£48,580 - £87,525 Price range
28 - 56 MPG
Most people will buy the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake on one factor alone: Its looks. Thats why people bought the original CLS and it’s why people buy the current model, despite the E-Class Estate offering greater practicality at a lower price.
There’s no shame in that though, and the Shooting Brake does have talents beyond mere aesthetics. For many reviewers, its small extra outlay over the CLS saloon is more than worth it for a sliver more practicality and even better lines.
Cheapest to buy: CLS 220d Sport diesel
Cheapest to run: CLS 220d Sport diesel
Fastest model: CLS 63 S AMG petrol
Most popular: CLS 63 S AMG petrol
Things are as good as identical to the regular CLS in here – save for unique (and hugely expensive – £4k!) optional extras like cherry wood decking for the load area – yacht-like and very swish. The rest of the interior is praised for its quality though, with a luxurious look and feel and loads of equipment.
Despite the comments on lower practicality, there’s still 590 litres of boot space – larger than an Audi A6 Avant, and bigger than the CLS saloon. A few testers note that it’s a slightly awkward space owing to the wheel arches, and the sloping roofline means the automatic tailgate has a relatively small aperture. Rear seat space is good enough for adults, but another consequence of the car’s sleek styling is a slightly claustrophobic feel to the rear bench.
The CLS driving experience depends very much on which engine you opt for – more of which below – but it’s still an impressive vehicle in any guise. The AMG is “joyously bonkers”, the 350 CDI effortlessly fast and the 250 CDI “an excellent all-rounder”. It’s less sporting than the equivalent BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe, but testers say there’s plenty of grip.
The CLS Shooting brake really majors on refinement, though this is hampered a little by the 250 CDI’s engine. There are also concerns with the Airmatic front suspension, which is both crashy and a bit roly-poly at the same time. This is a car better with heavier engines, taking the edge off bumps. Whether on motorway or back-road though, it has a “whisper quiet” interior on the move.
Just three powerplants are available in the Shooting Brake – a 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel badged 250 CDI, a larger three-litre V6 diesel named 350 CDI, and the CLS 63 AMG rocketship with its 5.5-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine. The latter is as ludicrous as it sounds and as beloved as in any other Mercedes, and while its running costs will eliminate it from most drivers’ company car lists, a select few will love every moment of it.
The diesels are much more sensible, most grown-up of all being the 250 CDI. Several drivers have words to say about its lack of refinement – the four-pot can get a bit raucous with “graunches, growls and thrashes under acceleration”, but others praise its respectable performance and 50 mpg plus economy. The 350 CDI is nicer, quicker and more refined, but less frugal at 47 mpg, and more expensive.
It's not these factors that let it down though - instead, it's the four-cylinder engine's refinement. "Under heavy acceleration the coarse engine note is no match for the sweeter-sounding six-cylinder", explains one reviewer. It isn't as quick either, just sneaking under 8 seconds to 62 mph. A worthy purchase, but not the best CLS Shooting Brake.
While it doesn't have the outright beans of the AMG, its 6.6-second 0-62 mph time is hardly one to scoff at, and it hits the same 155 mph top speed - yet returns a claimed 47.1 mpg combined, making it a great deal cheaper to run.
There are huge reserves of torque and while testers say the weight blunts performance a little, you'll never really be lacking in shove. The rest of the time, the V6 diesel and its seven speed auto gearbox are smooth and relaxing.
0-62 mph is dealt with in just 4.4 seconds and it'll hit the limiter at the typical 155 mph, but the AMG is as much about the feeling of the performance as it is the numbers.
Descriptions range from "very, very fast" to "indecently quick". Testers say it has a "Jekyll and Hyde" character, refined and burbly at low revs but ready to play when you sink the right pedal, and while the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission can be a bit clunky around town, it's excellent on the open road. Officially it'll do 28 mpg, but few are likely to match that if they're prone to having fun...
As you’d hope from a Mercedes, the safety spec is very impressive. There are airbags all over the place, and stability control and Attention Assist – which advises the driver to take a break when they’re feeling drowsy – are standard across the range.
Mercedes Pre Safe is too: a system that applies the brakes in an emergency stop if it feels the driver has not reacted quickkly enough (or at all). Add in the excellent LED lighting that allows you to see potential hazards at night sooner and this is certainly a car that will bring on warm, fuzzy feelings of safety.
It’s not great here – pick a popular model like the 350 CDI and you’ll pay just over £53,000. An similarly-engined E-Class Estate can cost under £40,000, and even opting for a highly-specified one won’t get you anywhere near the CLS Shooting Brake. In comparison to the regular CLS saloon/coupe though, it’s better value – and most reckon it’s worth the extra grand or so.
Better still, strong Mercedes residuals means it won’t lose much money compared to some rivals, and the relatively frugal engines do mean that you’ll save some cash at the pumps.
You can, of course, save a little dosh by opting for the regular CLS here, but the extra prestige of the Shooting Brake and a handful of extra features (automatic tailgate, rear air suspension) means it there are still reasons to choose it over its coupe/saloon counterpart.
The Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake gets very good reviews from the experts, and as long as you accept that you’re buying it not for practicality but for style, then it’s worth the thousands extra over an E-Class. It’s also probably the most stylish wagon on the market, and endowed with all the usual Mercedes qualities like luxury and refinement that appeal to heart as much as head.
Just don’t buy one if you seriously need to carry stuff!
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