• 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

Mercedes calls the Shooting Brake a special proposition for a special type of customer, one who does not wish to forgo sportiness or luggage space while travelling in style. That statement, and the model’s inflated price, would suggest that the CLS has been compressed into an even smaller niche, but this is a discreetly rewarding grand tourer.

Granted, there are compromises. That slenderised rear is no substitute for a squarer estate back end on outright practicality, and there are quicker, more compelling driver options for less money. But familiar strengths – including its interior class, refinement, amiably effective dynamic and idiosyncratic presence – stand this car well apart. For some, that voguish distance will be insurmountable. As for our affections, they stop short of real fondness. To truly appreciate the Shooting Brake, you probably need to fall in love with its eccentricity long before you drive it.

Matt Saunders

Deputy road test editor
The CLS Shooting Brake trades heavily on core Mercedes strengths, namely class and refinement

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