Mercedes-Benz has discontinued both the E-Class and C-Class two-door offerings, and in their place is this, the all-new 2024 CLE, available as a coupe and convertible. Offered exclusively with mild-hybrid powertrains, there’s no hope of a V8, even when the inevitable AMG variants arrive. That’s a pity, but what else has changed? Is this just a bigger C-Class? Is this a discount E-Class? In a way, it’s both, and that means that you get more tech than you would have in the C-Class Coupe and a sportier attitude than in an E-Class Coupe. That’s the idea, anyway. Let’s take a look at the standout features of the new CLE to see if it achieves that brief.
Plenty Of Space
It seems obvious, but one of the biggest drawing cards of the new CLE is how much room it offers in what appears to be a compact and sporty design. The CLE is now the largest coupe in the midsize segment, and compared to the old C-Class Coupe, it provides more rear headroom (up by 0.4 inches), more shoulder and elbow room (+0.75 inches), and more knee room (+2.8 inches). In addition, with a 14.8 cubic-foot trunk, it offers 2.1 cubic feet more than a C-Class Coupe and just 0.2 ft3 less than the E-Class Coupe. As a result, you can fit three golf bags in the trunk with ease, and because of the svelte design, the increased footprint is visually imperceptible alongside a C-Class.
A True Surround-Sound Experience
The 2024 CLE includes speakers integrated into the front seats, with these sited near each of your ears. This is as part of the available Burmester 3D surround sound system, which includes a total of 17 speakers. Two bass speakers reside in the front footwells, while each door up front and each side panel at the rear adds a midrange speaker. Each door and rear side wall has a tweeter, and the parcel shelf adds another two speakers. Finally, there’s a center fill speaker smack bang in the middle of the instrument panel, creating a true 360-degree experience that should be brilliant even with the roof down.
Biometrics and Voice Recognition
As always, you can connect the new CLE to your Mercedes me account using the app, and up to seven different profiles can be loaded, each refining settings for seat height, steering wheel adjustment, head-up display placement, ambient lighting schemes, media settings, and more. As before, you can access your particular profile using a PIN, but now there’s a fingerprint scanner in the menu bar under the center display, and if you’d rather not reach over, voice recognition can also unlock your profile. This is important because of another suite of changes that have been made, which we’ll discuss below.
Templates, Routines, and Themes
Thanks to the wonders of AI, the CLE offers “automated adaptation to personal habits.” Basically, the car can learn what functions you use most often and when, and then offer those functions to you as “Magic Modules” when it predicts you may need them. To-do lists, birthday reminders, and more than 20 other functions are included, but there’s another step.
Templates offer basic setup configurations. For example, “Cold days” can switch on the seat warmers when the exterior temperature reaches a certain point and change the ambient lighting to orange. “Date night” would play romantic music and turn the lighting rose-colored. You get the idea.
Routines are user-created protocols for different scenarios, so this is where you could customize the car to activate heating and change ambient lighting when the cabin drops below a set temperature. Customizable names are possible, and once you select the routine, you won’t need to do it again until your next trip – the car will automatically keep things as you want them.
Finally, Merc hopes to launch AI-generated routines based on learning. This will start with AI routines for the seat heating, massaging, and ventilation features, but other systems will be integrated in time.
Thanks to the fact that the CLE comes with the latest MBUX infotainment software, there are new media and interaction features. Among them is the new “Just Talk” function for the “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant. Anybody who has used early voice control systems understands that these are somewhat finicky. Sometimes, your iPhone will ask Siri a question when you were just having a conversation with your buddy. The same thing happens in cars when phrases that sound something like “Hey BMW” or “Hey Mercedes” inadvertently activate the voice control system.
But now, the car will only listen to your every word when you select the Just Talk function, which means that the rest of the time, it should be less intrusive. Merc recommends only using this function when you are alone, and in this mode, you need not use the “Hey Mercedes” keyword.
There you have it. Five new updates. None are particularly game-changing, but they do appear to be exactly the sorts of things that buyers in this segment want. Let’s just hope the price is as agreeable.