Mercedes-Benz is gearing up to replace its two-door C-Class and E-Class coupe and convertible with a new model that’s believed to launching under the CLE nameplate.

    Set to also offer higher-performance Mercedes-AMG variants, the CLE will allow Mercedes-Benz to still field a rival to the BMW 4 Series and M4 and the Audi A5, S5 and RS5.

    We’ve previously seen a number of Mercedes-Benz CLE coupe and convertible models, and most recently the range-topping AMG 63 plug-in hybrid variant, but this time our spy photographers captured what’s believed to be the tamer AMG 53.

    This prototype is still covered in camouflage but appears to be production-ready, which points toward a potential reveal next year.

    It features a set of rounded quad exhaust outlets – a design feature of tamer AMG models for years – instead of the squared-off units that are on flagship AMG 63 models.

    It’s unclear what will power the Mercedes-AMG CLE, but a version of the SL 43 and C43‘s mild-hybrid turbo four-cylinder engine is expected.

    A development of the engine that debuted in the AMG A45 S hot hatch, the 2.0-litre unit in the C43 pumps out 300kW of power and 500Nm of torque.

    The turbocharger is still driven by the engine’s exhaust gases, but it can be electrically boosted by the 48V mild-hybrid system to free up a further 10kW when the driver buries their right roof.

    It’s sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed multi-clutch transmission. The 100km/h sprint in the AMG C43 takes just 4.6 seconds, and flat out you’ll be doing 265km/h.

    It’s expected the Mercedes-Benz CLE will be based on the C-Class’ MRA2 architecture, which it also shares with the GLC and S-Class.

    Previous reports have indicated Mercedes-Benz doesn’t want to leave the luxury coupe and convertible market, but is consolidating its offerings. The latest S-Class, for example, won’t be offered in two-door guise, and the SLC has been axed.

    Mercedes-Benz research and development head, Marcus Schafer, recently told Auto Express it effectively had three convertibles – the SLC, and the C-Class and E-Class Cabriolets – occupying a part of the market that isn’t particularly profitable.

    He conceded, however, it’s important for a luxury car brand to continue to offer coupe and convertible models.

    As Mercedes-Benz expands its range of electric vehicles (EVs) to include models like the EQE and EQS built on a dedicated EV architecture, it’s aware its model line-up can’t get too large and unwieldy.

    Merging the two-door C-Class and E-Class ranges is reminiscent of the days of the CLK.

    Sold for two generations from 1997 to 2010, the CLK used the C-Class’ platform but with E-Class styling cues, and was available with a range of engines ranging from four- to eight-cylinder configurations.

    In 2017, Mercedes-Benz finally returned a coupe and convertible to the E-Class line-up. These have been sold concurrently with the C-Class coupe and convertible.

    Click an image to view the full gallery.

    MORE: 2023 Mercedes-AMG CLE 63 spied
    MORE: 2023 Mercedes-Benz CLE coupe spied

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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