Home » The 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE Is The Rebirth Of The CLK

The 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE Is The Rebirth Of The CLK

Mercedes Benz Cle Topshot
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Just a few short years ago, you could walk into any Mercedes-Benz showroom and choose from an astounding array of coupes. From the C-Class coupe to the S-Class coupe and everywhere in between, the personal luxury car was back at Mercedes in a big way. However, while people could walk in and buy a sweet new coupe, relatively few did. As a result, Mercedes-Benz announced model consolidation, killing off most of its coupes to have fewer models covering the market. Weirdly, this isn’t the first time Mercedes has pulled its coupe range back. In the later half of the 1990s, the magnificent C124 E-Class coupe was replaced by a cheaper, C-Class-based car called the CLK because nobody wanted to spend S-Class money on a six-cylinder E-Class. More than two decades since the launch of the CLK, the CL model prefix is back. Say hello to the Mercedes-Benz CLE.

Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé, exterior: AMG line, graphite grey magno; interior: AMG line, nappa leather tonka brown

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On first glance, the CLE looks like a C-Class run through a hotel trouser press, and I don’t mean that disparagingly. From the grille shape to the headlights to the sharp character lines running down the fenders, everything seems crisper, sharper, and more stylish. Well, almost everything, as some of the details are questionable. For example, the fake vents on the front end have a smattering of tiny three-pointed stars molded into them, which feels somewhat vulgar.

Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé, exterior: AMG line, graphite grey magno; interior: AMG line, nappa leather tonka brown

Oh, and the tail lights look bad. One ounce Infiniti QX55, two cups massive black bezel from a late-aughts HTC phone, bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes and serve up as a cheap-looking element on an otherwise very classy car. Mind you, the taillights aren’t the biggest annoyance on the outside of the Mercedes-Benz CLE.

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Judging by the massive frit bands around the quarter windows, this doesn’t look to be a pillarless coupe, and a quick perusal of the door card reveals just two window switches and a shot of the interior shows the B-pillar. This is rather disappointing as Mercedes does pillarless coupes so well. From the C123 to the last E-Class coupe, there’s just something magical about opening everything up and letting the breeze in. Without B-pillars in the way, a pillarless coupe feels almost as close to nature as a cabriolet, but without the maintenance of a cloth roof or the heft of a power-retractable hardtop.

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What’s more, you can get the CLE as a cabriolet, meaning the bulk of the structure needed to build a pillarless coupe version should already exist. While going with a fixed pillar saves cost and complexity, what are people buying German luxury cars for if not cost and complexity?

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The sting of having B-pillars fades as soon as you look at the engine lineup for the CLE. Sure, the base CLE 300 4MATIC comes with Mercedes’ perfectly adequate 255-horsepower two-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, but that’s not what you want. Instead, step on up to the CLE 450 4MATIC and you’ll get an engine never seen in a C-Class: The sublime three-liter twin-turbocharged M256 inline-six. Pumping out 375 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque in this application, every experience I’ve had with this engine has been nothing but positive. It feels impossibly smooth, pulls with refined determination all the way to redline, and has one of the best stop-start systems I’ve ever experienced. It is Alfred Pennyworth on 93 octane.

Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé, exterior: AMG line, graphite grey magno; interior: AMG line, nappa leather tonka brown

Regardless of which engine you choose in the CLE, power makes its way to all four wheels through a variant of Mercedes’ familiar nine-speed automatic transmission. The marque claims that this particular gearbox has seen its ancillaries strategically compacted and lightened, including a 30 percent reduction in the weight of the “transmission control,” which sounds peculiarly vague. Speaking of mandatory powertrain bits, every CLE gets a 48-volt mild hybrid system that uses a 17 kilowatt integrated starter generator to smooth out stop-start and provide a little power boost when necessary.

Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupé, exterior: AMG line, graphite grey magno; interior: AMG line, nappa leather tonka brown

On the inside, the Mercedes-Benz CLE is pure C-Class, which isn’t a bad thing. The current C-Class has a gorgeous selection of materials and a massive 12.3-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment system that’s sure to wow buyers, although capactive touch controls on the steering wheel elicit their fair share of eye-rolling. Still, in-car tech rarely dates well, so eschewing the new E-Class’ three-screen setup may help the CLE in the long run.

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Don’t think of the Mercedes-Benz CLE as spartan though. It still comes with its own app store than includes TikTok, a standard Burmester audio system with headrest speakers set into stylish high-back seats, and enough multicolor ambient lighting to coat a streamer’s bedroom. In addition, Mercedes claims that each driver profile covers “around 800” adjustable parameters, which means that a printed owner’s manual would likely take up more shelf space than the complete works of Dickens. While you don’t need a degree in computer science to operate this car, it might help.

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Expect the 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE coupe to roll into showrooms in early 2024 at a starting price of, well, nobody knows, but Mercedes-Benz has to tread carefully here. Sizing positions the CLE closer to the E-Class, but this thing’s also a C-Class coupe replacement. Some semblance of affordability seems necessary in order to pick up previous-generation C-Class coupe owners, but the new C-Class is unbelievably expensive so it’s anyone’s guess what the CLE might compete with on sticker. Could the six-cylinder model possibly kiss Lexus LC 500 pricing? We’ll just have to wait and see. If pricing ends up closer to the BMW 4-Series coupe, Mercedes-Benz could have a winner here, B-pillars and all.

(Photo credits: Mercedes-Benz)

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EricTheViking
EricTheViking
11 months ago

I guess Mercedes-Benz is skimping on money for this coupé. The overall body design is more or less an update of W204 C-Class coupé.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
11 months ago

The B pillar was the first thing I noticed as well. I love pillarless coupes and have looked at getting a used E 350 coupe many times.

Myk El
Myk El
11 months ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

I totally get that. I’ve been tempted by many a Mercedes pillarless coupes, but then I look up reliability and I get over it.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
11 months ago
Reply to  Myk El

The 2010-11 E350 has stellar reliability from everything I’ve seen, but it’s literally those 2 model years and that’s it pretty much haha

Philip Dunlop
Philip Dunlop
11 months ago

I’m never in the demographic for a car like this, but I’m glad to see them still being made all the same. Really like the exterior. Not crazy about the interior but whatever. Maybe when my wife inevitably decides to divorce me and electrical gremlins cause the prices of these to fall through the floor on the used market I’ll own one.

Ana Osato
Ana Osato
11 months ago

A B-pillar coupé is a sad coupé.

Sundance
Sundance
11 months ago
Reply to  Ana Osato

So, how many coupés did you drive b-pillar/b-pillarless? Maybe no coupé at all? That’s what I believe.

Sundance
Sundance
11 months ago

That design is another reason to keep my ’98 CLK320 (btw: non-pillarless as well).

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
11 months ago

From the 3/4, it looks like an Audi TTS with a nose transplant.

Emil Minty
Emil Minty
11 months ago

Looking at the lines in the hood . . . the Crossfire lives on! 😉

EDIT: Unseen Cat just beat me to it.

Last edited 11 months ago by Emil Minty
UnseenCat
UnseenCat
11 months ago

It’s an updated Chrysler Crossfire. (Which was based on an M-B platform.)
Fight me. 😛

Duke of Kent
Duke of Kent
11 months ago

I like it, but I like most big comfortable coupes, so I’m not sure my endorsement means all that much. Still, it’s encouraging to see a new one on the market.

Dogisbadob
Dogisbadob
11 months ago

nice Accord

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
11 months ago

I imagine the MB sedan factories being like a digestive system. Parts get fed in one end and out the other comes a fully formed car that get one last squeeze of the anus to pinch it’s rear. Pinched poop factory…

Angrycat Meowmeow
Angrycat Meowmeow
11 months ago

It’s fine, but aside from the updated tech that comes with a recently developed platform, I don’t see any reason to choose this over an A7 unless you really just hate four-doors for some reason. Benz interiors of late aren’t the prettiest, either. There’s way too much shiny and way too much disco lighting. It’s hard to tell from the tiny pics, but I hope that grey shiny material is at least real carbon fiber or something.

SomeIntern
SomeIntern
11 months ago

People who want coupes want coupes

OnlyFlans
OnlyFlans
11 months ago

Mercedes has taken the crown from mid-2010’s Toyota when it comes to an over-styled front with an almost un-styled rear. I feel like Mercedes and Honda are in an arms race to see who can design the most uninteresting and ambiguous view from the rear.

Alexk98
Alexk98
11 months ago

While it looks great, the mega screen for infotainment seems to be pointed juuuuust right so that with the top down, it’ll be the full force of the sun directed straight into your corneas. At least this isn’t completely reliant on various states of tune of 2.0L turbo 4 like the entire C-Class range.

Timothy Arnold
Timothy Arnold
11 months ago

I like it overall but I’m not the target customer.
Pillarless coupes went extinct with more stringent side-impact regulations.

V10omous
V10omous
11 months ago

A new coupe in the year 2023??!! I’ll overlook a lot of flaws if we get more like this.

Vee
Vee
11 months ago

The car looks oddly proportioned. The main silhouette of the car angles forward, with the top half pushing well ahead of the bottom half. But then you get to that brick wall of a front end. It’s like the car has juuuuust started to impact a wall and the deformation hasn’t yet spread back through to the rest of the body. I fear the convertible may have it worse, what with the steeply raked windshield drawing more attention to contrast between the basalt slab front and the BMW Z8 style rear.

SkyRise
SkyRise
11 months ago
Reply to  Vee

Interesting. I feel like the front biased proportions echo some of the prettier ww2 era fighter aircraft, so I like it.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago

Ugh. It looks great from the front but the side view makes it look like a Q60. The rear quarter windows stick out like a sore thumb and the rear end view makes it look like one of their EVs, which are pretty ugly across the board. We’ve reached peak light bar! We don’t need any more. Thanks!

However I’m encouraged that:

1). They’re still offering a convertible

And

2). IT HAS A SIX CYLINDER OPTION!!!!

That’s the biggest, best news here….especially with the C43 getting that precariously overboosted 4 cylinder (200 German engineered horsepower per liter? NO THANK YOU!) and the godforsaken new C63 getting that plus ridiculously complicated PHEV/FoRmUlA 1 dErIvEd hybrid tech that will dispense 4 or 5 figure repairs like hot dogs on the 4th of July as soon as the warranty is up.

Why isn’t this engine in more things? It’s great. I was going to say “I’m excited to see the price” and then I realized that Mercedes is almost certainly putting one of their last good ICE engines behind a massive paywall. I’m sure it’ll be $80,000+ to get into one of these with that motor and at that point you’d be nuts not to go with the aforementioned LC500…

Last edited 11 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Alexk98
Alexk98
11 months ago

Even worse is the fact that, by all account, the new C63 E PeRfOrMaNcE is an absolutely abysmal car to drive due to it weighing more than many F-150s, and a suspension so overly stiff yet on a non-sporting chassis that it’ll rattle your teeth out on non-perfect roads. The fact that the “Sport” suspension is standard and not the comfort on these is worrying, but hopefully this is a true old school land yacht luxobarge that doesn’t pretend to be too sporty.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
11 months ago
Reply to  Alexk98

The Throttle House review of it was absolutely scathing

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