The Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake is a bit of a mixture. Based on the A-Class Hatchback, the normal CLA is a four-door saloon with the swooping roofline and dramatic looks you’d expect from a coupe. So what does the Shooting Brake bit mean? This is an old term that has come to mean an estate car that puts style on an equal level of importance to practicality. Think of it as a four-door coupe with room for a short dog.
From the windscreen forward, you can clearly see the Shooting Brake is based on the A-Class; not necessarily a bad thing. From the windscreen back, the roof sweeps gently down as it approaches the tailgate which itself is heavily raked. Despite this and a narrow opening, there is a decent amount of space in the boot however back seat passengers may feel a little claustrophobic. Taller occupants in the rear may feel their head brushing against the roof too.
Up front there are no complaints. Despite this being towards the lower end of the Mercedes range, fit and finish is excellent with everything laid out in a logical and easy to understand manner. Some may find the steering wheel column mounted stalk that controls the seven-speed automatic gearbox a little odd (it took some getting used too), but this is normal for Mercedes.
Not only is the interior well put together, it’s a fantastic place to spend time in. Even after a few two hour journeys with plenty of traffic, I was still more than happy to jump back in the Shooting Brake. The infotainment system proved easy to use with its rotary controller although it could be a little slow to respond to inputs at times. The menus were clear and attractive while the sat-nav worked faultlessly though.
A range of petrol and diesel engines are available but I decided to try the most powerful diesel, the 220 d. It’s the same size as the lower powered 200 d at 2.1 litres but here produces 175 bhp to give a brisk 0-62 time of 8.3 seconds. Coupled to a fast acting seven-speed auto, it felt a lot quicker than those numbers suggest. Not only was it quick, it proved capable of around 50mpg on a long trip if you were careful with the throttle.
It was under gentle loads the diesel engine felt most at home. Should you demand hard acceleration, the gearbox could sometimes prove a little too keen to change down a few gears revealing a coarse edge to the diesel motor. It was pretty loud too. There was a ‘sport’ mode but this tended to leave the car in too low a gear which exacerbated the problem. In the end I just left it in ‘eco’ and enjoyed the low to mid-range torque rather than let the engine rev.
As for the handling, the Shooting Brake cornered quickly with little roll but never felt like it was happy to be hustled along. Ride comfort was good on smooth motorways but elsewhere it was less impressive. Despite being fitted with the smallest available wheels, rough surfaces and big bumps caught the suspension out causing a rough ride. I would have happily traded some of that roll resistance in corners for a softer ride.
There’s a lot to love about the CLA Shooting Brake. It’s a good looking take on the estate car while the interior really is quite special. That Mercedes could combine such potent performance with a lack of thirst is impressive too. Unfortunately, while I could live with the narrow boot opening and occasionally noisy engine, the tuning of the car’s suspension really lets it down. At nearly £31,000 before options, it’s also pretty expensive. Even so, I’d still be tempted.
Car – Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 Shooting Brake
Price – £30,930
Power – 175bhp
0-62mph – 8.3 seconds
Top Speed – 142mph
Co2 – 108g/km