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

Top 5 Mid-size execs

  • The Jaguar XF is a sublime British executive saloon. It has a tremendous interior and even greater dynamics

    Jaguar XF

    1
  • Superb engine and cabin, but ride and handling let the side down

    BMW 5-series

    2
  • Mercedes-Benz E-Class
    The E-class more than lives up to traditional Mercedes values

    Mercedes-Benz E-Class

    3
  • Audi A6
    The Audi A6 is a car that delivers in every area

    Audi A6

    4
  • The Lexus GS is unusual in the part of the market in not offering a diesel option

    Lexus GS

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    1 September 2015
    Kia has developed a better-mannered, more sophisticated Sportage for 2016
  • First Drive
    31 August 2015
    Thought the 3 Series was losing its edge? Well it's back, with a facelifted version that offers improved performance and dynamics. Does it reclaim its top spot after our drive on UK roads?
  • First Drive
    27 August 2015
    BMW gives its flagship 7 Series an extensive overhaul in a bid to tempt buyers of luxury cars away from the Mercedes S-Class, Audi's A8 and the Jaguar XJ
  • First Drive
    26 August 2015
    New Qashqai rival majors on practicality and usability and benefits from a long warranty, but lower-specification versions are the better bet
  • First Drive
    26 August 2015
    Go-faster Bentley Continental feels effortlessly quick despite its considerable weight