The Mercedes CLE replaces the Mercedes C-Class Coupe and E-Class Coupe, and Mercedes has chosen the path of design evolution rather than revolution. First impressions from our colleagues from auto motor und sport magazine who drove the diesel version CLE 220 d with 197 PS.
Luxury coupes have been a Mercedes tradition since the 220 in the W187 range from 1951. There was a time when Mercedes could afford to offer a coupe in every class: C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class, plus the CLA in the compact class.
However, the high cost of the new dedicated electric platforms has led Mercedes to restrict the range of traditional coupes. So from this autumn, the Mercedes CLE, codenamed C283, replaces both the C-Class Coupe and E-Class Coupe.
Colleagues at auto motor und sport magazine noted the new coupe’s svelte silhouette and sleek roof transition to the trunk lid. In the case of the CLE, the designers opted for simple elegance without design gimmicks. But on the other hand, auto motor und sport editor think it wouldn’t hurt to have more eye-catching charm. That’s why the Mercedes CLE doesn’t attract much attention in traffic, even though it’s a completely new model.
More airy interior
The interior is much more streamlined than the C-Class Coupe, as the CLE is 5 cm wider than the C-Class coupe, and this aspect is noticeable when you sit in the front.
In the back, however, space is tight, especially regarding the interior height. But the knee room is decent as the 2865 mm wheelbase is 25 mm longer. Although the Mercedes CLE theoretically sits between the C-Class Coupe and E-Class Coupe, it is 164 mm, 5 mm longer than the two coupes it replaces. For rear access, the front seat backs are unlocked by pulling a stylish loop. It’s still more pleasant to sit in one of the front seats, as it should be in a coupe.
Diesel is a good option with standard suspension
For the first test drive, Mercedes offers three engine versions. Surprisingly, colleagues at auto motor und sport magazine chose the CLE 220 d version for the test, powered by a diesel engine that, in Europe at least, is on its way out.
The two-litre diesel offers 197 PS and is mated to a 48V mild hybrid system with an integrated 17 kW (23 PS) starter generator. That’s more than enough power for relaxed driving. While a diesel may not seem like the right combination for a coupe, the OM654 diesel is so refined and understated that you’ll want to get out and check if there is a diesel under the bonnet. Only at idle and higher revs does the engine betray its diesel origins.
As an alternative to the diesel, you can choose the 4-cylinder CLE 300 4Matic with 258 PS plus 23 PS integrated starter generator or the 6-cylinder CLE 450 4Matic with 381 PS plus 23 PS from the integrated starter generator. The basic version CLE 200 with 204 + 23 PS will be added at the market launch. PHEV and AMG models are announced for next year. The CLE cabrio version was shown at the launch event in San Sebastian, Spain, and will be available from spring 2024.
All engine versions share the nine-speed automatic transmission and 48V mild hybrid system. During testing around San Sebastian, it behaved discreetly, with light engine starts and smooth gear changes. Only at quick load changes and high loads does an occasional jerk appear.
The CLE 220d has a luxurious interior with natural red leather, precise and well-balanced steering, and the latest generation of the MBUX multimedia system that is intuitive but requires little attention when navigating through different menus.
Optionally, you can order the Tech Package with Dynamic Body Control and integral steering, but first driving impressions show that the car handles decently even without this expensive option. The coupe absorbs bumps smoothly and goes elegantly over even larger bumps.