Mercedes-Benz is putting the finishing touches to the all-new CLE coupe and CLE cabriolet ahead of a planned unveiling for the new two-door models, codenamed C236 and A236, respectively, in 2023.
- The CLE will be based on the fifth-gen C-Class platform
- It will get its own distinct styling
- Four-cylinder engine expected across the range
2023 Mercedes-Benz CLE: what is it?
Due shortly before the sixth-generation E-Class sedan arrives overseas next year, the CLE has been developed as a replacement for six Mercedes-Benz models: both the coupe and convertible versions of the C-Class, E-Class and S-Class.
The move comes as Mercedes-Benz consolidates its R&D spending on conventional combustion-engined models in favour of expanding its line-up with dedicated EQ-badged EVs such as the new EQE sedan, EQE SUV and EQS SUV – all of which are set to hit showrooms internationally within the next 12 months.
The first stage of the consolidation plan was carried out in 2020 when Mercedes-Benz ended production of the S-Class coupe and cabriolet. Since then, it has also ushered in a new version of the C-Class, exclusively in four and five-door guises.
2023 Mercedes-Benz CLE: platform and dimensions
The basis for the CLE is this newly introduced, fifth-generation C-Class sedan, which sits on Mercedes’ second-generation MRA platform. Dimensionally, the new CLE slots between today’s 4,686mm-long C-Class cabriolet and the 4,826mm long E-Class cabriolet, lining it up as a direct rival to the two-door derivatives of the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series.
2023 Mercedes-Benz CLE: design
Photos of a heavily disguised CLE cabriolet prototype undergoing cold weather testing confirm earlier reports that the new model will feature its own unique styling, with a racier profile and more muscular appearance than the C-Class.
As with the outgoing C-Class, E-Class and S-Class cabriolets, the new open-top model receives a multi-layered fabric roof. Similar to the one used by the existing E-Class cabriolet, it’s designed to stow at the rear of the cabin under a plastic tonneau cover.
Prototypes of the CLE coupe have yet to appear in public, but insiders have told our sister publication Autocar UK that it has a pillarless roof design in keeping with the existing E-Class coupe.
2023 Mercedes-Benz CLE: interiors
Inside, the CLE adopts the cabin architecture of the latest C-Class, including a dashboard featuring a standard-fit digital instrument panel and a portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment of up to 11.9-inch.
Finer details, including aspects such as the shape of the air vents, are said to be shared with the new E-Class saloon in a bid to give the CLE a suitably upmarket positioning.
2023 Mercedes-Benz CLE: powertrain
As with the new C-Class, the CLE will be offered exclusively with longitudinally mounted four-cylinder engines in both standard and AMG models. In keeping with Mercedes’ plans to do away with manual shifters, all models will have a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Milder versions will get rear-wheel drive, with the more performance-oriented models set to run Mercedes’ 4Matic four-wheel drive system.
Alongside conventional petrol units, the new coupe and cabriolet will offer at least one petrol-electric plug-in hybrid unit, including a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine and electric motor system claimed to develop more than 500hp in a range-topping AMG CLE 63e 4Matic+ model.
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