DRIVEN: New Mercedes-Benz CLE and E-Class are superb road trip companions

driven: new mercedes-benz cle and e-class are superb road trip companions

DRIVEN: New Mercedes-Benz CLE and E-Class are superb road trip companions

Waking up early on a public holiday Monday morning at the end of a long weekend isn’t exactly when most people would decide to embark on a road trip, but the idea of driving the new Mercedes-Benz CLE and E-Class models down to KZN would certainly make it worthwhile.

Arriving at Mercedes-Benz’s Bedfordview dealership, a selection of perfectly prepared cars stood on the shop floor, as though they were awaiting collection by customers.

The CLE and E-Class share similarities, in that the sleek and stylish CLE replaces what was previously the C-Class and E-Class coupé models. As a result, the CLE aims to be more luxurious than the C-Class, while remaining sportier than the E-Class.

Size apparently does matter, and in this case, the CLE’s wheelbase measures 4,850mm, making it identical to its current C-Class sedan sibling. The CLE also benefits from 100mm more head room, 19mm more shoulder and elbow room, and 72mm more knee room for rear passengers.

These figures wouldn’t matter much in our case, however as we’d be in pairs, but what would be important is the boot capacity, and although we don’t have an actual measurement in litres, luggage for two for an overnight shot’ left to the warm and buzzing Umhlanga would be swallowed quite comfortably by the CLE’s boot.

Being an early public holiday morning in Johannesburg, there was hardly any traffic as we set off on the N3.

driven: new mercedes-benz cle and e-class are superb road trip companions

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan. Picture: Mpho Mahlangu.

I opted to begin my first stint in the executive E-Class in E 220d guise, which I believe is a superb recipe for a long trek. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged oil-burner with 48V mild-hybrid technology providing 145kW and 440Nm of torque, with a buttery smooth 9-speed automatic.

The journey was made more relaxing thanks to the suite of advanced driver assistance systems, which include adaptive cruise control, essentially removing a great deal of driving strain out of a long trek.

Jumping into the rear seats proved to be quite impressive thanks to the levels of leg, knee and head room. Rear passengers are also treated to two-zone climate control, and USB C ports for added comfort and convenience.

Entertainment in the E-Class was made possible thanks to Mercedes’ trio of large digital screens, with the optional Super screen being the party piece, adding the third digital screen in front of the front passenger on the dashboard.

Passengers can control various vehicle functions from this screen, however, interestingly, this screen is not dimmed for viewing by the driver and proved to be quite distracting from the driver’s seat.

driven: new mercedes-benz cle and e-class are superb road trip companions

The E-Class cabin has no shortage of screen real estate. Picture: Mpho Mahlangu

Our road trip would take us along the N3 for a rather uneventful almost two hours before taking an off-ramp, which would see us heading into the small town of Frankfort.

The lengthy (and pricey) convoy of vehicles could easily have fooled locals in the small town into believing that very important state officials were due for an important caucus in their town.

Speaking of pricing, the E-Class is available in South Africa in two flavours: an E 200 starting from R1,344,750 and an E 220d priced from R1,430,550, whereas the CLE coupé is on offer in CLE 200 guise, priced from R1,355,350 and the CLE 300 4MATIC is priced from R1,430,650.

After a coffee and cheesecake pitstop, we set off again but this time detouring towards Clarens. The E 220d, even riding on large alloy wheels and low-profile tyres, offered a great deal of comfort on not so savoury road conditions as we drove to the picturesque town of Clarens for lunch.

It's breathtaking driving through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, which is surrounded by the most stunning views of mountains all around. Road trips such as these remind one of how gorgeous our country’s landscape really is.

After a short comfort break and photo opportunity, it was time to swap vehicles and hop into the sleek and sporty CLE 300.

driven: new mercedes-benz cle and e-class are superb road trip companions

New Mercedes-Benz CLE Coupe. Picture: Mpho Mahlangu.

On offer here is a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine which produces 190kW and 400Nm of torque, whereas the CLE 200 offers 150kW and 320Nm of torque. Both models offer an additional electric boost of 17kW and 205Nm of torque.

The route we’d be taking would be quite engaging and perfect for the CLE as it offered several twists and turns, making for an ideal opportunity to see how it handles spirited driving and it certainly exceeded expectations.

The power on offer was ideal to make for an engaging driving experience, and with the added safety element of the 4MATIC system, driver confidence was at a high.

The new seats designed exclusively for the CLE also offered good support for spirited driving. However, the meatier AMG derivatives of the CLE are certainly something to look forward to if their power figures and technology are anything to go by.

The rest of the trek down South would see us eventually returning onto the N3 where my driving partner and I chuckled at the heavy visible congestion heading back to Gauteng. Add a string of trucks to the mix, and it’s safe to say that many people may not have been too happy to be driving in that direction.

Having done a fair bit of driving, I hopped out of the driver’s seat and afforded my driving partner an opportunity to take over driving duties while I took to the passenger seat to ensure that the road trip tunes kept banging, with the occasional power nap in between.

As we munched the miles, progress was looking good and we were well on track to make it to King Shaka International Airport for my flight, with time to spare, despite heavy congestion in Pietermaritzburg thanks to you guessed it ... roadworks.

After almost 12 hours after the day began in Joburg, I arrived at the airport, and was rather pleased at the chariot that was the CLE 300.

It, along with the E-Class, were superb road trip companions and if you were to ask me which would be my pick, I’d have a hard time selecting which one.

We’ll be extensively testing both models in the months to follow though so stick around to read which our overall choice would be.

Follow Mpho on Instagram and Twitter

OTHER NEWS

56 minutes ago

UK weather: Highs of 27C forecast as weather set to improve for summer holidays

56 minutes ago

Land for growing fruit and vegetables should be doubled, new Government told

56 minutes ago

Video: Aussie star tests Paris Olympics 'anti-sex beds' in the Athletes Village - and she is NOT happy with the results

56 minutes ago

Video: Key swing state poll show who is leading between Trump and Kamala Harris after Biden dropped out

56 minutes ago

Video: Aussie star tests Paris Olympics 'anti-sex beds' in the Athletes Village - and she is NOT happy with the results

56 minutes ago

Inside Biden's historic decision to drop out of the 2024 race

56 minutes ago

'Let’s not politicize a disaster' | Mayor Whitmire criticizes councilman’s comments on Hurricane Beryl preparation

56 minutes ago

What is stiff-person syndrome? All about Celine Dion's rare disorder

56 minutes ago

‘Twisters’ rocks box office with powerful $80.5 million opening weekend

56 minutes ago

5-star recruit Derek Meadows commits to LSU over Notre Dame

56 minutes ago

Wenyen Gabriel: South Sudan Doesn’t Have Indoor Basketball Courts And We Are A Bunch Of Refugees

56 minutes ago

Lakers News: How the Lakers Are Navigating the Salary Cap with Redick’s Vision

56 minutes ago

Key swing state poll show who is leading between Trump and Harris

56 minutes ago

Scottie Scheffler ends Open in nightmare after failing to hit past women's tees

1 hour ago

Little Sunshine Spa: Skin Fairy boss Carmen McNamara opens Perth’s first organic baby spa in Mt Hawthorn

1 hour ago

Father killed alongside daughter in Sydney train tragedy identified as Anand Runwal

1 hour ago

Man denies committing indecent act on Emirates flight from Dubai to Sydney

1 hour ago

Wighton prepares for daunting Canberra return

1 hour ago

ANC admits incoherent messaging resulted in KZN loss

1 hour ago

Shohei Ohtani launches 473-foot, 116.7mph bomb that nearly sails out of Dodger Stadium

1 hour ago

Ukraine war latest: Around 20,000 Russians killed in Kharkiv offensive, Zelensky says

1 hour ago

Nine vows to keep investing in youth media, appoints new Pedestrian boss

1 hour ago

Dolphins to Bring in Former SB Champion LB After Shaquil Barrett's Retirement

1 hour ago

‘Sprawling’ crisis leaves Aussies on brink

1 hour ago

Watch: Shohei Ohtani Nearly Hits Home Run Out Of Dodger Stadium

1 hour ago

Increase in superannuation guarantee rate forecast to boost retirement savings by $21,000

1 hour ago

Elon Musk asked OpenAI investor Vinod Khosla to support Trump. Khosla said he doesn't 'accept depravity'.

1 hour ago

Journeyman Dan Brown finally makes a name for himself by surviving Troon test

1 hour ago

Canada moves to phase out oil-fired furnaces

1 hour ago

Woodside share price falls despite $1.8 billion 'global LNG powerhouse' bid

1 hour ago

Wife of Yankees exec and former Mets GM Omar Minaya is 'mysteriously found dead at couple's New Jersey home as suicide is ruled out'

1 hour ago

Video:

1 hour ago

Aussie star tests Paris Olympics 'anti-sex beds' in the Athletes Village - and she is NOT happy with the results

1 hour ago

Why DroneShield, South32, Whitehaven Coal, and Woodside shares are tumbling today

1 hour ago

Woman dies from tick-borne virus as dangerous illnesses spread

1 hour ago

Boeing is losing $1 billion a month with planes awaiting parts - and they are sitting in employee parking lots

1 hour ago

Jeep Gladiator: Up to $25,000 off with drive-away pricing

1 hour ago

NHS warns of ‘delays’ as services recover from global IT outage

1 hour ago

Nick Dunlap, still just 20, wins 2024 Barracuda Championship for second PGA Tour title

1 hour ago

Banner’s defiance keeps Rebels at bay as Tony Kelly bends epic final to his will

ALONGWALKER VIETNAM: Kênh khám phá trải nghiệm của giới trẻ, thế giới du lịch ALONGWALKER INDONESIA: Saluran untuk mengeksplorasi pengalaman para pemuda global