The 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe is a Middle Ground

The 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe is a Middle Ground

With the E-class car coming out in 2024, it becomes clear that the CLE coupe will replace the C-class and E-class coupes.

You can’t tell much about where things are going by looking in the rearview mirror. When trying to understand the 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe, it’s easy to fall into this trap if you keep thinking about the C- and E-class coupes that are being replaced. The new one doesn’t seem to be different until you understand that the C- and E-class sedans that gave rise to the coupes that came before it are no longer important. They are both from 2017.

Since then, the C-class has been rebuilt and gotten bigger. It is now in its fifth generation, which starts in 2022. The deal didn’t include a new coupe, so the two-door kept its fourth-generation mechanicals. The old E-class sedan stayed on the market until it was recently reported that the E-class will be redesigned for 2024. Again, you can’t have a car. With these changes in mind, the appearance of the 2024 CLE helps to explain a lot of the behind-the-scenes moving around.

The CLE and the new C-class car have the same 112.8-inch wheelbase. It’s an inch longer than the current C-class coupe, but it’s nowhere near as big as the E-class, which will have a wheelbase of 116.6 inches. The CLE is 191.0 inches long, which is about halfway between the E-class and the S-class. Its width is 73.2 inches, which is a bit closer to the E-class. In short, the CLE is a good “tweener” car because of its size, but it runs on the shorter C-class’s wheelbase, which is better for a coupe.

Fans of the E-class coupe, which doesn’t have a door pillar, will be disappointed to learn that the CLE has one, just like the C-class coupe. But this doesn’t change the way it looks because its sides are smooth and flowing, and its fenders have small creases that make the body look even longer. In fact, the “cab backward” nickname for the fifth-generation C-class car is even more obvious here because the CLE’s longer body makes the hood look much longer. Overall, the proportions remind me of the AMG GT car, even though the CLE has nothing in common with that high-performance two-seater.

Instead, the underpinnings are the same as the C-class, with front and back suspensions that are made up of a number of links. This gave the CLE stability and poise on the winding roads along the coast of northern Spain. Unfortunately, the similarities with the C-class don’t end there. It also had the same driving-simulator turning and brake feel that we didn’t like in the C300 when we tested it on the road. There is a lot of accuracy and predictability, but the driver input loop isn’t as good as it could be.

We’d like to say that when the 20-inch Continental tires hit rough roads, the suspension smoothed it out and took the edge off, but we can’t. It did that perfectly, but the cars we tried had a calibration for Europe with adjustable dampers and rear-wheel steering that we won’t get. In the US, the base version of the CLE300 will have passive dampers, while the sport suspension on the CLE450 will include position-sensitive passive dampers. Theoretically, when you’re going straight, these should ride smoother than that sounds because they’ll have less damping when the shocks are close to mid-stroke. Only time will tell.

The base CLE300 has the same improved 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that was first seen in the 2022 C300. It has 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, which is 22 pound-feet more than the old C300. The CLE450 has a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine that makes 375 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Both engines have an integrated starter-generator (ISG), which lets the 48-volt hybrid system add up to 23 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque at the right time. The ISG doesn’t increase the total power of either engine, but it does hide turbo lag and make it almost impossible to tell when the engine starts and stops.

Both engines don’t sound very exciting, but the 450’s inline-six motor moves the car without any trouble. Mercedes hasn’t said how much the CLE will weigh or how fast it will go, but our test of a 2022 C300 gives us an idea. We don’t think the CLE300 will take more than a tenth of a second longer than the 4044-pound C300 to go from 0 to 60 mph. We think that the CLE450 will be a second faster. Mercedes says that the top speed for both will be 130 mph.

Downstream, you don’t have a choice. Each engine is paired with Benz’s nine-speed automatic transmission, and power goes from there to the standard 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. In the past, Mercedes has offered coupes with rear-wheel drive, but the company isn’t ready to say if they’ll come back. They also won’t confirm or reject if there will be more AMG-branded cars, but it seems likely that there will be. All you have to do is look at what AMG already has for C-sedans to see where this is going.

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