Mercedes-Benz redesigned its C-Class for the 2022 model year, but so far only the sedan and wagon have arrived.
Our latest spy shots show a redesigned version of the C-Class Cabriolet, though it's expected that this new convertible—and a planned coupe—will be rebranded a CLE-Class to reflect a higher positioning in the Mercedes lineup. This way, the CLE-Class can fill in for both the C-Class and E-Class convertibles.
Sales of convertibles have been on the decline as more and more buyers turn toward crossovers, and as a result Mercedes has been cutting back on its drop-tops. The automaker has already phased out its SLK-Class, S-Class Cabriolet, and AMG GT Roadster, and the redesigned 2022 AMG SL is now the sole option in the upper segment. Look for this CLE-Class to fill in at the more affordable end of the lineup.
It's a strategy similar to what Audi and BMW used for convertible versions of their respective A4 and 3-Series. The respective predecessors to the Audi A5 Cabriolet and BMW 4-Series convertible were the A4 Cabriolet and 3-Series convertible that were phased out around 2008 and 2013. Mercedes has also been down this path with its original CLK-Class, which was mechanically similar to the C-Class but positioned higher.
There is some substance to the rumors as the prototype looks to feature a more muscular stance and slightly slimmer headlights compared to the redesigned C-Class, whose underpinnings it will share.
Expect the interior to be similar in design to the C-Class, meaning buyers should be treated to a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 11.9-inch (with portrait layout) infotainment screen as standard.
2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE-Class Cabriolet spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
Powertrains should also be a match. The C-Class is available in the U.S. in C300 guise only at present. The C300 is powered by a 2.0-liter engine that makes 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, and is aided by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that adds another 20 hp and 148 lb-ft for short blasts. More options are coming, including hot AMG C43 and hotter AMG C63 models with powertrains that are expected into similar AMG versions of the CLE-Class.
As for the roof, Mercedes looks to be going with a soft-top design, just like on the SL, though the automaker has heavily camouflaged it so we can't see the true shape.
A reveal should occur late this year or early in 2023. The coupe should arrive about the same time.