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In Canada, we get only the CLE 300 Cabriolet, with its two-litre, four-cylinder mild-hybrid engine.Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

Mercedes introduced its new CLE coupe last year, as a replacement for both the C-Class and E-Class coupes. It’s sized between the two outgoing models, and is intended to provide C-Class sport with E-Class size and luxury. I reviewed it in October and most of what I said then applies to the new convertible version.

In Canada, as with the coupe, we get only the CLE 300 Cabriolet, with its two-litre, four-cylinder mild-hybrid engine. Americans get the more powerful CLE 450 inline-six, and Europeans also get the less powerful CLE 200, but our market isn’t considered big enough to warrant so many choices. And besides, if we want more power, there’s now the AMG version I just drove here in Spain, which will be reviewed separately.

However, this is a review of the new Cabriolet. The main mechanical difference from the coupe is that four-wheel steering is not available – there just isn’t the space for the extra bits and pieces if there’s to be any meaningful room in the trunk. The car weighs about 130 kilograms more than the hardtop, which is mainly from the additional strengthening needed for the A-pillar and side-to-side stiffness, so it will five-star all the crash testing and won’t bend around corners – think of strengthening a shoebox with no lid. This means it’s not as quick as the coupe, which I already criticized for being not very quick with the 300′s engine. The suspension is a little softer, too. This is a convertible meant for luxurious cruising rather than canyon-carving.

Like other Mercedes convertibles, it’s equipped with an AirCap wind deflector above the windshield that works in conjunction with a mesh diffuser behind the rear seats. They both raise and lower at the touch of a button and really do cut the amount of turbulence inside the cabin when the roof is down and the windows are up. It’s a bit noisier when the deflector is raised, but this is a latest-generation system that keeps everything very civilized for passengers who want to actually talk to one another.

The centre console display screen, which is normally tipped at the same 40-degree angle as the coupe’s screen, is adjustable to a more vertical 15 degrees with the touch of another button. This makes it easier to read when the sun is shining in from above. The button flips it between one or the other – there’s no fiddling around for the perfect angle. I asked the chief engineer why I couldn’t have that level of finicky adjustment and he told me it’s because Mercedes wants you to just drive the damn car. Don’t get distracted by too many choices of set-up. If only more automakers were so straightforward.

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The AirCap wind deflector above the windshield to cut the amount of turbulence inside the cabin.Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

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The 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE 300 Cabriolet with the roof up. Because of how the roof is made, it doesn’t wrinkle up when it’s folded.Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

Apparently, one of the greatest challenges for convertible design, after structural rigidity, is the management of water. There are no rain gutters in the roof or at the top of the windshield to deflect water away from smearing the side windows in a storm. Mercedes says extensive design work in the wind tunnel has ensured there’s no issue with rain and side- and rear-visibility for the CLE Cabriolet. It didn’t rain here during my time with the car to prove itself, but the online demonstrations you can see at the maker’s website seem to bear this out.

Tech specs

2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE 300 Cabriolet

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The 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE 300 Cabriolet with the wind deflector and mesh diffuser behind the rear seats both up.Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

  • Base price/As tested: $85,000 est. plus $3,500 (est.) for freight and pre-delivery inspection, plus fees and taxes
  • Engine: two-litre turbocharged inline-four mild hybrid
  • Horsepower/Torque (lb-ft): 255 (+ 23 boost) / 295 (+ 151 boost)
  • Transmission/Drive: nine-speed automatic / all-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy (litres per 100 kilometres): To be announced
  • Alternatives: Audi A5 Cabriolet, BMW 4 Series convertible


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The a 'sharknose' hood looks as if it points down at the road ahead.Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

Like the CLE coupe, the Cabriolet is a gorgeous car with low, wide lines and a “sharknose” hood that seems to almost point down at the road ahead, ready to vacuum up distance quickly. The roof is made from five different layers of fabric, seamless on the outside and developed to stay both supple and stretched. In other words, it doesn’t wrinkle up when it’s folded and stored in its dedicated trunk area.


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The interior of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE 300 Cabriolet with the wind deflector and mesh diffuser behind the rear seats both up.Mark Richardson/The Globe and Mail

The cabin will be familiar to anyone who’s already seen the coupe, though the screen angle adjustment is a clever addition. The digital dials and gauges are fully configurable, of course, and everything is directed subtly at the driver.

The rear seats are spacious enough with leg room and hip room for a pair of adults when the roof is down, but when it’s in place, headroom is definitely cramped. Your kids will love it, however, and the standard AirCap system cuts turbulence in the back considerably. Not completely, by any stretch of the imagination, but considerably.


Mercedes claims the 300 Cabriolet will accelerate from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in 6.6 seconds, which is 0.4 seconds slower than the lighter coupe. Power takes a while to kick in – you’re best to flip down a couple of gears with the paddles if you want to overtake, rather than just putting your right foot into it and waiting for things to happen. The electric boost from the 48-volt mild-hybrid motor helps keep acceleration smooth with barely discernible up-shifts, and maximum torque begins at a relatively low 2,000 revolutions per minute. The extra power and torque from the motor, known as ‘boost,’ isn’t added onto the top of its strength, but fills in the gaps as needed.

The suspension is a little softer for the convertible than it is for the coupe, though you can pay extra for additional adjustability. Mercedes is pointing this car more at luxury and comfort than sport. There’ll be an AMG convertible in a year or so if that’s what you want.


Like the coupe, the convertible features Mercedes’ latest MBUX technology for its infotainment system. Voice control seemed simpler than with most other makers, and the car had no difficulty recognizing my requests when I gave it the initial “Hey Mercedes” command. Spend the extra money on the upgraded sound system and you can have speakers in the front-seat headrests, above the effective (and standard) AirScarf system that blows hot air onto your neck to dissipate the chill. I use this even when it’s not cold. The temperature here varied between 12 degrees in the mountains and 37 degrees at the coast, and the car was always comfortable with the roof down.


There’s less room in the trunk than the coupe, of course, because it needs to fit the roof in there. It’s practical, though: 385 litres of cargo space when the roof is in place, compared to 420 litres for the coupe, and 295 litres when the roof is stowed away.

The verdict

A lovely convertible from Mercedes, though not as powerful as it looks. If the yet-to-be-announced price is competitive and you have the money, it’s definitely worth consideration.

The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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