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Mercedes-Benz CLE review

2023 onwards (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 54.0
” Sleek coupe is comfortable and good to drive “

At a glance

Price new £46,305 - £71,680
Road tax cost £570
Insurance group 35 - 43
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Fuel economy 36.2 - 60.1 mpg
Miles per pound 5.3 - 7.7
View full specs for a specific version

Available fuel types



Pros & cons

  • Good looks
  • Practical rear seats for a coupe
  • Available with straight-six petrol
  • Not a performance car (until AMG models arrive)
  • Interior build quality
  • Not very exciting

Written by Tom Wiltshire Published: 13 September 2023 Updated: 13 September 2023


Mercedes has a history of making desirable, luxurious coupes. The new CLE the latest in this line. It’s a new model range, and is intended to replace both the C-Class and the E-Class coupes as Mercedes rationalises the huge number of models it offers.

The resulting coupe is the same width but slightly longer than the E-Class coupe it replaces, with Mercedes’ latest interior as seen on the C-Class. Engine-wise, it more closely mirrors the E-Class, with UK cars getting everything from a diesel, to a plug-in hybrid, to a range-topping six-cylinder petrol. Expect AMG-tuned performance models to arrive later.

The CLE joins a shrinking coupe class with few rivals. It’s carefully positioned between many of its rivals. It’s bigger and plusher than a BMW 4 Series, for example, but undercuts the 8 Series. A CLE convertible will also follow to rival the likes of the Audi A5 Cabriolet.

What’s it like inside?

The CLE feels very much like the C-Class inside. The dashboard is dominated by an 11.9-inch, portrait infotainment touchscreen which controls all the major functions, including the temperature. Behind the wheel sits a 12.3-inch driver information display.

Mercedes CLE - interior
Materials are a nice quality, but the dashboard does have a lot of creaks.

The controls are a mixed bag. Mercedes is really leaning into touch-sensitive buttons, so the steering wheel has tons of them split across unusual double-decker spokes. Even the seat controls – handily located on the door – aren’t real switches, and are instead pressure-sensitive.

These awkward and finicky controls are balanced out by an excellent touchscreen interface which makes most of the functions easily accessible and uses onscreen buttons that are large enough to hit on the move.

The front seats are large, comfortable, and highly adjustable – there’s space for even the tallest driver to stretch out. You get a little butler to hand you your seatbelt, though it’s sad that despite the frameless doors, this isn’t a true ‘pillarless’ coupe in classic Mercedes fashion.

Space in the rear seats is surprisingly good for a coupe. Though headroom for adults is limited, there’s loads of legroom and a six-footer could sit behind a similarly lofty driver. The 420-litre boot is great, too – there’s easily room for two or three big suitcases, or the inevitable golf clubs. You get a ski hatch, too.

Mercedes-Benz CLE engines

The UK engine range will consist of five choices, a surprisingly wide range given most of the CLE’s rivals only offer one or two engine options. All offer Mercedes’ EQ Boost mild hybrid tech, boosting economy and performance. It’ll kick off with the CLE 200, a four-cylinder petrol engine with 204hp and 320Nm of torque – the CLE 300 is the same engine with a beefier 258hp and 400Nm.

The range-topping petrol is the CLE 450. This is a 3.0-litre straight-six engine with 381hp and 500Nm of torque, making for snappy performance – 0-62mph takes just 4.4 seconds and the top speed is an electronically-limited 155mph.

Mercedes-Benz CLE - rear tracking
The diesel is an economical choice, but the 450 petrol is the most exciting.

Fuel economy misers will have two options to select from. The CLE 220 d is a 2.0-litre, four cylinder diesel that’s also the slowest model in the range – its 200hp and 440Nm of torque is good for 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds. However, it’s also claimed to manage up to 60mpg and emit just 123g/km of CO2, making it rather cost-effective.

A 300 e plug-in hybrid will also come along later. Details aren’t finalised yet, but we’d expect it to be the same 300 e powertrain as you get in the C-Class – with over 60 miles of electric range, 300+bhp and the potential for super-low running costs if it’s charged up frequently.

What’s it like to drive?

The CLE’s main buzzword is ‘relaxing’. Setting off, the mild hybrid systems do a good job of filling in any power gap to provide a smooth, non-jerky takeoff from a standstill. The nine-speed automatic gearbox common to every model slushes gears together nicely, and at a cruise all of the engines are very quiet.

Wind noise is minimal, helped by that slinky body, and road noise is well-contained too. Add in the big, supportive front seats and we can see the CLE being a very accomplished mile-muncher.

We drove the 300 and 450 petrol engines. The former is certainly powerful enough, but sounds gruff and when revved out it almost sounds strained. We much preferred the buttery-smooth six-cylinder 450, which is even more endowed with pace.

Mercedes-Benz CLE - front tracking
The CLE is a relaxing car to drive.

We also found the 450 to be slightly less floaty on the motorway. No CLE is particularly firm, though the suspension does tighten up significantly when you flick it into Sport mode. In Comfort, it does an effective job of ironing out most imperfections, though does have a bit of a jitter over poor surfaces. The CLEs we drove were fitted with Mercedes’ Dynamic Ride Control adaptive dampers, giving you a choice between Comfort and Sport modes – Comfort won for us every time.

The CLE doesn’t really encourage boisterous cornering. The steering is light and reasonably precise, but there’s not much feedback and the chassis is very neutral. While it’s perfectly capable of carrying a lot of speed into the corners, we reckon it’s better to take a more chilled-out approach and enjoy the CLE as a boulevard cruiser.

Our cars also featured four-wheel steering. This tightens the turning circle at low speeds and improves stability when cruising. It’s as good here as it is in other Mercedes models that feature it – but we’re not sure yet if it’ll be available in the UK.

What else should I know?

We’d expect AMG versions of the CLE to follow before too long. 43, 53 and 63 variants could all be on the cards, powered by six-cylinder or V8 engines with huge power upgrades, sporty visual makeovers and plenty of uprated components under the skin.

Expect trim levels to be universally well-equipped – we’d expect the range to kick off with some permutation of ‘AMG Line’ and continued upwards. Pricing is likely to be around the £50,000 mark.

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