2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE 300 4Matic AMG Line Coupé C236
The new C236 Mercedes-Benz CLE ushers in the era of superb replacements for the coupe versions of the C-Class and E-Class.
It can seamlessly morph from cruiser to sports coupe, its automatic shiftssuperbly calibrated
While rationalizing a product range often carries negative connotations of compromising quality and cutting corners, this time it has yielded a remarkable result. As Mercedes-Benz focuses on streamlining its lineup by eliminating less popular models, the new C236 CLE coupe steps in for both the C-Class coupe and E-Class coupe. Furthermore, a CLE cabrio A236 will follow next year, replacing the convertible versions of the C- and E-Class.
In terms of dimensions, the CLE leans more towards the E-Class than the C-Class. Its wheelbase surpasses that of the C-Class by 25mm but falls short of the E-Class by just 8mm. Consequently, there is a 43mm reduction in rear legroom, with less headroom in the front and rear. However, compared to the previous C-Class, rear passengers do enjoy more space.
Initially, there are four models, all equipped with mild hybrid systems, and three of them feature 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines. The 48-volt mild-hybrid technology incorporates an electric motor that can assist the combustion engine when needed and recuperate energy during braking for later use. The lineup includes a diesel option, the 220d, two 2.0-liter petrol models, the 200 (available in rear- or all-wheel drive) and the 300 (all-wheel drive only), as well as a 450 4Matic with a 3.0-liter straight-six engine. AMG variants and a plug-in hybrid are also in the pipeline, although it's yet to be confirmed which versions will be available in the UK.
The diesel model, while not slow, can be noisy under heavy load. On the other end of the spectrum, the six-cylinder engine provides brisk acceleration, although it may not match the dynamic appeal of its rival, the BMW 440i, and it's less fuel-efficient. The sweet spot in the lineup appears to be the CLE 300 4Matic C236, which outpaces its siblings in acceleration and maintains impressive speeds. On winding roads, it transitions seamlessly from a comfortable cruiser to a sporty coupe. In Sport mode, it holds gears longer, maintaining high revs and expertly shifting between second, third, and fourth gears.
With ESP engaged, the torque distribution leans towards the rear, allowing the 4Matic system to regain control of the front, and the car offers even cornering grip, making it easy to unwind the steering and get back on the gas. The automatic transmission's shifts through the nine-speed gearbox are finely tuned, striking a balance that maintains a smooth driving experience. The chassis has been lowered by 15mm and features conventional suspension. An optional adaptive suspension and rear-wheel steering enhance the driving experience, but one drawback is the brakes, which exhibit a long pedal travel, delayed response, limited endurance, and require substantial effort. The braking system can be challenging to modulate linearly, possibly due to the mild-hybrid component.
The infotainment system is adopted from the latest C and E-Class saloons and functions seamlessly. Front seats are comfortable and luxurious, but the rear seats are somewhat cramped, providing little space for adult passengers. Despite the brake issue and the limitations of the rear seats, the CLE embodies the essence of a true Mercedes, from its foundation to its zenith, with an unmistakable emphasis on driving pleasure.
In summary, the CLE is a sleeker, more stylish E-Class coupe, delivering impressive handling and a range of powerful powertrains.
- Elegant new cabin design
- Solid build quality
- Balanced ride and handling
- Offers an engaging driving experience
- Brakes require improved performance and responsiveness
- Limited rear-seat space, not suitable for adults
- PRICE £55k (est, C236 CLE 300 4Matic)
- POWERTRAIN 1999cc 16v turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, MB nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
- MAX POWER 254bhp @ 5800rpm
- MAX TORQUE 295lb ft @ 2000rpm
- ACCLERATION 0-62mph/0-100km/h 6.2sec
- MAX SPEED 155mph
- ON SALE Late 2023
- WEIGHT 1900kg (est)
- EFFICIENCY 37-40mpg
- ECOLOGY Data CO2 159-173g/km
Where sporty meets techy meets luxury. Roofline looks dramatic, at the expense of rear passengers.