New Mercedes CLE convertible spotted ahead of 2023 release

The new Mercedes CLE will replace both C-Class and E-Class convertibles

We’ve spied the Mercedes CLE testing before, but these new images show the BMW 4 Series convertible rival isn’t too far away. 

A mid-size convertible Mercedes destined to replace convertible variants of the C-Class and E-Class, Auto Express understands the new model will be badged CLE - a nameplate the German brand has owned for a while but recently renewed its trademark for.

Mercedes has preferred the use of a fabric roof in its convertibles of late and the CLE will adhere to this design. The test car we’ve spotted sits on 15-spoke alloys and features a dual exit exhaust system, suggesting it could be the AMG 43 version. 

At the front, we can see a similar headlight design to the latest C-Class and the grilles are also likely to mimic that car’s as well. Unsurprisingly, there’s a blanked off section in the grille where a three-pointed star will sit. 

At the rear, we can see two air ducts behind the rear wheels, a common design trait on current Mercedes models. Unlike the C-Class and E-Class, the rear number plate sits on the rear bumper rather than the bootlid. 

The Mercedes portfolio has reached a high of 50 vehicles in 2020 and brand executives have spoken in the past of a need to reduce complexity, especially with the rollout of the all-electric EQ range. 

Speaking earlier in the year, Mercedes research and development boss Marcus Schafer pointed to the brand’s convertible offerings as being “high density”, with the recently axed SLC, C-Class Cabriolet and E-Class Cabriolet all vying for space in a market that isn’t a big money maker. 

However, Schafer admitted that from a branding perspective the coupé and cabriolet models are important; for a premium car company such as Mercedes, being in this space lays down an important marker.

“We want to focus on these models,” he explained. “They have their niche and their purpose. That’s why we are going to tailor exactly the right vehicle in this segment. There’s more to come on the coupé and cabriolet side in this mid-segment but it’s going to take a little bit more time before we can speak about it.”

Before the new CLE arrives in 2023, the brand will reinvent the full-size SL as a sportier and more purposeful offering using a new platform developed by AMG. 

Technical details are unknown at this stage, and an unveiling of the CLE is some way off – there’s still the new SL to come first, later in 2021. However, the CLE is likely to be based on the same MRA-2 platform as the new C-Class and S-Class, rather than the SL’s new AMG-designed architecture. The flexibility of MRA-2 means that four and six-cylinder power is possible, appealing to the CLE’s likely buyer. 

The latest C-Class is a four-cylinder only affair and much of the CLE line-up will be too. The next C 63 model is anticipated to take on a new high-performance four-cylinder hybrid engine derived from the M139 2.0-litre turbo engine used in the A 45 superhatch. The larger S-Class, also on the MRA-2 platform, could lend a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six with 48-volt mild hybrid assistance, if Mercedes thinks a six-cylinder option will be necessary. 

While the car spied here is a four-seat convertible, Auto Express expects there will also be a fixed-roof coupé version of the CLE, though the model line-up is likely to be capped at just two, with no plans for a new mid-size four-door coupé to sit between the CLA and the CLS

Check out the best convertibles to buy now…

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