Given that the Shooting Brake shares its wheelbase and overall length with the CLA saloon and isn’t likely to match a more conventional wagon on outright boot space due to that steeply raked tailgate, we should first address how much estate car there really is on offer here.
Front-row occupant space is certainly competitive but, moving backwards, our tape measure recorded 660mm of typical rear leg room and just under 900mm of second-row head room.
The latter is particularly disappointing, given the 40mm gain claimed by Mercedes compared with the CLA saloon (which measured up almost identically for us on head room).
Regrettably, the difference made to the CLA’s passenger-carrying abilities is negligible. Integrated headrests and pronounced bolstering for the outer seats makes the back row useful for two occupants only – and smaller occupants at that.
Once you’re in, larger adults will find the car tighter on both knee room and head room than plenty of conventional five-door hatchbacks in the compact premium class.
But looking at the cargo bay will give prospective CLA Shooting Brake owners better news. Outright volume is about 100 litres shy of the estate car norm, at 495 litres with the seats in place and up to the window line. But that bald statistic actually does little to describe the usable space available.
Compared with, say, a Volvo V40 hatchback, the CLA Shooting Brake provides an additional 250mm of loading length behind the seatbacks. The car’s tapered hatchback and consequently narrow loading lip could make accommodating bulky items tricky, but there’s good boot width inside it, while 60/40 folding rear seatbacks split conveniently in order to make optimal through-loading space in a right-hand drive car (which you don’t get, incidentally, in an Audi A3 Sportback).
The rest of the CLA Shooting Brake’s cabin is carried over mostly unchanged from the saloon. You get slightly narrow but comfortable sports seats as standard and some appealing design touches such as red-accented instrument needles, wave-look silver fascia trim and feature air vents. The car’s driving position is good, save for a minor pedal offset, and its material quality levels are high.
It’s not often we get a chance to test a Mercedes that isn’t fitted with its full-house Comand multimedia navigation system, but the CLA Shooting Brake afforded one.