• Second generation CLS can't quite match the sheer elegance of its forbear
  • Optional rear privacy glass costs £365
  • AMG Sport models wear 19-inch alloys as standard
  • AMG Sport models get more aggressive bumpers
  • CLS's stylised exhaust pipes sit just proud of the rear bodywork
  • Well-appoined cabin offers plenty of space up front
  • Electrically adjustable front seats are standard
  • Extended roofline of the Shooting Brake affords more rear headroom than the saloon
  • Shooting Brake's boot is larger than that of the Audi A6 Avant and BMW 5-series Touring
  • Dual-zone climate control another standard-fit item
  • CLS Shooting Brake is limited to 155mph
  • Shooting Brake's throttle map can make it feel less eager than its performance figures suggest
  • Opting for manual gearchanges exposes the gearbox's slightly ponderous nature
  • Turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel develops 261bhp at 3800rpm
  • Understeer builds sooner than you might expect
  • Quick direction changes can upset composure and body control
  • Stuttgart's new fashion wagon shows there's ability beneath the surface

If you find the compromises on cabin practicality that the CLS saloon imposes a little too much to put up with, the Shooting Brake probably won’t win you over. That said, you’re likely to be in the minority. Two of our testers are more than 6ft 3in tall, but only one complained about limited space. And that complaint wasn’t the result of restricted cabin space; it was more about the rather tight door apertures.

The CLS remains if not generously accommodating then roomy enough. Unless you’re very tall indeed, you’ll find just enough headroom in the front and a little more of it in the back than there is in the CLS four-door.

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Mercedes' column-mounted gear selector feels cheap compared to the space-age dials and wands offered by rivals

The driving position is low, and dropping your backside down into it takes a little more care than in most executive wagons on account of the proximity of the pillars. But once you’re in, you’ll find that this is a cabin with so much else going for it. The high fascia and equally high waistline of the car act to cocoon you in what’s a very lavish, luxurious, immaculately hewn cockpit. Quality levels are excellent. And it’s beautifully lit. The optional ambient lighting adds real class after dark, and the footwell lamps for the back seats make it easy to spot items that have tumbled from pockets or bags.

How much space has the roofline extension added? You might be surprised. Although it’s relatively narrow and shallow, the boot is very long up to the rear seatbacks. Mercedes claims that, seats up, there’s more space than in an A6 Avant or 5-series Touring. We can believe it.

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