New Mercedes CLE: sole Merc coupe priced from £46,605

The CLE is an all-new name within the Mercedes lineup, supposedly offering the best bits of the old C-Class and E-Class coupes in one package

The all-new Mercedes CLE – the replacement for the two-door versions of both the C-Class and E-Class – has gone on sale in the UK with prices starting from £46,605. That’s a few grand up on its chief rivals, the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 Coupe. 

At launch, the CLE can be had with one of four engines. There’s the petrol CLE 200 and CLE 300 4MATIC, which both utilise a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit – the latter getting more power and all-wheel drive – while the CLE 450 4MATIC that currently tops the range features a 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol motor under the bonnet. The diesel CLE 220 d also uses a 2.0-litre motor, and like every CLE, comes equipped with mild-hybrid technology and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

As well as the quartet of engines, buyers get a choice of four trim levels with the CLE, starting the familiar AMG Line specification. Standard kit on even the most basic CLE includes 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 11.9-inch portrait central touchscreen, 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a Nappa leather steering wheel, 64-colour ambient lighting and a wireless smartphone charging pad. Safety kit like blind spot assist, traffic-sign recognition and a reversing camera are also included.

Stepping up to AMG Line Premium trim costs an extra £3,750, but in return adds 19-inch wheels, a sliding panoramic sunroof, upgraded headlights, augmented-reality navigation for the central display, a 360-degree camera system and keyless go. AMG Line Premium Plus (an extra £4,000) piles on the luxuries with a head-up display, 17-speaker Burmester 3D surround sound system with Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio, 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, plus heated and cooled multi-contour front seats.

You’ll need to fork over a further £2,500 for a Premier Edition model that can be distinguished by the black accents that come with the Night Package, along with a set of 20-inch black rims. Inside, owners benefit from a heated steering wheel and Nappa leather upholstery.

Before you start trying to configure your perfect CLE, it’s worth noting the more potent all-wheel drive versions aren’t available in the bog-standard AMG Line trim. The most expensive model at launch is the CLE 450 4MATIC Premier Edition, priced at £72,765.

A convertible CLE is due to arrive sometime in 2024, while recent spy shots lead us to believe Mercedes’ AMG division will launch its performance-focused CLE in the coming months, too.

Exterior design 

The CLE is designed to sit in between the C-Class and E-Class with Mercedes claiming it’ll blend the best qualities of the two models. In terms of size it’s actually longer than the outgoing E-Class Coupe but is the same width and sits a little lower to give it a sleeker profile.

The front-end of the CLE is more akin to that of the C-Class than the new EQE-inspired E-Class. There are isolated LED headlights with a take on Mercedes’ Panamerica grille and more prominent bonnet bulges. To the side we see a simple design with clean surfacing and at the back a similar rear light design to the one on the new GLC Coupe. There are also fake twin exhaust tips, a diffuser and rear air vents to provide a sportier look. 

Interior and technology

Inside the CLE you’ll immediately notice plenty of design details and technology lifted from the C-Class and GLC. A 12.3-inch central touchscreen and 11.9-inch driver’s display feature with the latest MBUX infotainment system, which adds Mercedes’ new routines function. It essentially learns the habits of the driver and will automatically turn on the climate control, change the ambient lighting and even set reminders such as birthdays or telephone calls based on previous interactions.

Mercedes has also developed a new voice recognition system, first seen on the E-Class, where you no longer need to say ‘Hey Mercedes’ to alert it. Instead, if the driver is alone in the car they can operate the voice control when a red microphone symbol appears on the driver’s display cluster. 

Over-the-air updates will be made available to CLE owners throughout its lifespan and in some markets the car will be able to offer 5G internet connectivity. The central screen also features new apps like TikTok, the Vivaldi web browser and even the Angry Birds game. 

Mercedes has also equipped a slew of safety features as standard, including attention assist, active brake assist, lane keeping, speed limit warning and a reversing camera. More safety systems are available with the ‘Driving Assistance Package Plus’ such as active speed limit assist, evasive steering assist and active lane change assist.

Given the wheelbase is 8mm shorter than the E-Class Coupe’s, the CLE’s interior is slightly smaller. There’s less legroom and headroom in the rear and the 420-litre boot is 5 litres down on the two-door E-Class – but also 60 litres up on the old C-Class Coupe. 

Engines and performance

The CLE sits on the MRA2 platform, which also underpins the C-Class, E-Class, S-Class and GLC. From launch the CLE is offered with one diesel and three petrol engines, all of which come with 48V mild-hybrid assistance and are mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. A plug-in hybrid variant will join the range later on.

The diesel CLE 220 d produces 194bhp and 440Nm of torque for a 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds. The integrated starter generator is unchanged between each model and allows for coasting, small amounts of boost and recuperation. This being the second generation ISG system, power stands at 23bhp with boost torque of 200Nm.

The petrol-powered line-up kicks off with the CLE 200. There’s 201bhp and 320Nm of torque, knocking 0.1 seconds off the diesel’s 0-62mph time. Mercedes claims an average mpg figure of 44.1mpg for the 200 against 60.1mpg for the 220 d. Both are rear-wheel drive.

Move up to the CLE 300 4MATIC and there's 255bhp and 400Nm of torque on tap, plus all-wheel drive. That means acceleration drops to 6.2 seconds to 62mph and an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph. The CLE 450 4MATIC is even quicker thanks to 375bhp and 500Nm of torque helped by the revised twin-scroll turbocharger set up. It’s the quickest of the bunch to 62mph – at 4.4 seconds – until the Mercedes-AMG variants arrive. 

Rear-axle steering is offered as part of the ‘Dynamic Body Control’ package. This enables the CLE’s rear wheels to steer by up to 2.5 degrees. The package also adds continuous adjustable damping. As standard, the CLE is lowered by 15mm compared to the E-Class.

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