Mercedes’ says the drop-top version of the CLE has its own special character distinct from the coupe.
The CLE is the latest two-door model from Mercedes, designed to replace both the coupe and convertible versions of the old C-Class and E-Class – the hard-top CLE Coupe came first, and now it’s the turn of the soft-top Mercedes CLE Cabriolet.
We do mean ‘soft-top’ as well because, just like the newly-facelifted BMW 4 Series Convertible and the recently canned Audi A5 Cabriolet, the CLE Cabriolet comes with a fabric roof rather than a folding metal arrangement.
Mercedes says the fabric roof is available in black, red, or grey with a “multi-layer structure” to provide insulation and keep wind and road noise at bay. The electrically-operated roof can open and close within 20 seconds (two seconds slower than the one on the BMW 4 Series), although it can be operated at speeds up to 37 km/h (6 km/h more than on the BMW).
Mercedes also says the CLE Cabriolet offers “open-air fun any time of year”. The optional leather seats (available in black, beige and black, brown and black, red and black or white and black) have a “special coating” to reflect the sun’s rays and remain cooler than standard leather seats. The CLE Cabriolet gets the Mercedes ‘Airscarf’ heating system as standard, too. The ‘Airscarf’ was first introduced on the 2004 SLK and sends warm air around the necks of the front seat occupants. In the CLE Cabriolet, it works in conjunction with the ‘Aircap’ wind deflector.
The dash is the same as the Coupe’s with a 12.3-inch driver’s display and an 11.9-inch central touchscreen. Unlike in the CLE Coupe, the central screen can be tilted from 15 to 40 degrees to avoid glare from the sun.
Compared to the old C-Class Cabriolet, the new CLE soft-top has an extra 72 mm of knee room and 19 mm more elbow room for rear passengers. Boot space is 100 liters more than in the old C-Class Cabriolet and matches the old E-Class Cabriolet at 385 liters (295 liters with the roof down).
The engine lineup of models mirrors the choice in the Coupe, with a hot AMG 53 and range-topping 63 variants expected later this year. For now, there’s a single diesel – the CLE Cabriolet 220 d with 145kW and two petrol offerings with 150kW (one with rear-wheel drive and one with 4MATIC all-wheel drive. There’s also CLE 300 4MATIC with a 190kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and the CLE 450 4MATIC with a 225kW 3.0-liter six-cylinder that packs 280kW.
Comfort suspension is standard on the CLE Cabriolet, and this is said by Mercedes to “combine a supremely comfortable ride with responsive, sporty handling.” Sports suspension with adaptive damping is offered as an option.