Mercedes-Benz Unveils New CLE Coupe, Convertible

The replacement for the C- and E-Class Coupe and Convertible is set to see U.S. sales next year as a rival to the BMW 4-Series.

Greg Kable

July 10, 2023

4 Min Read
MB GLE convertible front 1.4
The replacement for the C- and E-Class Coupe and Convertible is set to see U.S. sales next year as a rival to the BMW 4-Series.Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz unveils the CLE, a new 2-door model that will replace the C- and E-Class Coupe and Convertible.

Arriving in early 2024 in North American dealerships, it forms part of Mercedes-Benz’s efforts to consolidate its traditional internal-combustion-engine lineup, as the German automaker transitions to all-electric models.

The CLE initially will be sold in coupe form, with a fabric-roof convertible becoming available during the second half of next year.

The Audi A5 and BMW 4-Series rival is based on Mercedes-Benz’s MRA platform. It shares a combination of components, including its mild-hybrid powertrains, electric architecture and many interior appointments with both the fifth-generation C-Class and more recently unveiled sixth-generation E-Class, becoming one of Mercedes-Benz’s last dedicated ICE models in the process.

The exterior styling builds on that of the existing E-Class coupe with a classically sporting silhouette, a prominent grille, a long probing hood, a curved roof, flowing C-pillars, a heavily angled rear window and sloping trunklid within a tapered rear end.

Power domes in the hood and prominent rear haunches over the rear wheels suggest the range-topping SL. But, dispensing with Mercedes-Benz’s a long tradition of pillarless coupes, the CLE Coupe receives B-pillars in a move Christof Kühner, head of overall vehicle testing for the new model, says is aimed at providing added levels of structural rigidity compared to its dual successors.

The CLE Convertible shares the same front-end styling as the CLE Coupe but receives a redesigned windshield with added bracing for added rollover protection, as well as a wind deflector within the header rail to reduce buffeting in the cabin at speed.

The automatically operated multilayer fabric roof is planned to be offered in a series of different colors (pictured, below). It receives a heated glass rear window and stows underneath a plastic composite tonneau cover featuring a third LED brake light.

MB GLE convertible rear.jpg

MB GLE convertible rear

At the rear, the CLE Convertible receives its own unique trunk design with a black plastic panel set between each of the taillamps.

At 191 ins. (4,851 mm) in length, the CLE is longer than both the C- and E-Class coupes by a respective 6.5 ins. (165 mm) and 0.6 ins. (15 mm). Width and height are put at 73.2 ins. (1,859 mm) and 56.2 ins. (1,427 mm).

By comparison, the BMW 4-series coupe runs to 187.9 ins. (4,773 mm) long, 72.9 in. (1,852) wide and 54.6 ins. (1,387) tall.

Inside (pictured, below), the new Mercedes-Benz model adopts a 2+2 layout with newly developed front seats with integrated headrests, heating and four-way lumbar support as standard. The seatbelts are delivered to front seat occupants by motorized belt givers.

MB GLE convertible interior.jpg

MB GLE convertible interior

The dashboard design together with the 12.3-in. (31-cm) instrument and 11.9.-in (30-cm) portrait-style infotainment displays as well as the center console and ventilation units are all heavily based on those found in the latest C-Class.

The rear receives a low-set bench with two individual seats on either side. Entry is via what Mercedes-Benz describes as an easy-entry system triggered by a pull of a leather strap within the sides of the front seats. The rear windows are fixed and cannot be opened.

There is more room all around than in the earlier C-Class coupe, particularly in the rear where leg- and knee room is up by 2.2 ins. (56 cm) and 2.8 ins. (71 cm), respectively. Yet, despite being longer overall, the CLE can’t match the overall interior accommodation of the earlier E-Class coupe. Trunk space for the CLE Coupe is put at 14.8 cu.-ft. (419 L).

Mercedes-Benz says the CLE is the second model to receive its third-generation MBUX system after the latest E-Class. It supports the latest version of the automaker's “Hey Mercedes” speech recognition system as well as 5G data transmission and a new Android layer allowing the installation of apps and streaming services for music and internet content.

The North American CLE lineup consists of two gasoline engine-powered models, both featuring Mercedes-Benz’s 9-speed automatic gearbox and 4Matic all-wheel drive system as standard.

MB GLE coupe front 1.4.jpg

MB GLE coupe front 1.4

Included is the CLE300 4Matic, whose turbocharged 2.0L gasoline 4-cyl. delivers 255 hp and 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque, and the CLE450 4Matic powered by a turbocharged 3.0L gasoline 6-cyl. with 375 hp and 369 lb.-ft. (500 Nm).

Both engines receive 48V mild-hybrid properties, with a gearbox-mounted electric motor providing an additional 23 hp and 148 lb.-ft. (200 Nm) for short periods under acceleration.

Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance-car division plans at least two higher-powered versions of the CLE, details of which are yet to be made official.

Underneath, the CLE receives a steel suspension featuring a double wishbone design at the front and multi-links at the rear. Buyers can choose between a standard Comfort set-up and an optional Sport set-up – the latter featuring a more direct steering ratio and stiffer springs and dampers for added body control.

A so-called Dynamic Body Control option offers adjustable damping control together with an even more direct steering ratio and a rear-wheel steer system providing up to 2.5 degrees of steering angle to the rear wheels.

The new coupe and its upcoming cabriolet sibling will be built at Mercedes-Benz’s Bremen plant in northern Germany.

MB GLE coupe, convertible.jpg

MB GLE coupe, convertible


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