From £48,5707
Elegant, alluring and with some welcome improvements, but not good enough to lead the class

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake

Does the five-door Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake have the substance to back its style?

What is it?

A reboot for the big-booted version of Mercedes’ enduringly alluring CLS. Both the four-door version and this, the Shooting Brake, had the car-industry equivalent of a visit to Harley Street earlier this year, with new headlights, grille and bumpers being grafted on, along with some mid-cycle revisions to their interiors. 

The engine range has been updated and a nine-speed automatic gearbox fitted to selected derivatives, among them this six-cylinder 350 Bluetec version we're driving. As a result, it qualifies for three per cent lower benefit in kind tax than its predecessor.

Mercedes has also taken the opportunity to cut the CLS’s list price, with this version of the car coming to market for almost £1600 less than the old 350 CDI – without accounting for added standard equipment.

What's it like?

To these eyes, there’s no more visually persuasive argument not to buy a more conventional executive option than the CLS Shooting Brake. The elongated silhouette and gently curving roofline look so graceful and utterly distinctive they’ll have you convinced all by themselves, before you’ve really considered the extra passenger space and cargo room the car provides. Comparisons with the likes of the Porsche Panamera and Audi A7 only make the Benz look better.

On the inside, only the new eight-inch display for the ‘Comand Online’ multimedia system really strikes you, although there’s a new steering wheel and some subtle differences to the switchgear and upholstery. The bigger display is welcome – although there seems to be a lot of wasted space around the edges of the screen – likewise the added connected media functionality, which allows you to update social media and browse the web from the car.

The nine-speed gearbox is Mercedes’ own, and it suits both the CLS and the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine very well. It shifts smoothly without hunting for the perfect ratio as you feed in power and has a knack for keeping the engine spinning between 2000 and 3000rpm where its best work is done. 

Flexing your right foot conjures a strong, unhurried response. Unfortunately, keeping it pinned to the carpet reveals how much progress Mercedes still has to make with its headline V6 diesel, compared with its German premium-brand rivals. The 3.0-litre unit doesn’t like to rev, and begins to feel asthmatic above 3500rpm – from where the Volkswagen Group’s BiTDI will keep pulling for another 1000rpm or more. That the engine produces fully 20 per cent less peak power than, say, Audi’s equivalent A7 is disappointing enough on its own but, if anything, the way that power is produced is the bigger issue.

The car’s blend of comfort and sporting poise suits it well. Using (standard) self-levelling air springs on the rear-end in place of steel coils, the Shooting Brake rides considerably better than the four-door CLS and handles B-roads with assured competence at cross-country speeds. The car is nicely balanced through a bend, although its air-sprung rear end could handle quick changes of direction better. Its low-speed ride could also be improved, feeling quite firm and fussy.

Should I buy one?

The Shooting Brake remains a powerfully appealing car that’s as classy to spend time in as almost any big Benz. The new transmission and infotainment system refine its act further, while to drive, the car plays both grand tourer and sporting entertainer convincingly. 

However, in the year of its tenth birthday, the CLS has fallen off the pace a little too far to be considered a class-leading car. The Porsche Panamera Diesel now offers more athletic performance and handling than Mercedes can match with its old-fashioned 350 Bluetec engine, and while the Audi A7 BiTDi doesn’t have the CLS’s charm, it more than makes up for that in other ways. 

It’s still easy to make a case for the Shooting Brake, provided you like it. Regardless, you’d have to concede that, until Mercedes does more to bring the car’s engine range up to date, picking a CLS means choosing style over substance.

Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Bluetec AMG Line Shooting Brake

Price £51,400; 0-62mph 6.6sec; 
Top speed 152mph; 
Economy 49.6mpg
; CO2 149g/km; 
Kerb weight 1935kg
; Engine V6, 2987cc, turbodiesel
 Power 255bhp at 3600rpm; 
Torque 457lb ft at 1600-2400rpm; 
Gearbox 9-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
8

16 December 2014
Outside, I like the look of this. Inside, they continue to ruin it with a cheap after market looking tablet stuck on. It just looks nasty.

16 December 2014
...of the styling, it looks like something squeezed out of toothpaste tube. As for the interior styling, I am clearly not en vogue because to me this is a tarts handbag. All fur coat and no knickers. Better than the trim in some other lower Mercs but still a bit to blingy.

16 December 2014
However, it is much better looking than the Porsche and marginally better looking than the Audi. Honestly, if you are going to spend this kind of money, you may as well go for a big petrol anyway over a diesel especially as Boris is wanting to push Dr. Otto overboard again.

16 December 2014
inside and out.

16 December 2014
It's not turned ugly all of a sudden but it's not as graceful as the original which still has the best design of any of these big 4 door coupe's to my eye's. All of them look a bit awkward in some shape or form bar the M6 Gran Coupe for some reason. As for the horrible stuck on tablet thingy which Mercedes are insisting on plastering to the dash of all their cars I can't believe for one minute that they asked enough real people what they though of it because no one seems to be taken by it. Shame really as all they need is a little form rather than being squared off to help them look more integrated with the dash

16 December 2014
Not a fan,looks to big judging by the driver,no amount of of electronic intervention is going to hide the weight of the car.

Peter Cavellini.

16 December 2014
Owned a CLS 350 for 2 months last year. The CPU failed completely twice in the space of 2 weeks. The second time nearly causing a pile up on a busy dual carriageway in the rush hour. After the car had been with the main Mercedes-Benz dealer for 4 weeks they decided they could not be sure if they had fixed the problem so tried to give the car back to me. I rejected the car got my money back (after quite a fight) and bought my 10th BMW instead. I will never buy another Mercedes-Benz as long as I live,

16 December 2014
At least the last one had an elegant dashboard with a chunky piece of wood across. This one is back to standard issue Mercedes.

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