Press review Mercedes CLE versus Audi A5 Coupe, BMW 4 Series coupe by auto motor und sport

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The German magazine Auto Motor und Sport conducted a comparison test between the new Mercedes CLE and its rivals Audi A5 Coupe and BMW 4 Series Coupe. In the test, the Mercedes CLE 400 4Matic is up against the Audi A5 45 TFSI Quattro S Line and BMW 430i xDrive MSport.

Photo: Auto motor und Sport

True coupes, with two-door and a three-volume body, have become rare. The Audi A5 won’t have a successor, and Mercedes only has one coupe left in the range, down from three a few years ago. Mercedes is trying to lure back classic coupe fans with the eye-catching design of the new CLE, which is the sole successor to the C and E-Class coupes.

Mercedes is more spacious
The new Mercedes CLE is the longest (4.85 meters) and has the longest wheelbase (2.87 meters) of the three coupes in the test. Thus, it offers the best access to the rear bench through the large doors, and in the rear, medium-sized passengers benefit from the largest head and knee room.

The new Mercedes CLE is a few thousand euros more expensive than its rivals because it comes standard with the AMG Line Exterior, and AMG Line Interior packages, electrically adjustable and heated seats, and, typical of Mercedes coupes, the seatbelt automatically comes to hand when you get in the front.

The turbocharged 4-cylinder engine offers good performance but seems more taxed than rival engines with similar power as it has to contend with 230 kg more weight compared to the Audi A5 Coupe, which is 1608kg. That’s why the extra 30 Nm of torque compared to the Audi doesn’t feel like much either. In corners, however, you don’t feel the extra kilos thanks to the responsive steering and integral steering (2320.50 euros in the adaptive suspension package, present in the test car). The Mercedes CLE 300 4Matic also has very good brakes, stopping from 100 kph in just 32 meters, 2 meters earlier than the A5. But the soft, longer-stroke brake pedal dosage takes some getting used to.

The suspension setup also leaves an ambivalent impression. On the one hand, the optional adaptive suspension smoothly levels out long bumps and gives the coupe the composure needed to go long distances with a shrug. On the other hand, on bumpy roads, the CLE’s suspension isn’t very harmonious, and there’s a lot of body roll.

BMW is sportier
With all-wheel drive with a predominantly rearward torque distribution, the BMW is sportier, especially if you also order the sport differential (1,435 euro) and the MSport package (3,720 euro) with MSport suspension (optional 500 euro adaptive M suspension). That’s why, especially in Sport Plus mode, BMW gives the rear axle more room to maneuver and is always prepared for slight skids when exiting corners. The BMW turns extremely agile, which makes it a master of cornering and gives you great driving pleasure. Conversely, with the firm suspension setup, the BMW goes hard over transverse joints.

The 2-litre engine has the same 400 Nm of torque as the Mercedes but feels more powerful than the Mercedes. However, BMW’s turbocharged powertrain is a little rougher than usual, and the interaction with the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is less harmonious than with the six-cylinder variants. Inside, the materials don’t look cheap, but the BMW doesn’t look as premium as the sleek Mercedes and fine Audi.

Audi A5 with Golf GTI engine
The Audi A5 is an old-school coupe and emphasizes technocratic sobriety and the best build quality. The turbocharged 2-litre engine comes from the Golf GTI, but the typical GTI sound has been toned down. Instead, the engine responds as spontaneously as in the Golf GTI, and delivers 370 Nm of torque from 1600 rpm and then revs faster than its rivals. The Quattro all-wheel drive system is geared more toward efficiency than sportiness and transfers the 265 hp to the asphalt in an optimal way. So the A5 Coupe accelerates faster than its rivals: 0-100 kph in 5.5 seconds ahead of BMW (5.8s) and Mercedes (6.4s).

In contrast, the efficiency-oriented four-wheel drive doesn’t cause much distraction, the steering is lighter, it’s longer demultiplicated, and Audi understeers at the limit. With the adaptive Comfort suspension (690 euros), damping is smoother than in the Mercedes. Although it has no mild hybrid system like BMW and Mercedes, the Audi consumes the least, recording 8.5 l/100 km (BMW 8.6 l/100 km, Mercedes 8.8 l/100 km).

Audi is the cheapest at 56,500 euros or 58,100 with the S Line package. The BMW 430i xDrive is more expensive, costing 61,200 euros or 64,920 euros with the M Sport package, but comes standard with navigation, which costs an extra 2,505 euros at Audi. Mercedes is even more expensive at 68,544 euros, which is explained by the fact that it comes standard with the AMG Line Interior and Exterior packages, AMG Line Advanced, and MBUX multimedia system. Even so, the Mercedes is the most expensive if you take the same equipments into account. Surprisingly, the Audi A5 Coupe won the test, not just because of price. Although it is the oldest, the Audi A5 won because of its maturity, very good quality, powerful and economical engine, and very comfortable suspension.
You can read the comparison test in detail here.