Our colleagues from auto motor und sport took part in the first test drive of the Mercedes CLE as passengers. Here are their first impressions.

Photo: Mercedes 

The history of Mercedes coupes has been quite turbulent over the last 25 years. Initially, there were the two Mercedes CLK generations:
– the first generation based on the C-Class W202 (code name C208/A208 for CLK Cabrio) produced between 1997-2003
– the second generation based on the C-Class W203 (codename C209/A209 for CLK Cabrio) produced between 2003-2010

Mercedes then decided to replace the CLK with the Mercedes E-Class Coupe. Although it was called the E-Class Coupe, it is based on the platform of the C-Class W204. Codenamed C207/A207 it was produced from 2010 to 2017.

In 2015, Mercedes decided to separate the C-Class and E-Class coupes. Thus, in 2015 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Mercedes launched the C-Class Coupe based on the C-Class W205, and in 2016 the C-Class Cabrio followed. Both are still in production.

Then, in 2017, at the Detroit autoshow, Mercedes launched the new E-Class Coupe, followed by the E-Class Cabrio at the Geneva motorshow in spring 2017. Codenamed C238/A238, these models replaced the former E-Class Coupe C207/A207 and are still in production today.

The C-Class Coupe and E-Class Coupe will be replaced now by a single model, the new Mercedes CLE. Mercedes says customers of the smaller, sportier C-Class Coupe wanted a bigger car, and customers of the opulent E-Class Coupe wanted a more sportier car.

Mercedes made the decision to narrow the conventional model lineup so it could invest more in electrification. “But that shouldn’t sound like a bad compromise,” said Christof Kuhner, the former C-Class test manager, currently in charge of testing the Mercedes CLE and the new E-Class.

For now, the front and rear are covered, but we got an idea of the front-end design when Gorden Wagener explained in a workshop on Instagram how the new design will look like.
The Mercedes CLE features a fastback silhouette with a long hood and a small spoiler on the trunk lid. But compared to the Audi A7, the Mercedes CLE is a three-volume coupe with a separate trunk. There will also be doors without frames on the windows.

The rear windows are surrounded by a black surround, probably part of the Night package. The radiator grille is slightly tilted forward and is divided by a horizontal bar that includes the Mercedes logo.

Adaptive suspension and integral steering
The base Avantgarde version comes with classic steel spring suspension. Next comes the sport suspension which will probably be the most in demand. The top version will have adaptive suspension and integral steering with 2.5 degrees steering angle.

Many powertrain options, including a 6-cylinder option
Base models will have 4-cylinder engines with 48V mild hybrid: CLE 200 with 197 ps/194 hp and CLE 300 with 258 ps/254 hp, both with 14 ps/13.8 hp starter generator. For now, the top version will be the CLE 450 with the 367 ps/362 hp 3-liter inline 6-cylinder engine mated with a 22 hp starter generator.

There will be no shortage of two diesel versions either: CLE 220d with 194 ps/191 hp and CLE 300 d with 265 ps/261 hp and integrated 20 ps/19.7 hp starter generator.

A PHEV version called the Mercedes CLE 300e with a 2-liter 204 ps/201 hp turbocharged engine will also be available at a later date, coupled with a 136 ps/134 hp electric motor, like those used in the GLC 300e 4Matic.

The 6-cylinder version comes standard with 4Matic all-wheel drive, diesel, and PHEVs will have rear-wheel drive only, and petrol engines will be optionally available with all-wheel drive.

Much more spacious
At 4.945 m, the new CLE is 1.5 cm longer than the current E-Class Coupe, so we expect it to offer an airy interior. The rear bench is comfortable, and only the roof that slopes steeply down to the rear restricts a little of the interior height in the back. Our colleagues at auto motor und sport rode in the front passenger seat for first impressions in a version with the 6-cylinder engine.

The engine is pleasantly quiet even under acceleration, and sometimes you wish you could open the window to hear the sound of the engine. Fitted with 20-inch wheels (245/35 front and 275/30 rear), the coupe has been running on the winding roads around the Sindelfingen plant. Compared to the E-Class, the suspension is firmer, and body movement is more restrained. Equipped with adaptive suspension, body roll is reduced, and at the same time the CLE elegantly cushions short bumps.

Based on the MRA2 platform, the new Mercedes CLE will not come cheap. Currently, the Mercedes E-Class Coupe starts at 60,000 euro/$64,129, and the C-Class Coupe starts at 48,766 euro/$52,122.

The new Mercedes CLE will be unveiled this year and the market launch will follow also this year. The Cabrio version will debut in the summer of 2024.