WHEN the original Mercedes-Benz CLS was launched back in 2005, it was deemed quite a pioneering car because it offered the rakish styling of a coupe combined with the practicality of a four-door saloon and that was a first for the industry.
Now, 13 years down the line, Mercedes has just launched the all-new third generation CLS and while it still offers the same dramatic styling and all-round practicality of its predecessors it also boasts a wealth of on-board technology in a luxurious cabin.
The new CLS features a more pronounced front end with distinctive air scoops and a wider grille to accentuate the car's width along with the low-set headlights.
The diamond-effect grille, privacy glass, electric sliding sunroof and 19-inch alloys complete the dynamic appeal.
The interior is one of the finest on offer in today's market and oozes class with black leather upholstery, elegant grey open-pore ash wood trim, air vents that are inspired by jet engine turbines, 64-colour ambient lighting and a pair of 12.3-inch display screens that spread from the centre of the dashboard to the right of the steering wheel and sit neatly behind a glass panel.
One of the screens is where all the infotainment settings are found while the other offers information on the car's vital signs such as speed, revs and fuel levels etc. This screen which is positioned behind the steering wheel can be set in Classic, Sport or Progressive display depending on your preference.
Techno treats on our car included a pitch perfect 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system, an excellent sat nav, a 360-degree camera, remote parking assist and wireless charging.
Obviously, such luxury comes at a price. Our CLS 400 d 4MATIC in AMG Line specification started life costing £60,410 but a few optional extras saw the price increase to £67,240. This was for the 3.0-litre 340bhp diesel-powered car mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
It could complete the 0-62mph dash in a very swift 5.0 seconds, maxed out at an electronically-limited 155mph and can deliver combined fuel economy of 47.9mpg with carbon emissions of 156g/km.
But statistics and speed data aside, it's the manner in which the CLS performs that cannot be ignored.
It looks like Mercedes' take on the bullet train and it delivers a similar driving experience with blisteringly-quick acceleration and all the composure and elegance required from a premium marque these days.
It's a car that can be driven with a little respect and returns the favour with a refined, yet accomplished performance. However, open up the throttle and move across from Eco or Comfort driving modes into Sport or Sport+ and it's a whole different story.
The power is instant and it keeps on coming. The road-holding is very assured and the cabin is beautifully well insulated against any engine or road surface noise.
The steering wheel mounted paddles offer extra control over the gear shifts and the added bonus of Mercedes' 4MATIC all-wheel drive system means you have plenty of grip even in wetter driving conditions.
Whilst Sport+ is fun and guaranteed to put a smile on your face, most business miles will be completed in Comfort mode and it's here that the CLS excels.
The seats feel like they have been purpose built for you and they have plenty of power adjustment along with memory settings. The air suspension irons out any road creases and the luxurious surroundings, especially that ash wood trim, make you feel a little bit special.
Comfort levels in the back of the car are okay, although the sloping roof design means taller passengers may feel a little restricted height-wise.
The boot has a 520-litre capacity and this can be increased further thanks to 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats.
Elsewhere there's a bundle of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the car making the CLS a very practical family vehicle.
The car is also packed with safety kit. Although it has not been tested for a Euro NCAP safety rating, it shares much of its structure with the latest E-Class model which gained a maximum five-star rating.