Picturing a mid-sized Mercedes luxury coupé like the new Mercedes-Benz CLE may not feel like an especially modern thing to do - but, without putting your mind to it, you’ll likely come up with plenty of options. A bluff but lovely 1980s ‘W123’ SE-Class, perhaps; a marginally curvier 1990s ‘W124’; or even a popular noughties-era CLK Kompressor.
Over the decades, Mercedes has spoilt us for choice with these extra-desirable two-door GT cruisers. And yet, rather sadly, it can no longer afford to. A consolidation process of the company’s combustion-engined offerings has been creeping quietly forwards for a while now, as Mercedes finds the R&D cash it needs for its electrified models by cutting others. It robbed us of a replacement for the pretty ‘C217’ S-Class Coupé as long ago as 2020, and it has now cut the firm’s smaller coupé and cabriolet model by half.
So instead of individual replacements for both C- and E-Class two-doors, we get this new CLE. Based on the same model platform as both the C- and E-Class families, it’s intended to answer the desire of owners of the last-generation C-Class Coupé for a more spacious cabin, as well as that of owners of the outgoing E-Class Coupé for a slightly sportier and more engaging drive.