What happens you combine the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and E-Class convertibles? You get the CLE, of course.
Global reports indicate Mercedes-Benz is trimming some of its lower-volume models, including the C-Class and E-Class convertibles.
Rather than abandoning its BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 rivals entirely, the reports say the distinct convertible lines will be replaced by the CLE pictured here. It’ll reportedly initially be available only as a two-door convertible, with a two-door coupe set to follow.
The car is still heavily camouflaged, but it looks like the CLE will have a slightly different lighting signature to the latest C-Class – perhaps borrowing from the Mercedes-AMG SL, or the CLS four-door coupe.
As is becoming common in the luxury convertible class, and following in the footsteps of the current C-Class and E-Class drop-tops, the car looks likely to use a folding soft-top instead of the once-popular hardtop.
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.
Whether the range will include the upcoming AMG C63’s high-performance hybrid four-cylinder powertrain isn’t clear.
Mercedes-Benz research and development head, Marcus 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, 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.
Mercedes-AMG is developing the next-generation Mercedes-Benz SL and Mercedes-AMG GT alongside each other, with the latter expected to lose its droptop body style to make way for the reborn SL.
Merging the two-door C-Class and E-Class ranges is reminiscent of the days of the CLK (above).
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.