by Karl Furlong
Mercedes-Benz has officially revealed the all-new CLE, a model that replaces two-door versions of the previous C-Class and E-Class. Although the manufacturer has only detailed information for the CLE Coupe, we can safely assume that the CLE Convertible will be mechanically identical while offering buyers the glamor and flexibility of dropping the roof at the touch of a button. Two mild-hybrid engine options should be available based on the CLE Coupe, with the most powerful version being a 3.0-liter inline-six mill with 375 horsepower. The posh interior will share many components with the C-Class while borrowing some of the best technologies from the latest E-Class. Is this the new premium cabriolet to have? Let's find out.
See trim levels and configurations:
Mercedes-Benz hasn't said exactly when the 2024 CLE Convertible's release date will be, but we do know that the coupe will be coming out in the USA in early 2024, with the automaker stating that the convertible "will follow." We expect the cabriolet to arrive halfway through next year.
As with its release date, the price of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible is unknown. Considering that it's quite a bit larger than the older C-Class Cabriolet that starts at $59,250, we anticipate that the new CLE Cabriolet will cost around $63,000-$65,000 for the CLE 300, likely exceeding $70k for the CLE 450.
As for the CLE Convertible's rivals, both the BMW 4 Series Convertible and Audi A5 Convertible are likely to be cheaper and smaller, but we'll only know for sure once the Merc's specs are known. The 2024 4 Series Convertible starts at an MSRP of $60,100, and the 2023 A5 Cabriolet currently costs $53,900.
The Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible's exterior has much in common with the CLE Coupe. Mercedes has retained elegant and clean lines, while the body has more angularity than the blobs that make up the marque's EQ range.
Exterior features on the Merc CLE Convertible echo those of the echo, including a grille with a narrower top section and the large star emblem in the center that looks a lot like the one on the C-Class sedan. The forward-leaning front section has a "shark nose" design, and there are stylish LED High Performance headlights or optional Digital Light headlights. Higher up, the hood has two power domes. As on the coupe, standard 18-inch alloys on the CLE 300 should be upgraded to 19-inch alloys on the CLE 450, which comes with standard AMG Line body styling. However, many other wheel designs will be available, measuring up to 20 inches in size.
While we don't know how quickly the roof opens or closes, it's obvious from the official images that this will be a soft top, so it shouldn't come with too much of a weight penalty. The roof will be available in a striking red finish, but a black roof will probably be standard. Further customization by way of ten exterior colors for the Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible should be available based on what's offered for the coupe.
At the back, the drop-top has the same curvy two-part LED taillights that look similar to the ones on the CLA. Here, they're connected by a dark red strip, and there is an attractive and high-tech three-dimensional light body in each cluster.
Dimensions for the new Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible should be in line with the coupe, which means that it will be much closer in size to the outgoing E-Class Convertible than the C-Class Convertible. The CLE Coupe has a length of 191 inches, making it 0.6 inches longer than the E-Class Coupe. Its width is 73.2 inches, its height is 56.2 inches, and the wheelbase is 112.8 inches. We don't expect the convertible to deviate from these figures much, if at all.
As for its curb weight, the CLE Convertible will probably be a bit heavier than the coupe due to the extra components of the folding roof and any stiffening of the body which may be required. The outgoing E450 4Matic Convertible came in at 4,453 pounds, and the new CLE 450 will probably be similar, with the four-cylinder CLE 300 weighing a bit less.
Merc's coupes and cabriolets from the same model line have typically shared identical powertrains, and we don't foresee that changing here. That means that there will be two mild-hybrid engine choices for the Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible.
The first one is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder unit in the CLE 300 that generates 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. An upgraded electric motor should contribute another 23 hp and 148 lb-ft. This system will fill in any torque gaps and also improve the operation of the start/stop system so that the driver doesn't experience any annoying jolts when the engine switches on and off. In the CLE 450 Convertible, expect a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder with 375 hp and 369 lb-ft. This will be the easy choice between the two powertrains if the price isn't too far out of reach. In 450 guise, the CLE Convertible will probably be able to accomplish the 0-60 mph sprint in just under five seconds.
The CLE Coupe comes only with a nine-speed automatic transmission and the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, which means that the previous rear-wheel-drive option falls away. It's hard to see the CLE Convertible deviating from this setup in any way.
The latest Mercedes C300 sedan has exactly the same engine as the CLE 300, so until the CLE's EPA ratings are released, we can look to the former to get an idea of gas mileage. This C300 returns 24/33/27 mpg city/highway/combined in 4Matic guise, but since the CLE 300 Convertible will likely be quite a bit heavier, it will probably get closer to 25 mpg combined.
Assuming there is a CLE 450 4Matic Convertible, it will probably return figures more in line with the E450 4Matic Convertible's 22/29/24 mpg. It all depends on whether the latest mild-hybrid system can cancel out a potential weight gain from the E450 Convertible to the new CLE 450 Convertible.
Unsurprisingly, the interior of the new Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible will feel a lot like being in the CLE Coupe or C-Class, with the major difference being the ability to lower the roof at the touch of a button.
While not everyone will like the fact that so many Mercedes interiors look the same, it does help when the basic design is so opulent. Between the fine upholstery choices, well-integrated ambient lighting, and bright digital displays, there is a lot to enjoy inside the CLE Convertible. From the images, it appears that the CLE Convertible has the same 11.9-inch tilted center touchscreen and 12.3-inch digital driver's display as the coupe.
Mercedes has introduced the next generation of software for the MBUX infotainment system, and it represents an entirely new way of interacting with the car. While you can still manually adjust temperature settings or the plethora of other functions, multiple routines can be created that won't require intervention from the driver. For instance, the 'Cold Days' routine can instantly switch on the seat heating and switch on a warmer shade of lighting when the temperature drops. Customers can create their own routines based on their tastes, and AI-generated routines will learn from the driver's habits and automate functions if it learns that the driver enjoys the same thing - seat massaging, for instance - at the same time.
Other highlights include a 17-speaker Burmester 3D sound system with Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos, 5G data transmission, access to third-party apps like TikTok, and the ability to use the video conferencing app, Zoom. Again, these details have all been confirmed for the coupe but should filter through to the convertible, too.
To keep everyone safe and make each journey more relaxing, the CLE comes with standard attention assist, active lane-keeping assist, speed limit assist, and the parking package. Adaptive cruise control, active steering assist, and a multitude of other driver-assistance features will be available.
There are four seats in the Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible, and the coupe's specifications show that while it is easily more spacious than the C-Class Coupe, it doesn't match the E-Class Coupe in every area. Rear legroom in the coupe, for instance, is 2.2 inches greater than the C-Class Coupe but 1.7 inches less than in the E-Class Coupe. However, the CLE Coupe has more rear shoulder and elbow room than both those older models, as should the CLE Convertible. Access to the second row is made simpler with an Easy-Entry system featuring a Nappa leather loop that, when tugged, quickly unlocks the front seats from their position.
Standard black MB-Tex upholstery can be replaced by Macchiato Beige/Black or Tonka Brown/Black alternatives. Leather can also be optioned to cover the seats, and it's the soft Nappa type with quilted and perforated diamond shapes. Mercedes is also keen to note that this leather is sustainably processed with plant-based tanning agents.
In the CLE 450 Coupe, Mercedes has confirmed that the beltlines and instrument panel will both have black MB-Tex coverings featuring a Nappa-look finish. A new silver mixed-metal fabric trim is available alongside more traditional options like open-pored black wood veneer and natural grain walnut wood. CLE Convertible trims will likely have access to all the same options.
Because of the more complex roof mechanism, the cargo space in the Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible probably won't match the 14.8 cubic feet volume of the CLE Coupe - at least, not when the roof is down. With the roof up, there should be a similar amount of space available.
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