The Shooting Brake is the final new body style to be based on the company's front-drive architecture. It is already on sale in the UK, with first deliveries planned for later this month.
The compact estate’s dramatic styling follows closely in the mould of the CLS Shooting Brake and puts greater emphasis on style than outright carrying capacity.
Despite the dramatic curves of the tailgate and the swooping roofline, the seats-up load capacity of the 4.6m-long Shooting Brake improves on that of the CLA saloon by 25 litres, at 495 litres, rising to 1354 litres with the rear seats folded.
The decision to put this body style into production arguably gives Mercedes a handy advantage over its rivals in the premium compact market, because neither the Audi A3 nor the BMW 1-series offers anything similar. On the downside, however, Mercedes was late to market with a compact SUV model.
The CLA Shooting Brake is very closely aligned with the CLA saloon. Mercedes UK says that as well as being identical up to the rear seats, its pricing and specification line-up will be very similar.
There are four trim levels: Sport, AMG Sport, Engineered by AMG, and AMG. In addition, there is a special-edition model called Orange Art.
At launch, the engine line-up consists of two diesel options and four petrols. The most efficient option in the launch line-up, the CLA200 CDI, returns up to 72.4mpg, with CO2 emissions of 101g/km.
A further two diesel engines, the CLA200 CDI 4Matic and CLA220 CDI 4Matic, will arrive in September next year. The four-wheel-drive CLA250 4Matic model will be offered only in Engineered by AMG spec.
The biggest differences in standard specification and available options are that the Shooting Brake gets an electric tailgate as standard and the option of a load compartment package, which includes a lockable boot floor and aluminium load rails.
A new CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake, powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine developing 355bhp and 332lb ft, has also been revealed. The engine is described by Mercedes as being the most powerful four-cylinder unit in series production.
The CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake is able to reach 62mph in 4.7sec and has a limited top speed of 155mph. The model will make its debut at the Geneva motor show in March next year, with UK sales due to start at the same time.
Prices are expected to start at around £25,500 and rise to just over £43,000 for the CLA45 AMG version.
Speaking to Autocar at the Detroit show, Mercedes-Benz chief designer Gorden Wagener said: "It is very much a designer's style of car - a very sporting estate that's so much more emotional than a traditional wagon. The CLA Shooting Brake is so expressive, yet has almost the space of a C-class estate."
"Pushing Shooting Brakes is part of the strategy of how we are changing the brand through design - they generate a lot of interest get people in showrooms. They may end up buying something else - but the Shooting Brake is desirable, do desirable that it can pull younger people in."
In some parts of the world, the CLA Shooting Brake wins up to 80 per cent of its owners from other brands. Owners are also some 20 years younger than traditional Mercedes buyers.