Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake

Handsome estate with a good range of engines

6.4
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 9 reviews
  • Desirable CLA styling
  • Extra practicality over saloon
  • Wide range of efficient engines
  • Diesel refinement issues
  • Not as engaging as rivals
  • Not as practical as a proper estate
 

£26,375 - £45,965 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

40 - 68 MPG

Review

The Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake is the German carmaker’s good-looking alternative to a boxy estate car. No rivals can match it on looks, but the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring cost around the same amount, while the Volkswagen Golf estate in its most expensive GT trim is also a decent alternative.

The dashboard is well-made and easy to use, but the quality is not up to the standards of the asking price and neither is the limited rear headroom. However, the Shooting Brake is more spacious than the saloon version making it a much better package overall.

The CLA Shooting brake isn’t as striking to drive as its looks may lead you to believe. The traditional Mercedes comfort has been replaced by sporty firmness, which would be good if the body didn’t feel so nervous on broken surfaces. As a motorway cruiser, though, its hard to fault.

There is a broad range of engine choices for the CLA, but in reality there are only three units with different power levels. Apart from the mad AMG 45 model, the rest of the line-up is more sensible, but diesels in rivals are more refined.

Equipment wise, the entry-level CLA Shooting Brake seems promising with cruise control, an infotainment system, leather sport seats and automatic lights and wipers as standard, but if you take into consideration the high base price it’s not so great for value.

In the front of the cabin, everything is pretty much identical to the CLA and, by extension, the A-Class and the GLA too. That means a very attractive, well-made dash, with three stylish bullseye air vents sitting beneath a display screen, which some testers feel looks like a bit of an afterthought. Materials used are expensive, but there are some low quality plastics still to be found – not good in a £30k Mercedes. Small Audis like the A3 Sportback feel nicer inside.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake passenger space

Upon opening the frameless rear doors, rear passengers will discover an extra 4cm of headroom over the regular CLA. AMG-line versions are equipped with a rear bench that Mercedes call a 2+1 layout – the middle seat is all but sacrificed in order to improve comfort for two.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake boot space

Predictably, boot volume has increased over the regular model, ranging from 495 litres with the rear seats up to 1354 litres when they are folded flat. If you’re carrying four passengers but still need a little bit more boot space, the rear bench can be switched to a more upright “cargo” position, which frees up an extra 100 litres. There is a 12v socket in the rear, a locking boot floor and smart aluminium boot strips can be ticked on the options list for £545 to increase practicality.

In a bid to attract younger buyers, Mercedes equipped the CLA with very firm suspension. So firm, that even on the smallest 16-inch wheels, it’s still not comfortable enough for the UK’s demanding roads. The fact there are two firmer suspension set-ups you can opt for doesn’t help. Combine the firm ride with lifeless steering and things don’t look to good for the CLA. If driving enjoyment is high in your priority list, then the BMW 3 Series is a better choice.

The same range of engines are available in the Shooting Brake as are in the regular CLA and all are turbocharged.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake petrol engines

The entry-level petrol is a 1.6-litre which produces 122hp and helps the CLA accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds. Not the last word in speed, but plenty fast for an entry-level engine and there should be enough pulling power for quick overtakes. Its quoted fuel economy of 55mpg combined is both impressive and hard to achieve in the real world, so we’d recommend going for the 2.0-litre CLA250. It still returns a decent 42.2mpg, but thanks to 211hp it’s much faster to 62mph at 6.9 seconds. It’s the closest you can get to the full-blown AMG model without the huge jump in price.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake diesel engines

The cheapest diesel to buy is the CLA200d, producing 136hp and returning claimed fuel economy of 68.9mpg. It’s decently fast if the car is empty, but with five people and their luggage in, it struggles to move the CLA around at speed. The upside is the cheap £20 annual road tax you’d have to pay – £10 less than the next engine in the range which is the CLA220d. The 220d is in essence the same 2.1-litre diesel as the 200d, but with more power – 175hp. It’s the recommended choice by critics for its reasonable performance without sacrificing fuel consumption – the 220d is able to return 65.7mpg combined. None of the diesels are exactly fast with 0-62mph times of 9.9-8.3 seconds, but if you want speed there’s always the CLA45 AMG that gets from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds.

The CLA Shooting Brake hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but the car it’s based on – the A-Class – easily scored the maximum five stars in 2014.

The CLA should be equally safe thanks to its huge range of passive and active safety systems such as the Attention Assist that monitors if the driver is about to nod off and vibrates the steering wheel to alert him or her.

Mercedes has also fitted the latest version of its Collision Prevention Assist technology as standard. It warns the driver of an impending head on collision, and if they do not react in time, will apply the brakes, in the hope of avoiding the accident altogether, or reducing its severity. Mercedes believes this system could reduce serious rear-end shunts by up to 30 per cent.

As a practical car, the Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake isn’t the best value, but you also pay for the styling and the badge as well.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake Sport

Standout equipment on this entry-level trim includes parking sensors to help with the limited rear visibility, fuel-saving start/stop technology, Artico leather sports seats plus a seven-inch iPad style screen for the infotainment system.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake AMG Sport

If you like the aggressive styling of the CLA45 AMG but can’t afford the running costs, then the AMG Sport is just for you. You get AMG branded everything – wheels, bumpers, suspension and lots of badges. Furthermore the Artico artificial leather is replaced by real leather and the adaptive bi-Xenon headlights do a really good job of lighting the road ahead.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake OrangeArt

In addition to the regular Sport and AMG Line trim lines, Mercedes is offering a limited run of the OrangeArt Edition model. Based on the AMG Line trim, it is distinguished by orange highlights on the 18-inch alloy wheels, headlights, grille and seats, which, surprisingly, isn’t as garish as it sounds.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake facelift

The 2016 CLA Shooting Brake facelift will feature new front and rear bumpers and the option of LED headlights and new 18-inch alloy wheels. The interior doesn’t feature any noticeable changes over the current model. Final prices and an official release date will probably be announced at the 2016 New York Auto Show.

Conclusion

From a practical point of view, the Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake isn’t great – with among the smallest load-bays in class, limited rear passenger space and few storage areas. A VW Golf in GT trim will walk over it when it comes to practicality. But from a fashionable point of view the CLA is among the best-looking estate cars you can buy. So if you need something stylish that can occasionally swallow half a wardrobe, then the CLA Shooting Brake could be the car for you.

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