CarsMotormouth Reviews

Mercedes’ sexy new estate is a Brake from the norm

The new Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake is a great mix of style and practicality
The new Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake is a great mix of style and practicality

Let’s talk about estates. The bewilderment when I tell people they are my favourite style of car is priceless. What are you, a sales rep? And that’s the attitude many will have of the once boxy load luggers – but how times have changed.

When the crossover offered families an alternative to the family saloon or hatch, the mighty estate was overlooked, even though it offered the practicality they desired.

Many manufacturers have estates that are as good looking, if not better looking, then their hatch siblings. Take the Skoda Superb or Hyundai’s i40 – both are better-looking cars in estate guise.

Mercedes-Benz has a rich history of making good estate cars. The booted versions of the C-Class and E-Class are fine machines, but they didn’t appeal to the younger buyer that Mercedes craved.

A new generation of compact cars offered by Mercedes has seen a swing to the younger buyer, while still retaining the loyal customer base of the C, E and S-Class models. 

The five smaller models that have changed buyers’ perceptions of the Mercedes brand are the A-Class, B-Class, CLA Coupe, GLA SUV, and the latest – and in my opinion, best of the bunch – the stunning CLA Shooting Brake.

Mercedes has given the CLA Coupe more practicality and made possibly the best-looking estate car money can buy. Motormouths loved the CLA, but it lacked a little space for both rear passengers and luggage, with its sleek design being worth the compromise.

The CLA Shooting Brake not only retains the beautiful design, but it addresses the issue of space and is now a package that will attract the young family who would never have thought of an estate car. The Shooting Brake has the practicality needed for families but doesn’t compromise space over style.

The failings of many estate cars include the big chunky rear end, but the CLA Shooting Brake has a coupe-like design to the rear and has no real direct competition. It’s another niche motor that Mercedes has delivered.

The pictures don’t do it justice as it is a much nicer car in the flesh. Whatever angle you look at it, it is stunning. The interior has been carried over from its coupe sibling and has a modern feel, as well as having a premium finish.

It feels a lot more spacious and headroom for those in the back has increased by 4cm, and this is a noticeable improvement, as the coupe version feels a little cramped in the back. 

Boot capacity is very important for estate cars and the CLA Shooting Brake offers 495 litres with the seats in place. With the seats folded you get 1,354 litres.

The engine line-up consists of two diesels and three petrol units. Mercedes expects the volume seller to be the CLA 200 CDI 4-cylinder, 2.2-litre, 136hp delivering 4.1-litres/100km fuel consumption, and falling into tax band A3, €190. It starts from €36,125. The more powerful 177bhp CLA220 CDI falls into the same tax bracket and starts from €40,195. Petrols start at €31,490 for the 1.6-litre, 122hp CLA180 rising to €65,860 for the CLA 45 AMG with 320bhp from its 2.0-litre petrol.

I tested the 220CDI and it feels exactly like it does in any of the other Mercedes cars. It has plenty of power with 177bhp and the ride is smooth and comfortable. I didn’t get the chance to really push the diesel as the city streets in Frankfurt didn’t offer much breathing space. 

I can’t help feel the new 1.6 diesel that Mercedes has in its inventory would be the perfect match for the CLA but there’s no word of that coming any time soon. 

I also had a blast in both the C250 (211bhp) and the amazing CLA 45 AMG. The C250 felt smooth with plenty of power but I was blown away by the performance and noise of the range-topping AMG model. How Mercedes has managed to squeeze 360bhp from a 2.0-litre petrol is beyond me.

The AMG will be a rare car in Ireland, but the diesel CLA Shooting Brake with the AMG pack looks awesome. For those looking at something that offers the practicality families need, don’t just settle for a crossover, take a closer look at the CLA Shooting Brake to see what you’ve been missing in the world of estate cars. You’ll thank me for it.

Paul Keown