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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Mercedes-Benz softens-up CLE’s roof with new CLE Cabriolet

Replacing the C and E-Class Cabriolet models, the CLE Cabriolet has, for now, not been given the go-ahead for South Africa.

Introduced last year as the combined replacement for the coupe versions of the C-Class and E-Class, Mercedes-Benz has now replaced the cabriolet derivatives of the both models with the new drop-top version of the CLE.

Hard goes soft

The third CLE model after the coupe and the performance AMG CLE 53, the CLE Cabriolet differs comparatively little from its siblings, bar the obvious eschewing of the roof for a fabric item that opens and closes in 20 seconds at up to 60 km/h.

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

A multi-layer roof with integrated acoustics to avoid road and wind noise seeping into cabin when raised, the soft-top offers a choice of three colours; black, grey or red, and according to Mercedes-Benz, has had minimal impact on storage space as a result of an automatic roller divider that separates it from the boot.

Mercedes-Benz removes covers and roof from CLE
Dimensionally, Mercedes-Benz has stretched the cabriolet’s wheelbase by 25 mm. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Centre to this is the stretching of the MRA2 platform by 25 mm for a wheelbase of 2 865 mm. Unchanged though is the 4 850 mm overall length and 1 860 mm width, while height drops from 1 428 mm to 1 424 mm.

Accordingly, boot space in the CLE Cabriolet ranges from 295-litres with the roof up, to 385-litres in the lowered position.


Billed as a four-seater, Mercedes-Benz also claims a 72 mm improvement in kneeroom and 19 mm in shoulder and elbow room compared to the outgoing C-Class Cabriolet.

Mercedes-Benz debuts new CLE Cabriolet
Interior has been carried over without change from the coupe. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Inside, the cabriolet’s cabin has been altered little from the coupe, meaning it retains the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, the centre console-mounted 11.9-inch MBUX infotainment system and the optional 17-speaker 710-watt Burmester 3D surround sound system.

Unique to the cabriolet though are the Airscarf neck warmers, an automatically deploying wind deflector behind the seats and a special coasting for the optional leather upholstery supposed to reflect the sun’s rays to reduce the final temperature by 12-degrees Celsius compared to regular leather.

Mercedes-Benz debuts new CLE Cabriolet
CLE Cabriolet has been billed as a four-seater. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Buyers adverse to the leather chairs do, however, have two alternatives; Artico man-made leather or Nappa leather in black.

Hybrid open top for all

Its suspension and optional Dynamic Body Control system recalibrated to suit the CLE Cabriolet’s characteristics, up front, Benz has opted for four engine options, all with 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance adding 17kW/200Nm for short spells, and mated to the 9G Tronic automatic gearbox.

Commencing the range, the CLE 200’s 2.0-litre turbo-petrol develops 150kW/320Nm without the hybrid system, which goes to the rear or optionally to all four wheels via the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.

Mercedes-Benz debuts new CLE Cabriolet
Boot space ranges from 295-litres with the roof down to 385-litres with the soft-top up. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Top speed is pegged at 236 km/h and 232 km/h respectively with the rear-wheel-drive getting from 0-100 km/h in 7.9 seconds and the 4Matic in eight seconds.

With the 4Matic system standard, the step-up CLE 300 develops 190kW/400Nm from the same 2.0-litre engine, resulting in a top speed of 250 km/h and 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds.

At the petrol line-up’s summit, the CLE 450’s 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six punches out 280kW/500Nm, which goes to all four wheels and translates to a top speed of 250 km/h and 0-100 km/h in 4.7 seconds.

Mercedes-Benz removes covers and roof from CLE
Fabric roof has three colour options and lowers or raises in 20 seconds. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Completing the range, the only diesel model, the CLE 220d, offers-up 145kW/440Nm from its OM 654 M 2.0-litre engine, again without the inclusion of the mild-hybrid system, and directed to the rear wheels only.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the CLE 220d Cabriolet will get from 0-100 km/h in 7.9 seconds and a hit a top speed of 234 km/h.

Not yet South Africa ready

On-sale in Europe from April with pricing in Germany ranging from €68 782 (R1 405 340) to €88 357 (R1 805 292), the CLE Cabriolet, for now, remains unconfirmed as the case is with the CLE coupe and also the AMG CLE 53.

Should eventual approval be given, expect the CLE to only arrive much later this year.

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

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