Ian Lamming goes the distance in the latest Mercedes CLE Coupe
Ian Lamming goes the distance in the latest Mercedes CLE Coupe

PRESS the starter button and there it is, 915 miles to empty!

In all my motoring days I have never driven a car with such an incredible range and it’s something that should make us rethink the whole motoring malarky.

This gloriously swoopy Mercedes is the CLE Coupe and, shock of all shocks, it is powered by a diesel motor. No, I hear you cry collectively, not a diesel engine, anything but a diesel engine. We all thought they’d been ostracised for being lung-clogging, ice cap melting pariahs.

Well, they are not and this is why. Most electrics have a range of between 200 and 300 miles and can need charging anything up to twice a day. That’s taking power from the grid that has to be supplied somehow. And let’s not talk about battery longevity or the horrible process to get lithium about of the ground.

So let’s look at petrol. Tank ranges aren’t that much over 300 and consumption tends to hover around the 40mpg mark unless you add in a hybrid electric motor which could push it up to 50mpg, if you are careful. Emissions tend to be in the 100g/km range so it’s not as clean as electric, obviously, but neither is it a smoky chimney.

The CLE is powered by a super-efficient turbo diesel backed by a mild hybrid system. On a slow run North I see 65 miles per gallon on the trip computer. Given that it has a 14.5 gallon tank that’s a potential range of 944 miles.

To cover that distance in an electric would require about four full charges which would take you six hours. In a petrol powered car you would need to fill up three times, or, another way of putting it, use three times the amount of fuel. Even in a hybrid you would have to fill up at least twice, or use twice as much fuel.

And if you look at the emissions figures on the diesel it only produces 125g/km CO2 and has particulate filters to catch the big lumps, so it’s not that dirty either.

All told, how is this particular diesel worse than any other means of transport? The answers is it’s not, in fact it’s probably better.

What you also get, which I’d forgotten, are immense waves of torque with next to no revs on the clock. The maximum torque of 440Nm comes in at just 1,800rpm, that’s not much beyond tickover for goodness sake. It makes motoring in the Mercedes just so relaxed and this prettiest of coupes eats miles like a voracious teenager at the tea table.

I sometimes wonder what the point of a coupe is. It’s not a full on sports car and hasn’t the practicality of a saloon or SUV. But, strangely, those lovely lines find their way under your skin and into your soul. It is aesthetically so pleasing and you can’t help feeling good behind its wheel.

Then there’s the interior which is just pain lovely. Even my mate whose stable includes an embarrassment of riches, such as Ferraris, a new Range Rover and a superfast Audi, admits that Mercedes always do a great interior.

It is opulent, it is ergonomically perfect and all the tech is intuitive and easy to use. Once you have clambered past the tilt-forward front seat there is a surprising amount of room in the back and the bucket seats are exceptionally comfortable. Everyone comments the same – ‘ooh it’s not bad in the back is it,' they say.

Great infotainment, fabulous cabin ambience and a dynamic driving experience make the CLE a brilliant car to live with and an even better one in which to travel long distances. And with more than 900 miles on tap you won’t ever have to worry about having to stop for fuel of any kind.

Fact File

CLE 220 d Coupe AMG Line Premium Plus

Engine: 2.0 turbo diesel mild hybrid

Power: 219hp

0-62mph: 7.5secs

Top speed: 148mph

Combined MPG: 60.1

Transmission: nine-speed auto

CO2 g/km: 125

Price: £52,820