Cruising the streets of Southern California in a convertible on a sunny day is usually a prime opportunity for some top-down motoring. Unfortunately, the driver of this Mercedes-Benz CLE convertible prototype had to keep the roof up, for obvious reasons. Still, that didn't stop KindelAuto on YouTube from glimpsing the interior of this camouflaged test car – and much more besides.
This new spy video could be the closest look we've had thus far at the forthcoming CLE-Class. It reinforces the expectation that the new convertible will borrow styling cues from the posh SL-Class. Despite heavy covers on the front, the camera gives us an extreme close-up of the nose, showing swept-back headlights that are angled and tucked beneath corresponding body lines reaching back from the top of the grille. There are covers overtop the lights, making them look larger than they really are, but a close look shows the smaller shape underneath.
Gallery: Mercedes-Benz CLE Convertible Spy Photos
Curiously, the rear of this test vehicle still has placeholder taillights, suggesting this is actually an earlier prototype. We've caught other CLE prototypes with production components, but the close proximity of the camera gives us a great look at the CLE's rounded shape at the back. If anything, the placeholder lenses accentuate the curve at the top where the quarter panel meets the trunk. It's less pronounced further down, and the heavily wrapped lower fascia lacks visible exhaust outlets. That doesn't mean this is an electric Benz, but it does mean we aren't looking at an AMG model.
As the camera passes the passenger window, we're treated to a relatively clear view inside the cabin. The large, angled center infotainment screen is clearly visible, as are the trio of round climate vents above it. While the CLE's exterior might resemble the SL-Class, inside is more akin to the current C-Class layout. The digital screen for the driver is also visible here, and we can see white markings on both displays indicating that this is indeed an earlier prototype.
When the CLE-Class debuts, we're expecting to find turbocharged four-cylinder power across the board. Inevitable AMG variants will have hotter tunes for more power, with a possible plug-in hybrid delivering the highest output. You can expect to see that sometime in 2024, but the standard CLE-Class in both coupe and convertible trim should be revealed later this year.