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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Two-doors here to stay as Mercedes-Benz debuts new CLE

Replacement for the coupe and cabriolet versions of the C-and-E-Class as modernised elements in common with both.

Announced back in 2020 as replacing the coupe and cabriolet variants of the C-Class and E-Class, Mercedes-Benz has officially debuted the CLE that will enter production within the coming months.

Still standing

Sporadically spied undergoing testing since its confirmation, but not teased on any prior occasion, the CLE also introduces a new denominator to the three-pointed star at the expense of not only the models mentioned, but indirectly also the much bigger CLS that will bow-out next month.

ALSO READ: Confirmed: Mercedes-Benz CLE spied ahead of 2023 reveal

It’s long awaited debut being in stark contrast to Benz’s announcement in February that it will reduce its current line-up from 33 to 14 models, the CLE is said to be more than a two-door C-Class in spite of its styling being similar.

Mercedes-Benz showcases all-new CLE
Rear facia has been reworked slightly from the outgoing C-Class Coupe. Image: Mercedes-Benz.

While based on the same MRA2 platform, the newcomer has been designed in the mould of the updated E-Class as evident not only by its moniker, but also by the inclusion of a six-cylinder engine unlikely to be offered in any future variants of the C-Class.

CLE vs predecessors

Stretching 4 850 mm long, standing 1 428 mm tall and measuring 1 860 mm while riding on a 2 865 mm wheelbase, the CLE trounces the C-Class Coupe by 164 mm and the E-Class Coupe by 15 mm overall, while being 50 mm wider than the former and identical to the latter.

All-new Mercedes-Benz CLE officially revealed
AMG Line will, for now, top the CLE range. Image: Mercedes-Benz.

On the wheelbase front, the CLE loses out by eight millimetres over the outgoing E-Class, but gains 25 mm on the W205 C-Class Coupe.

As for height, a gain of 23 mm has been achieved over a C-Class with that of the E-Class being two millimetres up.

All-new Mercedes-Benz CLE officially revealed
Boot space has gone up 60-litres over that of the C-Class Coupe. Image: Mercedes-Benz.

In addition, the dimensional advancements translate to 10 mm more headroom and 72 mm more knee room than in the C-Class, with boot space improving by 60-litres to 420-litres.

Styling more C than E

Sitting 15 mm closer to ground than the current C-Class, the CLE sports the same frontal design, complete with the standard LED or optional Digital LED headlights, all the way to the B-pillar, where it receives a sloping roofline in typical coupe fashion.

Resplendent with pillarless doors and riding on 18-inch alloy wheels with up to 20-inches being available when opting for the AMG Line package, the rear facia mirrors that of the outgoing C-Class, albeit with a change in light cluster design as well as a central full-width LED bar.

All-new Mercedes-Benz CLE officially revealed
AMG Line means the availability of up to 20-inch alloy wheels. Image: Mercedes-Benz.

Somewhat surprisingly, no details were divulged about the cabriolet despite it being shown alongside the coupe.

As evident by the images though, the drop-top will continue to offer a canvas rather than a hard-top roof when it goes on sale next year.

Sporting wider wheel arches than the current C-Class, the CLE will be offered in Avantgarde or the mentioned AMG Line trim levels, the latter inclusive of the mentioned wheels, sportier bumpers and wider door sills.

C inside

Mercedes-Benz showcases all-new CLE
Interior has more in-common with the C-Class than the E-Class. Image: Mercedes-Benz.

Inside, the interior is almost identical to C-Class in that it sports the freestanding 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, plus the centre console-mounted 11.9-inch portrait-style MBUX infotainment system.

Unique though are the front seats that feature not only heating and ventilation as well as electric adjustability but also a pair of speakers integrated into each as part of the optional flagship 17-speaker 710-watt Burmester 3D surround sound system.

Mercedes-Benz showcases all-new CLE
Seats are unique to the CLE and come with a pair of speakers integrated into the front headrests. Image: Mercedes-Benz.

Also new is a Nappa leather strap which unlocks the front seats to provide access to the rear.

As before, the CLE offers an extensive array of material and veneer options depending on whether the Avantgarde or AMG Line is selected.


Likely as a way of supporting the inclusion of the mentioned six-cylinder engine, Benz has also tweaked the CLE’s chassis by way of not only the lowered suspension but by stiffening up the optional sport suspension, retuning the Dynamic Body Control system and fitting the rear-axle steering system as an option.

All-new Mercedes-Benz CLE officially revealed
AMG Line means different materials and sportier seats. Image: Mercedes-Benz.

On the safety side, both standard and optional, the CLE’s resumé includes Active Distance Assist Distronic, Attention Assist, Active Brake and Lane Change Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Active Steering Assist, and Intersection Assist, as well as:

  • Traffic Sign Recognition;
  • Pre-Safe;
  • Active Park Assist;
  • 360-degree surround-view camera;
  • Active Lane Keep Assist

Electrified four and six

Up front, the initial powerunit line-up spans three engines in various states of tune, all combined with the 48-volt EQ Boost mild-hybrid system that raises outputs by 17kW/200Nm for short burst.

The standard transmission is the 9G Tronic automatic with the sole diesel model, the CLE 220d, being the only derivative not to have the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system as either an option or standard.

Starting the range off is the CLE 200, whose 2.0-litre turbo-petrol develops 150kW/320Nm without the EQ Boost system.

Drop-top Mercedes-Benz CLE revealed
Cabriolet has been confirmed, but only from 2024. Image: Mercedes-Benz.

The claimed top speed is 240 km/h or 236 km/h in 4Matic form, with respective 0-100 km/h times of 7.4 and 7.5 seconds.

Fitted with the all-paw gripping system as the standard, the CLE 300 makes use of the same 2.0-litre engine, but with outputs of 190kW/400Nm. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h with the 0-10 km/h dash taking 6.2 seconds.

As for the oil-burner mentioned, the 2.0-litre OM 654 M mill outputs 145kW/440Nm, resulting in a top speed of 238 km/h and 0-100 km/h dispatched in 7.5 seconds.

Drop-top Mercedes-Benz CLE revealed
Canvas instead of a hard-top will feature on the CLE. Image: Mercedes-Benz.

Sitting at the range’s summit until the arrival of an AMG model, the CLE 450 gets Benz’s 3.0-litre turbocharged M 256 M straight-six delivering 280kW/500Nm.

With the 4Matic system in place as standard, the flagship CLE will accelerate from 0-100 km/h in a claimed 4.4 seconds, before topping out at 250 km/h.

Debuting next year, the CLE will also have a plug-in hybrid version as well as the mentioned AMG.

Still to be confirmed

On-sale in Europe from November with pricing set to vary from market to market, the CLE, for now, remains a no-no for South Africa, though if approved, expect sales to commence early in 2024.

NOW READ: Mercedes-Benz set to replace C-and-E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet with CLE in 2023

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