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Car Review

Mercedes-Benz CLE Cabriolet review

£52,305 - £75,680
810
Published: 18 Apr 2024
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Interior

What is it like on the inside?

Compared to the old C-Class, the CLE has another 25mm in its wheelbase. Which means 14mm more legroom, 22mm more shoulder room and 17mm more elbow room on paper. In real life, that translates to adults (or taller offspring) enjoying a much less acute angle for their knees and thus a much friendlier seating position. Though it’s important to note they’ll need to be below six foot (or 1.8m) to sit in the back when the roof is closed, else they might feel like a jack-in-the-box crammed and ready to pop dramatically free. With the roof down it’s fair to assume anyone above six foot will present an unsophisticated windbreak anyway. But for those of us smaller it’s a relatively comfy place to be.

The boot should allow for decent trips away, too. It matches the old E-Class cabrio for luggage space, boasting 385 litres (about the same as a Golf) with the roof up. This drops to 295 litres once the roof is down, and thankfully the car electronically sub-divides the space itself; no parking up and toddling round to pull out a protective divider yourself. The rear seats split and fold in a 60:40 ratio too to further boost practicality.

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What about the tech?

Perhaps less convincing is the fancy Aircap system. Mercedes has put in the hard yards fine-tuning its aero in a wind tunnel, but it still ups the car’s drag coefficient by around 10 per cent and turns an impressively quiet cabin into one with a definite audible draft. It’s designed for use between 30mph and 80mph, but it feels best reserved for higher speeds when the air turbulence from driving roof down becomes really pronounced.

Maybe colder UK temperatures than the CLE’s baking Tenerife launch will reveal a more obvious use case; perhaps it’s simply a sign of how refined the car is in the first place that the system feels a slight gimmick. There’s no doubting the car looks much less svelte with its two protrusions in place, too. If you’re buying this car to pose, best keep the system deactivated.

Everything else – materials, trim, stitching, screens – is high quality. Sure, there’s probably a few too many functions bundled into the touchscreen, but few cars can claim innocence there outside of the world of Caterham and Morgan. Who don’t fit touchscreens. The fact you can tilt the screen to avoid sun glare at least shows Merc’s engineers have considered the useability of such hefty digitalisation.

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