Los Angeles Auto Show - Originally conceived as a ‘Jag hunter’ of sorts the Mercedes-Benz CLS has just morphed into its third generation and apart from sportier, slanty-looking front and rear styling that borrows from the Stuttgart firm’s latest concept cars, the exterior design forges an evolutionary path with its instantly recognisable silhouette. 

It’s a whole chunk of shiny newness under the skin however, with the CLS slotting onto the latest-generation E-Class platform and inheriting much of its technology and gadgetry.

However, more significantly in our book, it joins the recently facelifted S-Class in featuring the company’s all-new straight-six engine range, marking the return to a fondly-missed engine configuration that disappeared when Merc’s modern V6 range came on stream around the turn of the Millenium.

Three of these new six-cylinder engine options form the initial CLS range which, until the AMG versions arrive, will be topped by the CLS 450 petrol derivative. Its new 3-litre straight-six is officially rated at 270kW and 500Nm, but a small electric motor forming part of its energy-recuperating mild hybrid system can provide an additional 16kW and 250Nm of what Mercedes calls “EQ boost” in short bursts when required.

A more efficient option is Merc’s new 2.9-litre straight-six diesel engine with two-stage turbocharging and variable valve-lift control. It is offered in two output levels: 210kW/600Nm in the CLS 350d variant and 250kW/700Nm in the CLS 400d. 

All three engines are mated to the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system and buyers will get to choose between steel and air suspension set-ups.

Inside is what appears to be a swankier version of the E-Class cabin, complete with illuminated turbine-style air vents and high-gloss wood trimmings.

The smart new ambient lighting system offers 64 individually adjustable colours, and a new impress-your-friends trick that briefly bathes the cabin in red or blue when the climate control system’s temperature is turned up or down.

Buyers can opt for the latest Mercedes-Benz Widescreen cockpit set-up, which aligns two 31.2cm screens horizontally beneath a continuous glass cover. 

The seats in the new CLS were designed exclusively for this model, and although the so-called coupe-sedan offers seating for five for the first time, the outer rear seats have a bucket-like design matching the chairs upfront, so in essence it's probably better described as a 4+1.

Furthermore, those ticking the ‘Energising comfort control’ option will have access to a personalised on-board ‘wellness programme’ of sorts, which brings together the climate, fragrancing, seating, lighting and audio systems to create six unique perk-me-up programmes: Freshness, Warmth, Vitality, Joy, Comfort and Training.

The new Mercedes CLS is due in South Africa around the fourth quarter of 2018.

IOL Motoring