So what's new?

* All-new version of Merc's coupe/saloon * On sale March, from 46,500 * MPG 31.3-55.3, CO2 135-210g/km...

So what's new?

The original CLS gave the somewhat staid Mercedes-Benz executive image a whole new edgy makeover. However, the old cars problem was that it was essentially still a frumpy E-class in a party dress.

With the new car, Mercedes has set about transforming the CLS into something that drives as dynamically as it looks.

Every panel is new, but the four-door-coup styling and frameless windows mean that its still very obviously a CLS. There are also styling references to the latest E-Class saloon, coup and cabriolet, but with more attitude.

So whats new?
The new CLS is much stiffer and stronger than its predecessor, and its lighter: the bonnet, front wings, bootlid and doors are all made from aluminium. It also cuts through the air with 10% less drag than the old car. A by-product of the doors being so light (theyre each 6kg lighter than steel equivalents) is that theyre much easier to open and close.

Click here for a larger versionFor the first time, the CLS will be available with a four-cylinder 2.1-litre twin-turbo diesel engine and a six-speed manual gearbox, albeit not immediately when the car is launched. This CLS will be capable of 55.3mpg and emits only 135g/km of CO2, so company car drivers will be taxed at 18%.

From launch the 3.5-litre V6 petrol, and the 3.0-litre V6 diesel in particular, will be the big sellers. Both are fitted with engine stop-start to reduce CO2 and increase fuel economy. Given the choice, wed stick with the diesel, because its low-rev torque, performance, refinement and { economy advantage make it a far better bet than the petrol car, which lacks the necessary punch and is thrashy when extended.

If you simply must have petrol power then there will also be a 402bhp twin-turbocharged 4.7-litre V8. Its manically quick, offers a tidal wave of mid-range shove and is also surprisingly frugal, with an average of 31.3mpg.