• 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

Accounting for wheel size, Comfort or standard suspension tune and optional all-corner air suspension, there are more than 10 different rolling specifications for this CLS. The one that Mercedes chose for our test car wasn’t the one we’d have asked for (19s, standard suspension). But within a few hundred metres, it showed that Mercedes’ dynamic priorities for this car were the right ones.

Those who look for a supple ride from their big Benz won’t be disappointed. Low-slung and exotic it may be, but the CLS Shooting Brake is pleasingly gentle and compliant. The secondary ride of our test car could have been better; those 30-profile rear M&S tyres do create a bit of roar, as well as the occasional thump over sharper edges. But you’ll give the car the benefit of the doubt, given the way it glides through larger dips and over cattle grids, for example, holding occupant comfort paramount at all times. Mercedes has done an excellent job of matching the ride characteristics of the coil springs on the front with the air springs on the rear. The ride is flat and harmonious, and absorbent at all times.

It's not the last word in driver thrills, but the CLS is accurate, secure and satisfying

It can still hunker down and take a corner, though. The CLS has direct and incisive steering and can be hauled into an apex much more easily than an equivalent E-class. Grip is well balanced between the axles and it’s a generally accurate and quietly rewarding drive. When really pushed, you can find faults with its handling, but they’re not big enough faults to discredit what is a particularly fine grand tourer.

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