The Mercedes CLS-Class Shooting Brake is an estate car – but not as we know it.
... that makes it a very special car indeed.
A stylish combination of form and function, it’s a more sporting, coupe-like take on the station wagon theme that delivers discreetly rewarding driving dynamics, a beautifully finished cabin and, perhaps most importantly of all, a level of practicality that CLS-owners have never enjoyed before. Something they wouldn’t have wanted had that versatility diluted the style that sets this car apart. But it hasn’t.
If you come to this Mercedes expecting it to feel like a big executive estate car, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. As you should be. After all, the whole point of a ‘Shooting Brake’ is the delivery of sports coupe driving dynamics with extra carriage space. If the car in question doesn’t manage that, then all it really is a sleekly styled estate car – like, say, a Jaguar XF Sportbrake or a BMW 5 Series Touring. To live up to its name, this CLS really has to offer a little more than that out on the road. And fortunately, it does.
Show the car a corner and you’ll appreciate steering that’s direct and surprisingly incisive – very different from that of a comparable E-Class. Yes, there’s body roll but you can’t completely eliminate that on a car this big. What matters though is that this rear wheel drive Mercedes feels very agile for such a large vehicle, with impressive levels of grip.
The Shooting Brake range is built around the same two key diesel units fitted to most CLS-Class four-doors – a four cylinder 204bhp 250 CDI and a V6 265bhp 350 CDI. All Shooting Brake models ride pretty well, thanks in no small part to the fact that all are at least partly air-sprung, Mercedes having added a self-levelling AirMATIC system at the rear right across the range to cater for the unlikely scenario of this car being saddled with a heavy load. The flagship model in the range, the only one with petrol power, the 557bhp 63 AMG variant, which has 800Nm of torque and can be specced to go as fast as 186mph, has its own sportier suspension settings.
Is this really some kind of sportscar? You could almost believe it. Like all CLS-Class models, the front end is modelled on that used in the SLS AMG supercar and is dominated by LED High Performance Headlamps.At the side, the uninterrupted arc of the upper window line really does offer something of a coupe-like feel, despite all those doors.
If you always liked the idea of a Mercedes CLS-Class but, a bit like me, always thought it would require too many practical compromises, then this Shooting Brake version may well be your ideal car. It’ll fit into the way you live, rather than obliging you to create a lifestyle that suits it. But it’ll still offer up a unique driveway statement in the way that a CLS has always done. In fact, arguably a more distinctive one.
The name may be a nod to past hunting wagons of the landed gentry but the concept is very much of our time: a large estate that doesn’t drive like one, that’s exquisitely finished, practically configured and affordable to run, if not to buy in the first place. It is very much, as I said at the beginning, the estate for people who wouldn’t normally buy such a thing. And that makes it a very special car indeed.