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The new CLE coupé, cabriolet and AMG

Words, selected images and video by Ken Pearson 


The gorgeous new CLE is now on sale in the UK! This striking new model replaces both the C-Class and E-Class coupés and thus has two rather desirable pairs of shoes to fill. Can it? Watch our first drive review below to find out all about the new model and read on to learn about the coupé, cabriolet and AMG models.




Meet the new CLE Coupé


It's gorgeous, isn't it? The CLE Coupé is striking in photos and on video but it looks even better in person. The narrow, wide trapezoid grille guides the eye to the flared front wheelarches and the large side air intakes which feature Mercedes-Benz stars printed into the material. They also feature in the grille, along with the large central star, but here are finished in bright silver. 

The long bonnet stretches back towards the rear-set passenger cabin where the roof peaks above the steering wheel and gently falls towards the bootlid to give the car its classic fastback coupé shape. Wide rear clusters with a single tick-shape LED strip give the car a brilliant impression of width and highlight the powerful rear arches with a strong character line emphasising the muscular hips.


It is one of my favourite designs to come from Mercedes-Benz in recent years - along with the new Mercedes-AMG SL which you can read about here. Just like the new grand touring roadster, the CLE Coupé turns heads and draws curious gazes from other road users. 




The interior is based on the C-Class cabin with a large T-shaped dashboard trim hosting the twin digital displays - one 12.3" screen for the driver and an 11.9" display for the main infotainment. This screen is angled by 5 degrees towards the driver which makes operation easier. Five air vents are illuminated with multicolour ambient lighting and can glow red when the climate control temperature is raised, or blue when it is reduced. 


The specially designed seats are well shaped, comfortable and supportive and have plenty of room for adjustment. They all feature heating, electric adjustment and memory functions as standard. I have spent around 6 hours in the drivers seat of the CLE and it is certainly a place that I am happy to be for short and long journeys alike - especially with the massage function switched on. The seats can fold out of the way to allow access to the rear of the cabin and to the second row of seats. Space is good overall in the rear but passengers over 6' tall will struggle for headroom. Two air vents, cupholders and USB-C charging ports can be found, but there is no central armrest for rear seat occupants. 


The tech is based on the latest generation Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, infotainment which runs quicker than before and features sharper, updated graphics with more customisation available. The driver can choose between multiple display styles including a classic two-dial view, a navigation map or a view of what the car can see from its sensors in the Assistance graphic. The central display can run a swipe-through layout with individual icons for applications like navigation, radio and comfort settings, or the car can learn what you use most with the Zero Layer display. This keeps the navigation on screen at all times with shortcuts and quick-selects for your most used features being added to the display over time.




With a fabulous exterior and interior design, the CLE Coupé runs the risk of being all show and no go, so what is it like to drive? Find out by watching my first drive review here.   


Open for all seasons: the new CLE Cabriolet 


As well as a two-door coupé, a soft-top cabriolet and this is now on sale in the UK. With its fabric acoustic multi-layer roof, the CLE Cabriolet promises great cabin refinement with the roof raised and the unbeatable feeling of unlimited headroom with it lowered. Thanks to an all-new fully electric operation, the roof can open and close quicker than before, taking less than 20 seconds whilst driving at speeds of up to 37 mph.


The cabin is nearly identical to the coupé but the central infotainment screen has the ability to tilt from 15 to 40 degrees to avoid glare when driving with the top down. Whilst the seats remain identical in their shape and material, they are treated with a special coating that reflects sunlight and keeps the seats cool even in direct sunlight. 


Cabriolet-specific standard equipment includes AIRSCARF neck-level heating and the AIRCAP two-piece wind deflectors which extend from the windscreen surround and the area behind the rear headrests. This reduces cabin buffetting without requiring a large wind deflector to render the rear of the cabin unusable for passengers. Luggage capacity comes in at 385 litres with the roof up and 295 with it lowered; an electric boot separator is included as standard on all models. 


Pricing begins at £52,995 for the new CLE Cabriolet with identical engines and model lines available. The soft top can be specified in black, red or grey at no extra cost. 




CLE model lines and engines  


With an entry price of £46,605 OTR, the coupé is only £900 more than an equivalent C-Class saloon. Pricing for the Cabriolet begins at £52,995. The model is strongly equipped as standard and broadly mirrors the C-Class specification list with 18" wheels, heated memory front seats, smartphone integration, blind spot assist, ambient lighting and illuminated door sills as standard.


AMG Line Premium adds DIGITAL LIGHT headlights for the most precise adaptive lighting on the road, 360o camera for an unparalleled view when parking, panoramic glass roof for a lighter cabin, keyless entry for convenient access, 19" wheels for a stronger visual stance and much more.


The AMG Line Premium Plus CLE plays more to the "E" part of its name with more luxury features joining the party. 20" wheels, the Burmester surround sound system, head-up display, and climatised front seats with massage function set the CLE apart from any of its competitors.


Available at launch is the Premier Edition. This limited edition variant gains the Night Package with black exterior trim elements, black 20" wheels, carbon fibre interior trim, a heated steering wheel and Nappa leather upholstery. 


The model launches with one diesel and three petrol options available; the CLE 200 opens the range with its 204 horsepower 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The CLE 300 4MATIC boosts the power output to 258 hp and introduces all-wheel drive to the drivetrain. The CLE 220 d features a highly efficient 2.0 litre twin-turbo diesel engine and is featured in our first drive video review; this is the perfect choice for high mileage drivers. For smooth, effortless performance choose the CLE 450 4MATIC with a 3.0 litre turbocharged 6-cylinder engine which delivers 381 hp and a 0-62 mph sprint time of just 4.4 seconds. 

All CLE models come with the super-smooth 9-speed automatic transmission and mild hybrid assistance on the engines. This helps to improve performance and efficiency by aiding acceleration and even allowing the engine to switch off whilst coasting. 


Three more letters, lots more performance: the new AMG CLE 53


The first Mercedes-AMG variant of the CLE family is on the way. The CLE 53 brings a mild-hybrid 3.0 litre straight six engine with 449 hp and 560 nm torque to the high performance party. This sends its output through a 9-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC+ all wheel drive to each driveshaft. As standard, the CLE 53 gets AMG RIDE CONTROL adjustable suspension and rear-axle steering. This will make the AMG model the most agile CLE thanks to the rear wheels being able to turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels at low speeds, reducing the turning circle. At higher speeds, all four wheels turn in the same direction to make high-speed maneuvering more stable.


Visually, there is no mistaking the CLE 53 for anything other than an AMG product; the widebody model has swelled, flared arches along with a reprofiled front and rear bumper that features quad-exit exhaust tips. A new scimitar-shaped side air outlet nicely compliments the bonnet air vent.




The interior also gets an AMG makeover with redesigned seats and model-specific MBUX infotainment displays. The multifunction steering wheel features two control dials that can alter things like the suspension, steering, exhaust and provide quick-selects for drive modes through DYNAMIC SELECT.


The CLE 53 is available in two flavours: Premium and Night Edition Premium Plus. This switches silver exterior trim and multispoke wheels to black and adds dark chrome exhaust tips at the rear. The optional Pro Performance package brings two-piece performance bucket seats, an enlarged rear spoiler, reprofiled front splitter and diffuser wing and red painted brake callipers to set the model apart. This also includes the AMG DYNAMIC PLUS package that brings active engine mounts, the RACE drive mode and a dedicated drift setting.


This model is available from £72,990 for the CLE 53 Premium and £78,740 for the Night Edition Premium Plus. The CLE 53 is the first AMG variant so watch this space for what is to come later down the line...


If you like what you see, why not experience it for yourself?  


Whilst we will have to wait until the spring for the first AMG and Cabriolets to hit the UK roads, our first demonstrator and showroom cars have arrived and are available to test drive now. Driving is believing with the new CLE Coupé so make sure to book your test drive now. 

Test drive the new CLE Coupé

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