The origins of the term 'shooting brake' go back a long way but these days it's the moniker usually given to a car crossed with a sporty coupe and a practical estate.
There's not many of them about, but Mercedes Benz fancied having a go at knocking one up by, for all intents and purposes, chucking a load of extra car on to the back of its surprisingly popular CLS coupe-cum-saloon.
Its styling doesn't work from all angles, but the CLS on which it's based is a great platform and this is certainly a very eye-catching car.
The CLS sits in the Mercedes saloon range somewhere between the E Class and the S Class and that basically tells you the level of luxury you should expect inside one. And it's no different in the longer and more practical Shooting Brake.
Whether you'd like to think of it as a down-graded S Class, or an up-market E Class, the cabin is a wonderful place to sit - with all the usual Mercedes trimmings and even the option of massaging seats.
That big extension at the back helps with rear seat headroom and makes for a very useable boot. It's not as big as an E Class load space but more useful than you might expect.
The electrically-lifting tailgate leaves a fairly good aperture for loading, although the floor is quite shallow.
This being marketed as a 'sporty' alternative to the more mundane ranges of estate cars on the market, you'd like to think it drives well. And it really does.
Aside from a slight lack of feel from the steering, this rear wheel drive leviathan benefits greatly from Merc's superb Airmatic suspension and it holds corners beautifully.
Its excellent seven speed gearbox and steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters help with the experience and, you can find yourself having a lot more fun than you might expect.
The range of engines on offer in the CLS Shooting Brake starts with the four-pot diesel 2.2 litre offering found in every other 250 variant of the Mercedes range. While this is the sensible choice, the superb V6 engine in the 350 model will be more to the tastes of those looking for a lump more be-fitting of the CLS brand, as the 250 can be a bit harsh at high revs. Although, saying that, it's quiet at start up and is surprisingly punchy.
For petrol buyers, there's just the bonkers V8 63 AMG version available but, to be honest, the diesel V6 is so good, you'd have to be a hard-nosed thrill-seeker to plump for the top model in this case.
Value for money
This is an important point because, while it will come at no surprise that all this style and luxury comes at a cost, the E Class on which it is based will set you back far less and ultimately deliver a similar experience.
The choice needs to be made on how much you value the gorgeous looks and extra standard equipment that comes with the CLS as it starts at a cat's whisker off 50,000 and will rise happily towards the six-figure mark for the top-spec model with all the boxes ticked.
While the level of equipment on offer is generous, as with any German luxury car there are plenty of ways to add to the cost of buying a CLS Shooting Brake and, as this is a niche model, residual values are uncertain.
However, this is a car for people who want something different and its gorgeous looks and sheer uniqueness come at a cost that may be easy to bear for many.
It may not have the market entirely to itself as other premium brands have been dipping their toes into the sporting estate sector but this is a fine choice for those that don't mind spending a little more to stand out a lot.
The CLS oozes style and, in the right colour, looks beautiful. But it does cost a fair bit more than the more practical E Class Estate and, though it's not small, there are better packaged big cars.
None of this will matter, though, if you're after a modern 'shooting brake' and they might be few and far between, but this is certainly one of the best.
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