The CLA Shooting Brake feels like a good idea in need of better execution. Plugging the gap between the hatchback and estate with something better looking and more desirable than either is niche product design everyone can get behind.

A similar tack produced the superb CLS Shooting Brake, but here – not least due to a below-par engine and gearbox – is something alternative and appealing on the face of it but undercooked underneath.

Inventive and handsome but not such a pretty thing to drive

With more elegant, alluring styling, more balanced and rounded handling and a more supple ride, this car answers some the criticisms we had of the CLA saloon – but not enough of them.

Like its four-door sister car, it fails to offer competitive passenger space – and, while fairly frugal, it is much too unrefined and undistinguished on performance to justify its lofty price tag.

It gets a warmer welcome to our rankings than the CLA saloon, then, but only by half a star. In order for Mercedes to challenge those with a higher rating, they would need to revisit the auto ‘box, refine the engine range further and improve rear passenger space.

All of this means that the CLA Shooting Brake falls short of the solid, flawlessly laid out and good to drive Volkswagen Golf Estate, and the Audi A3 Sportback and Volvo V40 hatchbacks.


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