Hand-picked February deals End 28/02/2019

New Mercedes AMG CLA 45 Shooting Brake Review

A small – but very fast – practical estate car

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Incredibly quick
  • Better than the saloon
  • No direct rivals
  • Quite expensive
  • Rear leg and head room is tight
  • Swoopy styling restricts boot space

£47,635 - £49,330 Price range

5 Seats

32 MPG


The ’45 AMG’ family already covers plenty of bases – in the form of the A 45 AMG hatchback, CLA 45 AMG saloon and GLA 45 AMG crossover – and now Mercedes wants to go for the home run with (presumably) its final entry: the Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake estate.

Essentially a Mercedes-Benz CLA with a stylish estate-style body, the CLA45 AMG Sporting Brake comes with all the mighty stats we’ve seen before in its sister cars. The impressive figures are made possible by Mercedes’ 355hp, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It joins forces with the company’s 4Motion four-wheel-drive system to rocket the Shooting Brake from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds.

Style takes precedence here so, while the Shooting Brake has an estate-car silhouette, it isn’t as practical as you might think – a small opening and slopping roofline sees to it that the baby estate’s boot is nowhere near as usable as its 495-litre capacity suggests. Rear headroom has increased by 4cm compared to the CLA saloon, however.

What hasn’t changed is the classy interior design, which is dominated by the 5.8-inch colour screen (which seemingly levitates from the dashboard) and three air vents that could have been prised from the interior of the new Mercedes AMG GT. It gives the Shooting Brake the tools it needs to pull customers away from rival brands such as BMW and Audi. Sports seats and racy-red trim distinguish the quick version from cheaper models in the range.

For the time being at least, the car sits in a class of its own, hovering performance and price-wise between junior sports estates including the SEAT Leon ST Cupra and more obvious rivals such as the smaller-booted Audi RS3 Sportback.

So, can mega performance and temporary class exclusivity make up for the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake’s rather steep asking price? Carry on reading our review to find out…

Being the sporty halo model in the CLA Shooting Brake range, the Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake understandably has the most performance-orientated cabin. Alcantara on the dashboard top and the bolstered sports seats all finish off a tastefully upgraded interior, with buyers being able to build on the theme still more with the optional AMG steering wheel (£570) and carbon fibre trim package (£590).

Mercedes CLA45 AMG passenger space

The estate body shell also gives the Shooting Brake an edge over the saloon in terms of rear practicality, with the raised roofline freeing up more space. However, rear legroom is still as restricted here as it is in the saloon and, despite the extra 4cm of head room, it’s also a tight fit for taller passengers in the back.

Mercedes CLA45 AMG boot space

Boot space, thankfully, is substantially improved compared to the CLA45 AMG saloon – not only is the 495 litres more than the larger Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate offers (at 490 litres), but it can also be increased by another 100 litres when the rear seat backs are made more upright. However, the high boot lip and narrow boot opening limit the size of the items you can actually stow away in there.

Even with that monstrously powerful engine under the bonnet stealing the show, it’s the handling that appears to have won over the road testers. Despite the softer suspension set-up (a common adjustment in estate versions of Mercedes AMG models), the CLA 45 Shooting Brake retains the precise steering and impressive grip levels seen on the saloon and hatchback.

The supple suspension seems to have cheered the critics when it comes to ride quality, with one in particular stating the CLA 45 was more resolved and composed over rougher surfaces than even regular Shooting Brake models!

However, there does appear to be one big issue with the CLA45: the overall visibility. Whilst the view out the front is sufficient enough, the small rear windows and thick pillars severely restrict the view out. A reversing camera can be specified, though Mercedes-Benz cheekily charges £300 for it.

Whilst prospective buyers probably won’t pick the Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake purely for its fuel economy, it is worth pointing out this potent performance estate is quite frugal for something with this much pace. A claimed 39mpg is incredibly respectable, especially when you consider its closest rival – the Audi RS3 Sportback – can only return 34mpg.

Of course, what really attracts potential customers to the CLA45 Shooting Brake is its performance. Its delivered thanks to a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, with 360hp and a juicy 335lb ft of torque on tap. Not only does provide impressive straight line speed (0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, and an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph), but – coupled with the four-wheel-drive system – also endows the CLA45 with brisk all-weather pace.

Much like the identical unit found in the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG hatchback, the 2-litre engine in the CLA45 Shooting Brake is also eager to rev (especially at the top end), and has very good throttle response. It is also mated to seven-speed double-clutch gearbox that provides smooth changes and a pleasing cackle from the car’s exhaust during hard acceleration.

The only major criticism, it seems, is that the engine itself doesn’t have that great an engine note, especially in comparison with the thrummy four-cylinder and howling six-cylinder engines in the Subaru WRX STi and BMW M135i respectively.

Since the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake has no real direct competition in this class, it’s very easy to say this car is for you if you’re after a premium finish, decent boot space, and mighty performance for top-tier hot hatchback prices.

The closest competitor the CLA45 Shooting Brake has is the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG, which is essentially a larger SUV version of the A45 AMG hot hatchback. Only when the mighty Volkswagen Golf R Estate goes on sale later this year will the Shooting Brake finally have a direct rival.

That said, even in isolation, the CLA45 AMG is an expensive piece of kit, and that’s  before you start adding the pricier extras. Tick too many boxes on the options list, for instance, and you’ll end up with a small estate car that’s not too far off BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG money.


Despite not having the most brilliant of foundations to work on (the standard CLA45’s critical reception has been fairly mixed, after all), the svelte Mercedes-Benz CLA45 Shooting Brake seems to be quite a well-resolved car that rights most of the wrongs that put so many off the original saloon.

Add in the fact the CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake is (for now) in a class of its own right now, and you have the makings of a very desirable proposition for someone who’s looking for a powerful and (fairly) practical family-sized estate car.

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