Mercedes-Benz CLE 450 Cabriolet 2024 review: six-cylinder cab with old-school charm

Mercedes-Benz CLE 450 Cabriolet 2024 review: six-cylinder cab with old-school charm

The beginning of CLE

The convertible market shrinks every year to make room for plug-in cars… that people don’t really buy. There was a time when four-seat convertibles had to be part of a manufacturer’s range. Audi (A4 and A5), BMW (3 and 4 series), Ford (Focus CC), Peugeot (307 CC), Volkswagen (Eos), Opel (Cascada) and even Volvo (C70) all joined the party with four seats. . which are converted according to the most common bases. Mercedes-Benz had two: the C and E class convertibles, today it has only one: the CLE.

Like the coupe of the same name, it is a combination of the current C and E classes, the former providing the interior and rear, the latter the front and center, which, surprisingly, did not spawn Frankenstien. – kind of monster. Sleek and well-planned rather than flamboyant and attractive, the CLE convertible will appeal to those looking to replace their Jaguar XK convertible as well as those who don’t like its only modern rival, BMW’s 4 Series convertible.


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Four engines are offered, including three four-cylinders (the 300 and 200 petrol-powered and the 220d Diesel-powered!). All varieties in the series are smooth hybrids. At the top of the range is currently the 450 with a 3-litre six-cylinder engine which, like the 300, is only available with Mercedes’ 4Matic+ all-wheel drive. The 200 petrol and 220 diesel are rear-wheel drive and both are offered only with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

300 and 258 hp (+23 hp hybrid) is certainly cheaper (167 g/km CO2 and 77,900 euros) but its engine lacks the smoothness and refinement that this type of Benz deserves. As for the 200, it lacks punch, and the diesel looks straight out of the last century.

450 in the exam

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That’s why we raced the 450 to see if its six-cylinder offered the smoothness and engine room that the 300 lacked. Fortunately, it did. His calm voice is well balanced to give a little aural excitement. This smooth and quiet six-cylinder at idle gets even better at higher revs, just to let you know it’s happy to be pushed.

If you don’t want to change gears yourself, the upshifts are quick and smooth, with downshifts when braking are done at the last minute, not when you’d plan to do this if you chose to use a pallet. In Comfort mode, the throttle response is a bit sluggish and tends to crush the shock even more by not pushing harder. Switching to Sport mode allows you to improve this response, but the 450 never turns into a sports car that wants to throw itself into the next brake. Switching to Sport+ mode is a little less responsive in terms of engine response, it’s only slightly active above the rev counter where it hits the limit quicker.

If you use the paddles, this allows you to use the maximum power of the straight-six and make good use of the turbo torque, especially in slow corners where the automatic transmission is reduced to the second when it would be better to put the third to ensure a smooth and strong exit from for the curve. With 2080 kg declared standard, reaching its top speed of 250 km / h takes time. In fact, the 450 feels best when used at three-quarters of its capacity. This may seem disappointing, but this type of car is not about chasing lap times and winning drag races.

The CLE converter has a calm and quiet nature, it does what it was designed to do.

With the roof down and your head slowly turning red in the early summer sun, the CLE is a delightful way to travel. It’s an outdated experience, one that many have abandoned to focus on performance at all costs, without worrying about whether that’s what customers want from a car. The convertible CLE likes quietness and calmness, it does what it was designed to do.

At the wheel, you feel little (or no) body vibration and body support is firm when you stress the chassis. The steering is open and, although you don’t get any feel when you push, it’s very easy to engage it in turns with precision. It’s the kind of car that requires you to enter a series of turns in slow motion, it’s not designed to be thrown into a rope so you can use the accelerator and steering wheel to stay on course. It is too heavy for this and therefore becomes inaccurate and meaningless.

If you consider sliding, it is clear that it is not a question because it is not the type of car for that, and the only tire noise you will get will be that which is accompanied by heavy understeer. Which may lead some of you to wonder why give it four-wheel drive if it doesn’t need taming. The answer is simple: The largest market for the CLE – coupe and convertible – will be North America, and the snow states insist on having a four-wheel drive.


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Mercedes has invested heavily in the CLE convertible’s aerodynamics when its 20-row convertible top is folded. A traditional removable wind screen is placed behind the front seats, but the engineers have also created a deflector system that can be deployed with a switch on the center console. It uses a windshield spoiler as well as a net between the headrests of the rear seats. This deflects the airflow over the car, reducing turbulence around the windows, while the small mesh eliminates backflow of air from the rear.

But there is a problem because in normal times (ie without the system), the CLE cabin is already quiet and pleasant, the turbulence and raised windows are practically eliminated. With these deflectors in place, all that seems to happen is increased wind noise from the top of the windshield. The benefit will definitely be felt in cold weather, but below 30 degrees it seems worse.

Internal affairs

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The interior is taken from the C-class, so we get a large central screen with a lot of controls that would be easier to use if they were normal switches and buttons. Below we find the haptic controls for changing the driving modes (Economy, Comfort, Sport and Individual), the volume button and access to the assistance system, making it very easy to switch off.