by Karl Furlong
We've known for some time that Mercedes-Benz will be replacing both the C-Class Convertible and E-Class Convertible with a single model expected to be known as the CLE-Class Convertible. This forms part of the brand's greater plan to streamline a previously bloated lineup of coupes and drop-tops. The CLE Convertible is expected to blend luxury and technology with the glamor of open-top motoring, just as Merc's cabriolets have done for decades. Although it hasn't been officially revealed yet, we have a fair idea of what to expect from this sleek drop-top that will have to compete with the BMW 4 Series Convertible, a sportier alternative but one that may not match the posh Mercedes for sheer luxury.
The Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible's release date remains unknown, but as Mercedes has been spotted testing the vehicle for some time now, we anticipate a reveal towards the end of 2022.
The price of the Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible in the USA hasn't yet been confirmed by the German automaker. Based on test mules we've seen, the CLE appears closer in size to the C-Class Convertible than the E-Class Convertible. Therefore, we expect pricing to be closer to the former. For reference, the 2022 C-Class Convertible begins at $55,400. We estimate that the new Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible will cost around $60,000 MSRP before any options or upgrades.
Rivals will include the BMW 4 Series Convertible, especially since both BMW and Audi don't have an E-Class-sized drop-top. In the USA, the BMW starts at $55,500.
The Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible's dimensions are expected to be closer to the C-Class than the E-Class, despite it replacing both of these models. The 2022 C-Class Convertible's specs read as follows: 184.5 inches in length, 55.4 inches in height, and 79.4 inches in width. We expect the CLE-Class to be a little larger, but not by much.
We expect the Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible's engine choices to mirror those of the new C-Class sedan. That would mean a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with mild-hybrid assist in the C300. In the C-Class, this engine makes 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and can propel the sedan from 0-60 mph in six seconds. The CLE-Class might be heavier, though, so it may be slightly less sprightly. A nine-speed automatic transmission is likely.
A more powerful AMG version should be on the cards, too. A potential CLE 43 could share the C43's four-pot which makes an impressive 402 hp and 369 lb-ft. That's more than enough power, but sadly, we shouldn't expect sonorous V6 and V8 engines as Mercedes continues phasing out these large-capacity engines. The carmaker's rear-biased 4Matic all-wheel-drive system should enable this hot CLE 43 to put the power down smoothly. A CLE 63 will be even more powerful, but as this is a convertible, Mercedes may stick with the lower-powered versions only.
Gas mileage figures haven't yet been published for the CLE, but the 2022 C300 sedan with rear-wheel drive can achieve 25/35/29 mpg city/highway/combined. The cabriolet shouldn't be too far off those numbers, providing a perfect blend of efficiency and power. Naturally, AMG versions will be heavier on gas, but the new-generation turbo-fours are far more efficient than the V6s and V8s that AMG used to pump out.
To match the sleek exterior, the Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible's interior is expected to share its basic design with the C-Class sedan's (pictured below). It certainly won't be short on style and gadgetry inside, as evidenced by the C300 sedan's 11.9-inch touchscreen display, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and snazzy LED ambient lighting in 64 colors.
The seats of the Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible should be covered in MB-Tex upholstery as standard with available leather upholstery as an option. Being a convertible, heated seats and Merc's Airscarf system will be essential for keeping warm with the top down. Where the CLE will differ from the C-Class is in the second row; rear-seat legroom probably won't be as generous as in the sedan.
Blind-spot assist, adaptive cruise control, attention assist, and an available surround-view camera system are just a handful of the many driver-assist technologies we expect in the CLE.
As for the Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible's cargo space, we're hoping it has a bit more space than the 8.8 cubic feet of volume in the existing C-Class Convertible.