The Mercedes-Benz CLS was the progenitor of the four-door coupé craze, the impact of which was so far-reaching it even inspired cars as humble as the latest Honda Civic. Now, there’s a new third-generation model that gains a radical redesign inside and out, along with a range of new engines and technologies.

Out goes the controversial, heavily-creased styling of its predecessor, replaced by a calmer, more elegant look that harkens back to the seminal original. The CLS’ trademark low-slung roofline and frameless windows remain, but the awkward rear “ponton” bulge has been massaged away, leaving behind just a single arching shoulder that stretches from head- to tail light.

Speaking of which, the lamp units are the most striking parts of the new car – the bold tapered headlights are slanted to complement the diamond-studded trapezoidal grille, while the two-piece LED tail lights are angular and feature Edgelight backlighting for a crystalline three-dimensional appearance. The low-mounted rear number plate recess and reflectors are typical of Mercedes coupés.

The futuristic interior has been lifted almost wholesale from the E-Class sedan, with the same horizontal dashboard design, flowing surfaces and a generous instrument and infotainment display panel – the latter, as usual, can be upgraded to a full Widescreen Cockpit with twin 12.3-inch displays and a glass cover.

Intricate jet turbine-style air vents from the E-Class Coupé make their way here, but this time they are illuminated by the ambient lighting system that is again available in a whopping 64 colours. Changing the temperature of the climate control system briefly switches the colour of the air vent lighting to red or blue depending on whether you’re making the interior warmer or colder – a very cool (hah!) touch.

The seats feature a model-specific design with either piping or transverse seams, and for the first time the CLS is a five-seater (instead of just four, following the now-defunct Shooting Brake wagon), with rear pews that can be folded in a 40:20:40 configuration. The boot measures 520 litres, the same as before.

A number of features have been taken from the facelifted S-Class, including the optional Energizing comfort control system that uses the climate control (including fragrance), surface and steering wheel heating, ambient lighting, music and the seats’ heating, ventilation and massage features to deliver a wellness set-up tailored to the mood and need of the customer.

You also get a range of driver assists from the larger car, part of the Driving Assistance Package. Among these are the more proactive Distronic adaptive cruise control and Active Steering Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, Active Brake Assist with a cross-traffic function, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and Pre-Safe Plus.

The E-Class’ Active Lane Change Assist, which enables autonomous lane changes, has also been significantly improved, while the Driving Assistance Plus Package throws in Pre-Safe Impulse Side that pushes the front occupants away from the point of impact in the event of a side collision.

On top of that, the improved camera and radar give the new CLS a better view of surrounding traffic, and take into account map and navigation data for the first time; there’s car-to-x communication available as well. Lastly, the optional Multibeam LED headlights feature Ultra Range high beam that produces the maximum light intensity permitted by law, maintaining above one lux over a distance of more than 650 metres.

Power comes from new straight-six engines also first introduced on the facelifted S-Class, starting with the 2.9 litre diesel mill with a stepped-bowl combustion chamber, sequential twin turbochargers and Camtronic variable valve lift, plus an aluminium block, steel pistons and Nanoslide cylinder wall coating. The oil burner is available in 286 hp/600 Nm CLS 350 d and 340 hp/700 Nm CLS 400 d guises.

The more powerful CLS 450 mild hybrid pairs a 367 hp/500 Nm 3.0 litre petrol mill with a 48-volt integrated starter/generator that churns out 22 hp and 250 Nm of torque. So equipped, the CLS will go from zero to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds, yet is also capable of a combined fuel consumption figure of 7.5 litres per 100 km.

At launch, all variants are equipped with 4Matic all-wheel drive and are available with either passive steel comfort suspension or a Dynamic Body Control setup – the latter adds continuously adjustable front and rear damping with Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes, selectable using the driving mode switch. There’s also Air Body Control suspension with improved adjustable and adaptive damping.