From £48,570
Is it a coupé pretending to be an estate or vice versa? Either way, the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake is an excellent new offering, albeit a rather pricey one
Matt Burt
19 September 2012

What is it?

The striking Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake blurs the line between coupé and estate, combining the practical roominess and large tailgate of the latter with the sporty styling and stance of the former.

When the original CLS first went on sale in 2004, Mercedes tapped into a hitherto undiscovered demand for four-door coupés. The Stuttgart manufacturer hopes the new CLS Shooting Brake will carve out some more sales space in an ever-fragmenting market.

However, Mercedes is gracious enough to admit that it didn’t invent the shooting brake concept, referencing diverse cars such as the Reliant Scimitar and Volvo 1800 as the inspiration behind this CLS variant.

This car’s development can be traced back to Concept Fascination, unveiled at the Paris motor show in 2008, and Concept Shooting Break ('Break' has since become 'Brake') shown in China two years later.

Based on the CLS platform and sharing that car’s wheelbase and major mechanical attributes, the Shooting Brake is marginally longer than the coupé, but shares that car’s 1416mm height, 1881mm width and 2874mm wheelbase. Something it doesn’t emulate is the price: you’ll have to find an extra £1785 for the Shooting Brake over the coupé.

Although the full engine line-up comprises three petrols and two diesels, only the oil-burners – the 350 CDI tested here and a four-cylinder 250 CDI – and the wildly entertaining twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 AMG model are making it to the UK. We’ll have to do without four-wheel-drive variants, too.

The diesels can be ordered with an optional AMG Sport kit that adds sports suspension and brakes, full LED headlights, sportier bodystyling, an uprated steering wheel and pedals and 19in alloys in the place of the regular 18in items. All that costs an extra £2995 over the standard CLS 350 CDI, or £3010 if you specify the kit on the CLS 250 CDI.

What's it like?

The long bonnet and plunging rear roofline will divide opinion, but there is no denying that the CLS Shooting Brake’s design will turn heads and oozes upmarket appeal. Unsurprisingly, it feels like a well appointed luxury estate on the inside.


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What is less expected is that the slope of that low roof doesn’t impinge on headroom in the rear of the cabin as much as you might imagine. Neither does it have a hugely adverse impact on rearward visibility; the rear screen is a slightly odd shape, but offers an adequate view. Less impressive is the claim that the CLS Shooting Brake seats five; you’ll have to be a child or lithe supermodel to feel comfortable in the narrow middle berth, although other passengers travel in sublime comfort thanks to low-slung leather chairs.

Boot space is generous, with the overall volume ranging from 590 litres to 1550 litres. The seats-up capacity is more than a BMW 5-series Touring and Audi A6 Avant, although both of those cars trump the CLS Shooting Brake on overall boot space.

On the road, it feels remarkably nimble for a car that’s almost five metres long and weighs 1910kg. The rear-drive car’s sporting edge shines through on flowing country roads where, aided by electromechanical power steering that brings a touch of lightness to the car’s feel, it changes direction in a positive, fairly precise way rarely associated with estates.

The ride is at the firm end of comfortable. The CLS Shooting Brake gets air suspension at the rear with a more standard arrangement of springs and dampers up front. Optional semi-active air suspension offers a more cosseting ride all-round, or you can go in the other direction and specify an AMG Sport pack that includes sports suspension and 19in alloys.

In our view the CLS 350 CDI is the pick of the two diesels on offer, even if it costs an extra £3640. Silky smooth and impressively quiet, the three-litre turbocharged V6 is capable of packing a hearty punch when needed. It can cover 0-62mph in 6.6sec (four-tenths slower than the coupé) and serves up plenty of low-end thrust thanks to 457lb ft of torque from 1600rpm. All variants are mated to Merc’s seven-speed automatic transmission, which works better in Sport mode, which can be selected with a push of a button.

Of course, the four-pot oilburner in the CLS 250 CDI offers better economy, with a claimed figure 53.3mpg compared with the 47.1mpg of the CLS350 CDI, but it also sounds and feels less refined and capable, giving a clear impression that it won’t be as adept at carrying big loads as its sibling.

Should I buy one?

Whether you’ll consider the CLS Shooting Brake over a regular estate depends on your practical requirements.

If you need maximum load space and want a car that will withstand the occasional biff, scrape and scratch, Merc’s dependable E-class estate offers a bigger boot, has a rear opening that makes bulky items easier to load and costs about £10,000 less.

However, if you only occasionally lug loads but prefer a sportier drive, a high-quality interior and attention-grabbing styling, the CLS Shooting Brake will hold plenty of appeal. Mercedes is confident there’s a keen market– and they’ve been proved right in the past.

Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 CDI BlueEfficiency Shooting Brake

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Price: £53,000; 0-62mph: 6.6sec; Top speed: 155mph; Economy: 47.1mpg; CO2: 161g/km; Kerb weight: 1910kg; Engine: V6, 2987cc, turbodiesel; Power: 261bhp at 3800rpm; Torque: 457lb ft at 1600-2400rpm; Gearbox: 7-spd automatic

Join the debate


19 September 2012

I like it a lot.

19 September 2012

Autocar wrote:

What is less expected is that the slope of that low roof doesn’t impinge on headroom in the rear of the cabin as much as you might imagine. Neither does it have a hugely adverse impact on rearward visibility; the rear screen is a slightly odd shape, but offers an adequate view.

Assuming a) the tailgate is open and b) you're reversing in a straight line. That 4th pic suggests parallel parking is very close to impossible. Yet Mercedes still have the gall to charge over a grand to have a reversing camera fitted. Unbelievable!

19 September 2012

But then i am pro-mercedes, despite them being very over-engineered in some areas.

19 September 2012

Looks a bit like a Peugot 508 - I am surprised Mercedes managed to pull that look off - I guess they will be mightily pleased with that comparison though. Although I wonder if one with larger rear windows (if they are to offer that option - by no means certain I suppose) would sell better. What is with the wooden floor look though? Very nice for picnics and boating holidays and if one wants to organise some sort of dance contest in the boot. Does one need to varnish/ treat with creosote though?

19 September 2012

Its no doubt a lovely looking car but the slope of the roofline cannot match the severe slope of the side window so it looks like the body and window do not match.

20 September 2012

What a stunning car.

The looks, the performance, the quality,the space and 40+mpg, does it get any better than this for the young family man, or woman.

I can see the total nudging £75.000 plus after extras and the optional wood lined rear deck is a must have.


20 September 2012

Sexyest looking shooting brake ever.

20 September 2012

Is this going to be a one off in the market or are we going to see VAG follow Mercedes again as they did with the original CLS?

This car, though, is stunning.  I love the wooden deck flooring (no matter how impractical that may be) and the picture car certainly suits the light interior.  Could certainly see myself in the V6 engined version when depreciation has hit in a couple of years.

20 September 2012

The interior of this is spot on, the colours and the materials if, only the rest of Mercedes were the same, maybe they could claim they make luxury cars, instead of that sad grey wannabe A-Class.

The rest of it less so, the Honda CRV windowline looks awkward, and having had a Honda I know it will probably make it a real pain in the rear in town at angled junctions, making lane changes and trying to parrallel park. The kink over the rear wheel arch looks as bad as ever, which oddly Dacia have also done (but more subtle) on the new Sandero and have done it alot better.

20 September 2012

...till I see someone trying to park this in a normal size supermarket car parking slot and then see the next metre or so hanging out.

But overall it is a nice looking car.


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