge together, like those of the C-Class sedans. Astute observers will also notice the new air vents in the hood, a tri-star badge instead of a raised emblem, larger wraparound rear taillights, and a lower front air dam on the CLK500 and CLK 55 AMG (which is likely to come in contact with concrete curbs if the driver is not careful).
The 2003 CLK is roomy enough for four adults – there’s plenty of front and rear legroom and adequate rear headroom for two average-sized adults – although anyone over six feet tall will have a problem with rear headroom. It should also be noted that with the optional sunroof installed, headroom decreases by 35 mm (1.4 inches).