Nic Cackett
10 December 2012

What is it?

The range-topping version of Mercedes' new Shooting Brake lineup — the estate version of the slinky CLS. Like its four-door compatriot, it gets AMG’s formidable 5.5-litre biturbo V8, which develops 550bhp in UK spec (the Continentals have to make do with a paltry 518bhp as standard).

The engine is hooked up to the familiar Speedshift MCT seven-speed automatic transmission, and is capable of returning 28mpg on a combined cycle. More interestingly, it’ll also manage to whisk all 1955kg to 62mph in just 4.3 seconds before finding the limiter at 155mph.

As before, AMG’s adaptive Ride Control offers three damping modes for the standard sports suspension. The front axle is 56mm wider than the conventional car and gets steel springs, while the rear benefits from a self-leveling air-sprung setup.

Outside, the Shooting Brake’s new silhouette gets the usual AMG embellishments – including radiator grille and bonnet design – while the inside adds sports seats, black piano lacquer trim and a rather wonderful three-spoke steering wheel clad in Nappa leather.

What is it like?

The manufacturer claims that it’s combining performance, style and usability in a completely fresh way, but were you sat across the dealership in an E63 AMG estate, a car with a smaller price tag, shared underpinnings and far more space where it counts (ie in the back), you could be forgiven for thinking that the car’s new clothes really are only fit for the most self-aggrandising emperor.

And yet... Circle it slowly, sympathetically, and it’s hard not to fall into the gravitational pull of its design orbit. If the original CLS was meant as a style antidote to the E-class’s cheese-grater cuboid, the latest Shooting Brake is the ultimate emollient to the estate’s bulky derriere. Tapering the rear may have chiseled a colossal 400 litres from the comparative total loadspace, but the visual effect, like the rest of the model’s leap-forward motif, is considerable.

Similarly, AMG’s bi-blown V8 is probably the perfect remedy for the car’s very real weight problem. Like all AMGs equipped with the firm’s seven-speeder there’s an innate reticence in manual downshifts, which makes paddle-shifting this Goliath far less of a pleasure than it should be, although it makes a far better fist of its duties when left to its own devices. Arguably, the default Comfort mode is too sluggardly for the chassis’ natural potency, but there is something appealing about having to wind the baritone engine into a crank-frenzy from the standing start of a lazier throttle map. Sport gives a superior mix of response and ratio selection, and makes a mockery of the Shooting Brake’s 85kg weight penalty over the regular CLS.

Where you want to position the adjustable dampers on AMG’s Ride Control is a thornier issue. As with most of its brethren, the CLS63’s ride quality, even at its most doughy setting on standard 19-inch wheels, is hardly imperious on UK roads. Some of the older spines destined to appear on the waiting list might expect better bump-eating pliancy for their investment, but our usual rebuke is hamstrung by the Shooting Brake’s capacity to translate its enduring rigidity into duly engrossing agility.

Naturally, space and isolation are required to throw almost five meters of Mercedes around with abandon, but find the right stretch of road and exuberant chassis poise and progressive eight-pot delivery bubbles  to the surface. Throw in traction-deficient winter tyres and an optional limited-slip rear differential, and the CLS63 becomes a two-tonne arcade game with quick, springy steering to match.

Should I buy one?

The Shooting Brake’s capacity for such hooliganism, along with the broader, everyday capability for an enlivening cross-country drive, has already made AMG’s ’63’ generation a spectacular vintage, and leaves you with more affection for the car than would normally be appropriate for such a paunchy tribute to Germanic excess. Truthfully, it’s rather hard not to get a little wrapped up in the bare-cheeked brilliance of it all. If you can make your peace with the limited loadspace and attribute the gearbox’s ponderousness and comfort shortfall to mere personality quirks, then there is a huge quantity of car here to enjoy.Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG Shooting BrakePrice: £83,030; 0-62mph: 4.3sec; Top speed: 155mph; Economy: 28mpg; CO2: 235g/km; Kerb weight: 1955kg; Engine type, cc: V8, 5461cc, biturbo, petrol; Power: 550bhp at 5250rpm; Torque: 590lb ft at 2000-4500rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd automatic; Fuel tank: 80 litres; Boot: 590 litres; Wheels: 19-inch alloy; Tyres: 255/35 (f), 285/30 (r)

Join the debate

Comments
10

The original CLS was meant as

1 year 49 weeks ago

The original CLS was meant as a style antidote to the E-Class’s cheese-grate cuboid and the latest Shooting Brake is the ultimate emollient to the estate’s bulky derriere? Is there an article somewhere beneath all the impenetrable banter?

REPLACING EVERY ADJECTIVE WITH AN OBSCURE ONE DOES NOT MAKE FOR AN ENJOYABLE READ.

ThwartedEfforts

1 year 49 weeks ago

ThwartedEfforts wrote:

The original CLS was meant as a style antidote to the E-Class’s cheese-grate cuboid and the latest Shooting Brake is the ultimate emollient to the estate’s bulky derriere? Is there an article somewhere beneath all the impenetrable banter?

REPLACING EVERY ADJECTIVE WITH AN OBSCURE ONE DOES NOT MAKE FOR AN ENJOYABLE READ.

 

"I fear the lady doth protest too much." 

This car is fantastic sitting still, on billiard surfaces its also a cool customer - though if I'm honest I prefer the 'cheese grater' E-class estate, its got that wife pleasing, dog pandering ability to whisk you wherever you wish. The CLS, brilliant as it maybe is too stylish to be a practical family wagon... that said, who cares?! Its a hoot to drive and I love the snug driving position - now if we can just get rid of that stupid clock in the dashboard!

ThwartedEfforts

1 year 49 weeks ago

I would have more respect for you opinions if you had the ability to state them without resorting to swearing.

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

R32

BREVITY please!

1 year 49 weeks ago

I agree - this journalist's style of writing is not the easiest to read or digest. He did the same thing with the Aston Martin V12 Volante article - trying too hard to use obscure words when more familiar words would suffice (and in some cases be more appropriate). He also tries too hard to construct large sentences when he could say the same thing with far less words.

To use a word popular with the Speaker of the House of Commons: BREVITY please Mr Cackett.

As for the CLS63, I couldn't be bothered to fully decode the article but it looks nice.....

Well penned Mr C

1 year 49 weeks ago

Not a great fan of the car but thoroughly enjoyed this witty article steeped in metaphorical chicanery. Brevity my arse!

Optional Extra

1 year 49 weeks ago

What about the boat-deck wood flooring in the rear?

Fnck

1 year 49 weeks ago

Frightmare Bob wrote:

I would have more respect for you opinions if you had the ability to state them without resorting to swearing.

I have no interest in your opinion of my opinion, so it looks like we're quits.

I do find it amazing that some eejit at Haymarket Towers is sufficiently concerned about propriety and decorum in these forums to jump in to remove a common word you can hear on any national TV channel after 8pm, and yet at the same time they leave the place littered with messages from commercial spammers and the 1950s racism of our resident fruitcake Ken.

You could not make it up. Unlike Nic Cackett who is, I swear, Troy Queef incarnate.

Button fest!

1 year 49 weeks ago

I've counted 60 at least on the drivers side alone!,oh, the car, it's not bad, side view is it's worst.

Peter Cavellini.

Bitter....

1 year 49 weeks ago

ThwartedEfforts wrote:

The original CLS was meant as a style antidote to the E-Class’s cheese-grate cuboid and the latest Shooting Brake is the ultimate emollient to the estate’s bulky derriere? Is there an article somewhere beneath all the impenetrable banter?

REPLACING EVERY ADJECTIVE WITH AN OBSCURE ONE DOES NOT MAKE FOR AN ENJOYABLE READ.

 

Do you realise how bitter you sound?

Where has all this hate come from?

 

It looks nice, but E-Classe

1 year 36 weeks ago

It looks nice, but E-Classe is definitely worth the money difference

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Our Verdict

Can the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG provide sensationally entertaining, as well as civilised, executive transport?

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