Mercedes-Benz’s new mid-sized coupe and convertible range is getting closer to being revealed, with prototypes wearing less and less camouflage.
The Mercedes-Benz CLE, as it may be called, will reportedly replace the outgoing coupe and convertible models in the C-Class and E-Class ranges.
Set to also offer higher-performance Mercedes-AMG variants, the CLE will allow Mercedes-Benz to still field a rival to the BMW 4 Series and M4 and the Audi A5, S5 and RS5.
Design-wise, the new model retains the company’s signature soft, rounded look, although there’s also a resemblance to the sharper Mercedes-AMG SL.
Our photographers have now spied almost the entire range, including coupe and convertible body styles and plug-in hybrid and AMG 43 and 63 variants.
It’s likely the CLE will use the new MRA-2 architecture and feature a range of electrified four-cylinder powertrains, as with the redesigned C-Class.
At the top of the range will likely be a CLE 63 AMG, with the high-performance plug-in hybrid all-wheel drive set-up from the AMG C63.
This model uses a re-engineered version of the AMG A45’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with total system outputs of 500kW and 750Nm.
Slotting below the C63 is the C43, featuring a version of the mild-hybrid turbo four-cylinder engine used in the SL 43 convertible and producing outputs of 300kW and 500Nm.
There will be more affordable, less powerful versions below these AMG-fettled models, naturally.
One likely option is the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder mild-hybrid powertrain of the C300, which produces 190kW and 400Nm.
Previous spy photos have revealed the interior features a similar triple vent design to the C-Class, and we expect a similarly large portrait-style touchscreen infotainment system and free-standing digital instrument cluster to that model.
Mercedes-Benz research and development head, Markus Schafer, told Auto Express it effectively had three convertibles – the SLC and C-Class and E-Class Cabriolets – occupying a part of the market that isn’t particularly profitable.
He conceded, however, that it’s important for a luxury car brand to continue to offer coupe and convertible models.
As Mercedes-Benz expands its range of electric vehicles to include models like the EQE and EQS built on a dedicated EV architecture, it’s cognisant its model range can’t get too large and unwieldy.
The low-volume SLC has already been axed and no coupe or convertible versions of the redesigned Mercedes-Benz S-Class have been announced.
Merging the two-door C-Class and E-Class ranges is reminiscent of the days of the CLK.
Sold for two generations from 1997 to 2010, the CLK used the C-Class’s platform but with E-Class styling cues, and was available with a range of engines ranging from four to eight-cylinder configurations.
It was replaced by the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet, which continued to use C-Class mechanicals but was quickly joined by a C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet.
In 2017, Mercedes-Benz finally returned an E-Class-based coupe and convertible to the E-Class line, while the C-Class range continued to offer two-door variants.