Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake estate (2012-2018)
"If you want space, style and comfort – and have the money to pay for it – the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake is in a class of its own"
- Extremely quiet on the move
- AMG version is outrageously fast
- Big boot considering the sleek shape
- Expensive list prices
- Slow automatic gearbox
- Not as spacious as an E-Class estate
The Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake is the first car of its kind – a four-door coupe crossed with an estate. Although it looks like nothing else on the road, rivals include the BMW 5 Series Touring and the Jaguar XF Sportbrake.
Based on the Mercedes CLS saloon, the Shooting Brake adds a much bigger 590-litre boot but maintains a long and low roofline so it appears sporty despite the impressive space inside.
Engine choices include four and six-cylinder diesels, as well the powerful top-of-the-range CLS 63 AMG, with a 549bhp 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol. Smooth, quiet and easy to drive, the CLS Shooting Brake is perfect for the style-conscious buyer who still needs space for the whole family.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Splash out on the top-of-the-range Mercedes CLS 63 AMG and your running costs will go through the roof. Mercedes claims the 5.5-litre V8 engine will return fuel economy of around 28mpg, but in reality you're unlikely to get anywhere near that.
However, the two diesel models are far more efficient, especially the four-cylinder Mercedes CLS 220 BlueTEC, which was added to the range in 2014 and can return 56.5mpg while emitting 132g/km of CO2. The faster CLS 350 BlueTEC version isn't far behind either, with economy and emissions of just over 50mpg and 142g/km, respectively.
Servicing costs are reasonable and with fixed prices for jobs like changing brake pads, you'll know where you stand if anything needs replacing.
Engines, drive & performance
The first thing to point out is that the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake feels virtually identical to the standard CLS saloon to drive, despite weighing around 15kg more. The steering is light but reacts quickly to turns, and while the body rolls around a bit in corners, the overall balance of the car is excellent.
The CLS 220 BlueTEC diesel model is fast enough and virtually silent both on the motorway and around town. It can sound coarse on full throttle, though, and the six-cylinder Mercedes CLS 350 BlueTEC is much better in this respect.
The seven-speed automatic gearbox can occasionally be slow to react, but that sums up the CLS Shooting Brake's character – a laid-back car that's easy to drive. There's also a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox, but it's only available on the CLS 350 BlueTEC.
Interior & comfort
Unlike BMWs, which put the emphasis firmly on sporty handling, Mercedes models tend to be a little more relaxing to drive, and that's certainly true here. Order the optional front air suspension and you get two modes – Sport and Comfort – both of which cushion you brilliantly from bumps.
Road, wind and engine noise are all suppressed well, too, leaving you to make serene progress to your destination. With the suspension in its softest mode, even the high-performance AMG version is comfortable and quiet inside – as long as you use the throttle with care.
Practicality & boot space
It's not often a car offers such an even mix of style and practicality. But by making the CLS 16mm longer and stretching the roof right to the back, Mercedes has created a 590-litre boot in the CLS Shooting Brake, which expands to 1,550 litres with the three-seat rear bench folded forward. Folding the seats is easy – you simply pull a handle mounted in the boot and they spring forwards.
Headroom in the back is improved slightly over the saloon, but isn't as generous as the Mercedes E-Class estate, which focuses less on style. For an extra £4,030, the boot floor can be finished in cherry wood decking, which looks fantastic but needs to be treated carefully to prevent scratches.
Reliability & safety
As it costs upwards of £50,000, the CLS is beautifully engineered and put together. All the interior fittings have a robust feel to them and should stand up well to the rigours of family life.
The Mercedes CLS saloon has a good reputation for reliability, so considering the mechanical similarities, there's no reason to think the Shooting Brake will be any different.
A huge number of safety systems are fitted, all designed to prevent accidents. These include an auto-braking function, lane-departure warning and blind-spot detection – although no CLS model has been independently crash-tested by Euro NCAP.
Price, value for money & options
It's hard to call a car that starts at such a high price 'good value for money,' but when you measure it up against the standard CLS, the Shooting Brake starts to sense.
The price difference between the normal car and the Shooting Brake is around £1,500 for the diesel models, while the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake only costs about £500 more than its saloon equivalent.
Additional equipment over the saloon car includes easy-fold rear seats, rear air suspension and an automatic tailgate, although the cost of options can add up. An AMG Sport kit (which adds sports suspension, full LED headlights, 19-inch alloys and an AMG bodykit) costs around £3,000.