‘The coupes are always the beauty queens,” says Mercedes-Benz’s design chief Gorden Wagener, referring to the new CLE, due to reach Australia next year.
Wagener says the CLE – and future Mercedes-Benz designs – will stand out in the “sea of sameness” in new-car showrooms.
It will be produced in both coupe and cabriolet forms and has some big shoes to fill. It’s been designed to replace the closed and open versions of the current C-Class and E-Class – as well as the discontinued S-Class – in the Mercedes-Benz range.
The CLE Coupe will stand out from the crowd according to Mercedes.
These range in size from compact to large. The CLE is closest to the middle-size E-Class.
It’s very slightly longer, while width and height are practically identical.
Production of the CLE Coupe will begin in November, with the Cabriolet scheduled to follow next year.
Mercedes-Benz Australia plans to launch both versions at the same time, some time in the middle of next year. By that time a high-performance AMG-engineered CLE will also be in production. It, too, is planned for Australian release.
Initially, the CLE Coupe will be produced with three mild-hybrid turbocharged petrol engines. Two are 2.0-litre fours, but with different maximum power outputs, the third a 3.0-litre six. The company has said a plug-in hybrid version is also planned for future production, as well as a turbo diesel.
AMG is working on a version of the CLE.
The only variant presently confirmed for the Australian market is the CLE 300 with the high power 190kW petrol-burning four. This was the version driven at the car’s international press launch in the north of Spain.
With its long nose and strong shoulders, the big and shapely coupe turned heads on the streets of San Sebastian, an up-market seaside city that’s attracted wealthy holiday makers from all over Europe for decades.
It’s cabin is top notch.
Blending old-fashioned opulence and up-to-date technology, the interior of the CLE Coupe is a richly luxurious environment. Comfortable, too, at least for those in the front seats. While the pair of rear seats look lovely, space is tight back there for large adults.
The CLE 300 tested in Spain was equipped with Mercedes-Benz’s Dynamic Body Control continuously variable shock absorbers. In C for comfort setting the suspension airily isolates occupants from road bumps like a large limousine. In prioritising plushness, it can sometimes feel too much like a bobbing boat.
S for sport provides a degree of control that’s closer to all-round ideal. The way it steers and corners in this mode is a better match for the CLE’s long, low and suavely sporty look.
The four-cylinder engine feels out of place in the CLE.
The performance of the CLE 300 fits the image well. The 48-volt integrated starter-generator adds a healthy 17kW electric boost to the bottom end of the turbo four’s rev range, while the nine-speed automatic changes gear almost imperceptibly.
Driven sedately, this engine and transmission combination is as smoothly refined as the CLE 300’s design. It’s less impressive when the accelerator pedal is pressed closer to the carpet.
The noise from under the dual-power-bulge bonnet is clearly that of a four-cylinder engine that’s being asked to work hard, and sounds out of place in something with the CLE 300’s high-class aspirations.
Even so, the CLE 300 is likely to mostly satisfy those enchanted by its appearance. Those who desire a driving experience that’s more melodic and muscular should wait to see what improvements AMG’s engineers make to the CLE.
MERCEDES-BENZ CLE 300 4-matic
PRICE: $150,000 (est)
SAFETY: Not yet rated
ENGINE: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 190kW/463Nm
PACE: 0-100KM/H 6.2 secs
Source : News.com.au