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Mercedes CLE 300 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus (2023 - )

The C-Class Coupe and larger E-Class Coupe have gone, but in their place we get the rather stunning CLE Coupe.

Starting price:
£59,745 (£60,670 with options)

Why we love it:
  • Beautifully refined motorway cruiser
  • Well equipped with upmarket interior
  • Deceptively agile on twisting lanes
Where it could be better:
  • It’s more expensive to buy than some competitors
  • Could do with a few more physical controls
  • Engine noise gets quite vocal at times

Introduction

Mercedes CLE 300 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus

We all love a bargain these days so when Mercedes announced two of its established models were being replaced by a single car, it had to be explored further. The cars in question are the C-Class Coupe and larger E-Class Coupe – they have gone, but in their place we get the rather stunning CLE Coupe.

It's a 2+2 styled car meaning there are two seats up front and two more in the back, but as with all cars of this sleek styling, these rear seats are only for occasional use and you need to be pretty nimble to access them.

There is the choice of trim levels which are called AMG Line, AMG Line Premium, AMG Line Premium Plus and Premier Edition with prices starting from £46,620 and customers can choose from petrol, diesel or mild hybrid engines.

We opted for the CLE 300 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus version for our test drive which also introduced all-wheel drive to the mix.

Mercedes CLE 300 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus

The Mercedes CLE is a drop dead gorgeous two-door coupe that will attract attention wherever it passes thanks to its sleek lines and dynamic styling.

Eye-catching design cues include striking 20-inch AMG alloy wheels, a black grille with silver pattern and silver bar through its centre housing the Mercedes emblem, sweeping light clusters, a panoramic sunroof, silver window trim and a rich Patagonia Red metallic paint finish that added £925 to the cost.

Moving inside, you are greeted by a modern, high-end cabin with black upholstered seats that, along with the steering wheel, are power adjustable. The main nerve centre is an 11.9-inch multi-media display screen where the plethora of on-board systems can be accessed. Creature comforts include a pitch perfect Burmester 3D surround sound system, full smartphone connectivity with wireless integration, sat nav and plenty more besides.

There is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display that can be personalised to taste, along with a clear head-up display where the vital driving data is shown, such as speed and navigational directions.

I would have liked to see a few more physical controls and the touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel are quite fiddly, but minimalism is the ‘in’ thing these days and there is always the excellent voice assistant that is summoned by saying ‘Hey Mercedes’. This can help with a number of tasks such as plotting a navigation route, opening the sunroof, adjusting the temperature, searching for a radio station and much more.

On The Road

Mercedes CLE 300 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus

Handling & Performance

Powering our CLE 300 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus test car was a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 258hp and 400Nm of torque. That translates into some pretty nifty performance figures with this 1.85-tonne coupe powering its way from 0-62mph in a very impressive 6.2 seconds and onto a top speed of 155mph.

There is a 48-volt mild-hybrid set-up that is self-charging under braking and this adds an extra 23hp to the mix and it works silently away in the background.

The acceleration through the ultra-smooth nine-speed automatic transmission is responsive and as sharp as you want it to be with paddles for added driver engagement, along with drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual that alter the dynamics and handling of the car quite considerably.

It will eat up the motorway miles for fun, cruising effortlessly at 70mph, but can also put in a shift when faced with twisting B roads where the grip is unfaltering and there is no sign of any body sway.

In busier town centres, the car does feel pretty large, especially when it comes to searching for a big enough bay to park, but it is agile and the steering is perfectly weighted to make light work of any twists and turns.

The test car also featured Mercedes’ excellent four-wheel drive system called 4MATIC which will automatically send extra grip to wheels as and when they should need it.

The cabin is generally well protected from any noise intrusion, although at higher speeds, you will notice extra engine sound. Other than that, the ride is exceptionally refined and special mention to the highly effective suspension system that smooths out all but the roughest of road surfaces along the way.

Mercedes CLE 300 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus

Space & Practicality

When viewed from any angle, the Mercedes CLE Coupe looks absolutely stunning stretching 4,850mm in length, 2,041mm wide (including mirrors), 1,422mm tall and with a wheelbase of 2,865mm.

The cabin is spacious up front where a couple of six-foot-plus adults can stretch out in the utmost comfort. There are plenty of storage options for the driver and front passenger too with a large split-level glovebox, deep central cubby, door bins with room for a bottle, wireless charging pad, front cup holders along with a number of USB-C ports.

The back seats tilt backwards and are great for children and there is enough space for an adult if the front passenger moves their seat forward, but getting in and out will test your agility to say the least.

The boot is accessed via a powered tailgate and can swallow 420 litres of kit, which is ample room for carrying golf clubs, and the rear seats can be folded forward if you need to transport longer items.

Our test model featured 4MATIC all-wheel drive and it could tow a braked trailer weighing up to 750kg or unbraked up to 1,800kg.

Ownership

Running Costs

The Mercedes CLE range is priced from £46,620 for the entry-level CLE 200 mild hybrid petrol model and rises to £72,820 for the range-topping CLE 450 4MATIC powered by a six-cylinder 3.0-litre mild hybrid petrol engine and offering 4WD.

Our test car, the CLE 300 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus, cost £59,745 although Patagonia Red metallic paint bumped the price up by an additional £925.

The day-to-day running costs will not make particularly great reading as the car has a WLTP-tested combined fuel economy figure of 39.2mpg with carbon emissions at 161g/km. 

That high CO2 figure would result in quite steep tax bills too with the first year Vehicle Excise Duty costing £680 which would be reduced down to the standard fee of £190 after 12 months.

And, as the Mercedes CLE costs in excess of £40,000, it is subject to a government premium car levy. This means owners will have to find a further £390 from years two to six.

Any business drivers considering the CLE for a company car will see a high Benefit in Kind rating too of 37 per cent, so no good news there either. However, the car would look rather special in the company car park if that’s any consolation.

Verdict

Mercedes CLE 300 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus

If you were ever in any doubt that two could become one, Mercedes has proved it is possible. Yes there will be people out there who will say it’s not like the outgoing C-Class or E-Class Coupe models, but we think they have found the perfect balance between the two.

We also like the fact that customers can still choose from a range of powertrains and that the trim line-up is relatively straightforward.

And with news of an open-top version on the horizon, along with a powerhouse model too, it’s exciting times at Mercedes. 

By Maxine Ashford
May 24, 2024

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