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

Chief tester
The CLS Shooting Brake trades heavily on core Mercedes strengths, namely class and refinement

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