Without mentioning any names (cough, Audi A7, ahem, BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé), Mercedes refers to the four-door CLS as a “template for numerous copycat designs” and expects this wagon variant to be the same again. It might have a point. It has had to scratch quite hard to uncover this particular niche, but with a healthy selling price, no niche is too small, if you can reduce development costs by borrowing from elsewhere within the range.

That is precisely what the Shooting Brake does, adding little other than taller bodywork to the rear of the four-door CLS, which itself borrows rather heavily from an E-Class that was renewed not long before the Mk2 CLS’s 2010 introduction.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Chief tester
Big boned? Be wary of whacking your hips or shoulders on entry

We’re still unconvinced that this generation of CLS matches the sleekness and elegance of its predecessor, but the Shooting Brake is arguably an improvement on the saloon. “Every genuine car legend appeals equally to the heart and mind,” says Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche, apparently without any intent to exaggerate.

We wouldn’t put a CLS in the ‘legend’ bracket in its appeal, but it’s attractive enough. The rear overhang borders on the clumsy, in the view of some testers, but just as many were won over by the smooth grace of the upper window line.

The CLS Shooting Brake is the largest car spawned from this platform. Significant use of aluminium in its panels aims to hide that from the scales. It’s just 44mm short of being a five-metre-long car, and 16mm longer than the four-door. Neither E-class saloon (4868mm) nor estate (4895mm) broaches 4.9m, so it is perhaps no surprise that the CLS has a boot capacity of at least 590 litres.

Beneath the skin, the CLS rather more closely mirrors the mechanical layout of the E-Class. Three engine options – two diesels and one petrol – make up the range. Ours was the more powerful diesel, the CLS 350 d. All engines are mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission except the 350 d which is fitted with a nine-speed auto. Suspension is three-link at the front, multi-link at the rear, and while coil springs are standard all round on the CLS saloon, air springs are standard at the rear on Shooting Brakes (with all-round air an option).

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Seat Leon ST Cupra 2.0 TSI 4Drive 300PS DSG
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    Seat's fastest Leon ST is fun to drive quickly and has enough space for all the family, but VW's own Golf R Estate is even better to drive
  • Porsche 911 GT3 manual 2017 review
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    The new 911 GT3 is an excellent machine; does the addition of a manual gearbox make it even better?
  • Skoda Karoq
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    The Yeti has morphed into the Karoq for its second generation, and this early drive reveals a solid, practical small SUV that could challenge the class best
  • Opel Ampera-e
    First Drive
    27 April 2017
    Opel's second-generation Ampera is smaller than the first, and now purely electric. It's also very capable with a remarkable range
  • Lotus Elise Sprint
    First Drive
    27 April 2017
    The latest incarnation of the Elise may be out of its depth on track, but on the public road it is probably the purest version since the original