The Mercedes-Benz convertible reportedly replacing the E-Class and C-Class drop-tops has been snapped during testing.

    From the outside, the Mercedes-Benz CLE convertible is clearly bigger than the upcoming SL.

    Instead, it looks closer to the E-Class drop-top dimensionally, and has headlights that don’t quite match up with those of the 2022 C-Class.

    Auto Express reports the brand will debut a new model called the CLE in 2023.

    It’ll reportedly initially be available only as a two-door convertible, with a two-door coupe set to follow.

    There won’t, however, be a four-door coupe or five-door liftback – like the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe or Audi A5 Sportback – to slot in between the CLA and CLS.

    It’s likely the CLE will use the new MRA-2 architecture and feature a range of electrified four-cylinder powertrains, as with the redesigned C-Class.

    It could, however, feature six-cylinder powertrains like the E-Class as a way to elevate it above the C-Class.

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

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

    “We want to focus on these models,” said Schafer. “They have their niche and their purpose. That’s why we are going to tailor exactly the right vehicle in this segment. There’s more to come on the coupé and cabriolet side in this mid-segment but it’s going to take a little bit more time before we can speak about it.”

    The low-volume SLC has already been axed and no coupe or convertible versions of the redesigned Mercedes-Benz S-Class have been announced.

    Mercedes-AMG is developing the next-generation Mercedes-Benz SL and Mercedes-AMG GT alongside each other, with the latter expected to lose its droptop body style to make way for the reborn SL.

    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’s platform but with E-Class styling cues, and was available with a range of engines ranging from four to eight-cylinder configurations.

    It was replaced by the E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet, which continued to use C-Class mechanicals but was quickly joined by a C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet.

    In 2017, Mercedes-Benz finally returned an E-Class-based coupe and convertible to the E-Class line, while the C-Class range continued to offer two-door variants.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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