07 June 2024
Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe Review

The Mercedes-Benz CLE is the conceived solution after Mercedes realised that it was making too many cars that did the same job. And it is a rather splendid solution.

Mercedes-Benz, in a move to thin the herd, phased out the two-door variants of its mid-range saloons in favour of a single, more unified contender: the CLE.

It’s a tribute to consolidation, with two-door coupes being well-trodden ground for Mercedes. But, good looks can only take you so far. So how does the CLE fair against the competition?

Distinguished Gentleman

The Mercedes-Benz CLE sits just a tad longer than the old E Coupe, but brings the intimacy of a C-Class Coupe. It’s as if Mercedes took both models, shook them up in a cocktail shaker, and poured out the CLE Coupe.

Singapore only has one variant for now, and its the entry level CLE200. In English, that’s a 2.0-litre 4-pot nestled in the front, churning out 201bhp and 320Nm of torque. Not exactly within the realms of A, M, and G, but its more than adequate for spirited jaunts down the highway or a calm cruise through city streets.

It seems to usher in a younger audience, perhaps those who might have fancied the C-Class Coupe, aiming for a smooth and expansive driving experience rather than mimicking the more spirited, edge-of-your-seat feel of a BMW 4 Series.

This translates to a leisurely century sprint time of 7.4 seconds, punching the power to the 9-speed automatic transmission it’s mated to.

To give the car a little more oomph off the line, it even comes equipped with a 48-volt mild hybrid system. It regenerates energy during braking or coasting and provides a 23bhp boost when you need that extra dash of zip.

It also makes the car slightly more economical; our figures show an average of 12.9km/litre, which is rather decent considering we mixed it up with some spirited driving and dense city traffic. 

Driving the CLE Coupe is akin to wearing a finely tailored suit – it feels bespoke, refined, and designed with a purpose. You might not find the raw excitement of an Affalterbach-derived thoroughbred (that might come in the future), but what it offers in comfort, style, and efficiency more than makes up for it.

So, if you’re caught in a dilemma between a sporty number and a practical ride, the Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe offers a potential golden middle path.

Damn It Looks Sophisticated

Indeed. Mercedes-Benz CLE is a true embodiment of understated elegance, stepping away from the bustling trend of overly aggressive design cues that we often see from its competitors. One could liken its exterior to a beautifully smoothed pebble.

It’s a visual treat, refreshingly devoid of unnecessary embellishments. Observers will no doubt appreciate the absence of the controversial stylings of some rivals like the 4 Series.

As you swing open the pillarless doors, you might pause, considering the sheer size of these doors. They’re quite the spectacle, but exiting the CLE Coupe can feel like a small adventure in itself, given the distance one must navigate from the deep-set seats to the outer world.

From the rear three-quarter view, the CLE’s elongated back end enhances its stately demeanour, emphasised further by a horizontal bar connecting the rear light clusters. A bar that, intriguingly, doesn’t light up. This design choice makes the car appear wider and more grounded.

Does The Interior Hold Up As Well?

Stepping into the Mercedes-Benz CLE feels like a familiar embrace from the C-Class, yet it gives hints of the E-Class. But, not everything shines as brightly as it should; some of the cabin features might leave a seasoned Merc customer disappointed, especially when you’re parting with over S$300 big ones.

For the most part, the cabin materials certainly feel less prone to the creaks and groans of its predecessors. But, the mirror adjustment buttons and touch-sensitive seat controls feel a bit more “cost-saving” than “luxury”. Plus, the touch-sensitive spokes on the steering wheel can be quite a chore to operate.

Mercedes insists that once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. But, must it really be this overly complicated? I cannot count the number of times I tried to skip a song, but instead changed the UI to a completely different sub-menu.

The central 14.9-inch touchscreen is slightly better to operate. Set against a panel of matte wood trim, it gives the cockpit a modern vibe. Wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto come standard, and you can chuck your smartphone into the recessed wireless charging pad once its all hooked up. Good luck trying to get it back out though.

The CLE does boast ample space in the rear seats, a marked improvement over the old C-Class Coupe. Though, if you’re tall, your head is going to be bobbing into that sloping roofline.

It’s a car that perhaps subtly suggests that the rear seats are better suited for the occasional use rather than a regular commute, and more ideal for stowing those seldom-used tote bags or a couple of decorative cushions.

While it does have a narrow aperture, the boot is rather deep, and spacious enough at 420 litres, just shy of the BMW 4 Series. Enough capacity for a golf bag or weekend shopping.

A Great Package, But Needs Some Ironing Out

The Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe is as pleasant to behold as it is to drive. But, some of its modern technology features do get in the way. You might grow accustomed to these quirks over time; adaptability is part of the human condition.

But, one can’t help but reminisce about the days when stepping into a Mercedes felt instantly right. No second-guessing, just unadulterated automotive perfection from the get-go.

Here’s hoping that Mercedes might consider the addition of a few well-placed physical buttons in a future facelift to reclaim some of that old-school user-friendliness. This could elevate the CLE from being merely fine to truly fantastic.

Technical Specifications

Mercedes-Benz CLE200 Coupe

Engine: 1,999cc in-line 4 turbocharged, Turbocharged
Drivetrain: Rear-Wheel Drive
Power: 150kw (201bhp)
Torque: 320Nm
Gearbox: 9-speed G-Tronic (A)
0-100km/h: 7.4 seconds (claimed)
Top Speed: 240km/h
Fuel Economy: 14.1km/L (claimed)

Price: S$344,888 (Avantgarde), S$370,888 (AMG Line), both with COE (accurate at the time of this article)
Contact: Mercedes-Benz Singapore

Photo Credits: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)

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