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2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class, Mercedes-AMG Project One, GLC F-Cell: LA Auto Show

What Is It?

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is an all-new version of the car that started the whole “4-door coupe” thing. The original CLS — from 2003 — put a sloping roofline on a midsize luxury sedan, and then everyone seemed to be copying it. And now, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the third generation.

One thing the CLS does have in common with a real coupe (you know, a 2-door car with a fixed roof) is that looks play a larger-than-usual part in the purchasing decision. If someone wanted practicality, they could buy an E-Class wagon.

In a way, there’s nothing too surprising about this new model’s styling. The rear end follows the current company formula, and the sides retain that distinctive profile. It’s the front end that brings the most freshness. Altogether, it’s a relatively clean and unfussy design.

The cabin, meanwhile, is sumptuous and classy. Previous CLS models only had seating for four; this model brings a traditional center rear seat into play.

However, Mercedes-Benz has made sure the CLS has much more to offer than just a statement about an owner’s personal taste. Under the hood of what will be the CLS 450 is an inline 6-cylinder engine, a configuration the company hasn’t used in years. Having six cylinders in a line usually makes for a smooth-running engine. In this application, there’s also a turbocharger and an “internal starter generator” (ISG).

In effect, this is a mild hybrid drivetrain with a stop/start feature and the capacity to capture otherwise wasted energy. Mercedes-Benz says this setup can create V8-like power without the fuel consumption. An output of 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque is certainly respectable from a 3.0-liter engine and could no doubt be boosted to create more. The ISG contributes another 21 hp and 184 lb-ft. This might just be the beginning of the end for V6 engines.

The V6 at least has some kind of future in the form of the Mercedes-AMG Project One. Unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show earlier this year and now making its North American debut in Los Angeles, this is a hybrid racing machine using technology and expertise gained from winning Formula One world championships. It packs a turbocharged 1.6-liter V6 and no less than four electric motors. Total output is estimated at 1,000 hp; top speed is 217 mph. A limited run of 275 units will be produced, at a cost of around $2.5 million apiece.

On a more humble note is another star from Frankfurt, the GLC F-Cell. The GLC is the company’s well-respected premium compact crossover, and this version is powered by a fuel cell. So it uses hydrogen to create electricity, and the only emission is water vapor.

It’s appropriate that Mercedes-Benz has brought the GLC F-Cell to Los Angeles, because California is so far the only state that has hydrogen filling stations. It takes just a few minutes to refuel. The GLC F-Cell also has a lithium-ion battery that can be recharged in 1.5 hours. Maximum range is 271 miles. The company plans to bring it over to the United States toward the end of 2019.

How Much?

Pricing for the 2019 CLS will be announced nearer to when it goes on sale. For a rough idea, the outgoing 2018 range starts at around $76,000.

When Can You Get It?

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class goes on sale in the United States around the fall of 2018.

Add It to Your Shopping List Because…

It’s arguably stylish, has an interesting engine and enjoys all the usual swish Mercedes-Benz appointments.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Audi A7 — The other high-end German “4-door coupe” — which is actually a hatchback. Pretty sleek and sleekly pretty.

2018 Porsche Panamera — Again, more hatchback than coupe-like, but who in their right mind wouldn’t want to drive one of these?

See all 2017 LA Auto Show articles

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