by Karl Furlong
In the late 1990s, Mercedes-Benz introduced the CLK Coupe. Based on the underpinnings of the C-Class but with styling more akin to the E-Class of the time, it was a successful recipe. Over two decades later, Mercedes-Benz is repeating a similar formula with the new CLE which is set to replace both the C-Class Coupe and more luxurious E-Class Coupe. It remains to be seen whether the CLE will occupy a perfect middle ground between the two or if it will err on the side of compact sportiness (C-Class) or luxury (E-Class).
We expect a new generation of four-cylinder engines and the latest interior technology from Mercedes when the car is fully revealed. An antithesis to a horde of high-riding crossovers, the new Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe should once again place the emphasis on style and dynamism.
A release date for the Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe hasn't been specified. However, we expect it to be revealed in the last quarter of this year. It will be coming out some time after the 4 Series Coupe, so the Mercedes should have the edge as the newer car.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe's price hasn't been shared. As it replaces both the C- and E-Class coupe models, it will be interesting to see how the automaker prices it. With a size that looks closer to the C-Class, we expect the CLE-Class to start at about $55,000 MSRP. The 2022 C-Class Coupe begins at $47,850.
The CLE's main rivals will be the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series Coupe. Whereas the 2022 Audi A5 will cost $46,000 for the base trim, the 2023 BMW 4 Series begins at $47,400. As has been the case with the C-Class Coupe, we expect the CLE to retain a slight premium over its German foes.
Based on spy shots we've seen, the Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe's exterior design will be in line with other new models from the brand. In profile, it's a typical coupe with the long hood and sloping roofline. The new LED headlights are similar to those of the latest C-Class, and the subtly redesigned grille will remain familiar to Mercedes fans.
The taillights appear to be smaller than before, but until the camouflage comes off entirely, it isn't obvious what changes have been made. One detail worth mentioning are the small rear side windows which don't appear to have the E-Class Coupe's ability to lower all four side windows individually. This was a neat trick that we appreciated on the E that also filled the cabin with an airier feel on warm days.
If the Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe's colors are similar to the C-Class Coupe's, expect hues like Black, Polar White, Graphite Grey, and a few special Manufaktur metallics to make an appearance.
Our expectation is that the Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe's dimensions won't stray far from the C-Class Coupe which has a length of 184.5 inches, a height of 55.3 inches, and a width including the mirrors of 79.4 inches.
Like the new C-Class, the Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe's engine lineup is likely to start with a 300-badged model. That implies a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with mild-hybrid assist with specs of 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The more athletic coupe may be lighter so could prove to be faster than the C300 sedan's 0-60 mph sprint of six seconds. In the C-Class, this engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission.
Presumably called the CLE 300, this is the only non-AMG version of the CLE-Class we expect to be sold in the USA. A CLE 43 and CLE 63 AMG are likely in the pipeline which would give Mercedes-AMG something to compete with BMW's M440i and M4, respectively. We already know that the C63 will ditch the classic V8 in favor of a four-cylinder, but it won't be short on power. With hybrid assistance, the new C63 is expected to make an astonishing 670 hp.
The CLE-Class Coupe should come in both rear- and all-wheel-drive guises.
The all-new C-Class's gas mileage figures should give us an accurate idea of what to expect from the CLE. With RWD, the C300 achieves 25/35/29 mpg city/highway/combined, dropping to 23/33/27 mpg with the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The efficient four-pot should give the CLE a decent enough range for cross-country jaunts.
We haven't seen the Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe's interior yet, but the new C-Class's cabin (pictured below) will likely pave the way for the CLE. Expect Merc's 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, an 11.9-inch touchscreen, and the latest iteration of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) system inside. The C-Class has a beautiful cabin with rich materials and tasteful ambient lighting, but it would be nice if Mercedes differentiated the CLE with a bespoke design.
The Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe's seats will likely come with MB-Tex upholstery as standard, but as always, the German marque will replace the standard seats with leather or sportier AMG-inspired designs if you pay for it. Space in the second row will probably be tighter than in the C-Class sedan, but that's the norm for a coupe.
Standard safety equipment is expected to include blind-spot assist, LED exterior lighting, and attention assist, but Mercedes has one of the most extensive optional safety suites on the market. Here, buyers can add adaptive cruise control, active parking assist, route-based speed adaptation, and a lot more.
The Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe's cargo space probably won't be anything to write home about as the C-Class Coupe has just 10.5 cubic feet of volume.