Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake 220 CDI AMG Sport
There's a lot of the larger CLS in the CLA's overall design
- Striking design with added practicality
- Fully adjustable driving position
- Shooting Brake-style boot is surprisingly spacious
- High performance AMG variant is rapid and entertaining
- Can prove expensive when options are added
- Some cabin materials could be of a higher standard
- Rear view is compromised sloping roof and rear pillars
- Auto gearbox option could be more responsive
Mercedes has become the master of filling niches in the car market. From the original CLS to upright family hatches and baby SUVs, Mercedes now has a compact 'Shooting Brake' model to pair with its compact four-door saloon CLA, which it optimistically calls a coupe.
Essentially just like the CLA 'coupe' until you reach the rear doors, the CLA Shooting Brake offers another level of practicality along with a particularly stylish sweeping profile. If you're an active type you'll appreciate the extra boot space.
Make no mistake, visually the CLA Shooting Brake is a striking car. Its sloping roofline ensures that it'll always be viewed as a more sporting alternative to the C-Class wagon. Although similar in size, thanks to the neat optical illusion the CLA still gives the impression that it's compact enough to slot easily into city life.
Attempting to promote an affordable theme, Mercedes has adopted a four-cylinder engine policy for the CLA. Be it diesel or petrol, performance of the standard cars is reasonable without being extraordinary. This situation can be improved upon of you choose the flagship AMG variant which, along with the A-Class, is the first example of a four-cylinder full-on AMG model complete with all-wheel drive.
The A-Class connection continues inside the CLA's cabin, with the two cars sharing many design and layout attributes. The two cars diverge when it comes to load-lugging properties, as the CLA Shooting Brake is like a mini version of the larger CLS. The flat load bay and folding rear seats are items you'd more likely find in a conventional compact estate car, but the CLA adds a welcome dose of glamour to the mix.
Our verdict on the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake 220 CDI AMG Sport
If the booted CLA isn't versatile enough for your needs, the Shooting Brake variant should do the trick. The cars have much in common design-wise and in terms of cabin layout and engine options. The more practical wagon is likely to appeal to buyers keen to appear stylish while also needing the extra space over the saloon. And if you're not a fan of traditional boxy estates, the CLA is a good alternative choice.
If running costs matter and you do plenty of miles, diesel has to be a consideration. The engines on offer aren't especially powerful but, on paper, they should please the bank manager. Low mileage drivers will need to do their sums to see if picking a petrol motor will be more cost effective, while the long list of cost options can easily push the list price up to E-Class levels if you're not careful.
Space and practicality
A better proposition than the booted CLA if you need more space and a versatile load area, the Shooting Brake is a good alternative to a compact SUV or even a conventional estate if style is a priority. Don't expect to be moving furniture with it, but at least the rear seats fold to boost carrying capacity to meaningful levels. Up front, it's just like the booted CLA, which means oddment storage space isn't in short supply and there's ample room for occupants.
Controls and display
A-Class will feel right at home in the CLA Shooting Brake as the various controls and displays are shared between the two cars. As with increasing numbers of modern Mercedes models, the one column stalk design is easy to adapt to, and the major functions are integrated well into the limited number of buttons on display. The main dials and central screen deliver information in an unfussy, easy to interpret manner. Only the fiddly electric handbrake button could have ben better implemented.
Refrain from selecting an AMG-themed trim level, stick to modest-size wheels and you'll find the car capable of delivering a decent ride on a variety of poorly surfaced roads. The various front seat options allow you to choose varying degrees of support, while the car proves refined when cruising but cabin noise can increase when the various engines are pushed hard.
An alarm, immobiliser and remote central locking are standard here, while items in the CLA Shooting Brake's load area are shielded by a sturdy load cover. There's also a decent size glovebox for hiding valuables if required, plus a covered central armrest storage area.
Safety provision in the CLA Shooting Brake is well catered for, with ESP and a host of other electronic systems taking care of you. Most of the time the systems prove unobtrusive, but under extreme conditions they should prove their worth and active in a progress manner to maintain driver confidence. Opt for a 4Matic variant and you can have added peace of mind with four-wheel drive - ideal for changeable road conditions and winter motoring.
In regular non-AMG guise the CLA Shooting Brake delivers a competent and refined driving experience. It's not as polished as a similarly sized BMW or Audi, but so long as you opt for a high power petrol or diesel engine you'll be fine. The car's semi-auto gearbox can be hesitant around town, something the manual option doesn't suffer from. And it's worth sampling the different trim levels as the AMG-themed ones can deliver an over-firm ride in town.
Family car appeal
This makes more sense than the CLA saloon, although space in the back once you add child seats won't be great. Plus, with very small children, the car's premium upholstery might not stand up well to the rigors of family life. You might want to consider a more practical A-Class if you're serious about family-related activities.
First car appeal
Easy to drive and boasting modest running costs in regular guise, you'll need deep pockets to acquire one as it's a positioned as a premium model. Plus, like the saloon, rear visibility isn't great if you're not a competent parker.
Quality and image
Mercedes has become an expert at identifying gaps in the market, with the CLA and its Shooting Brake relation a good example. The youthful-looking CLA is ideal for anyone who thinks Mercedes cars are for the older generation. And if you want to be part of the 'active lifestyle' generation, the Shooting Brake offers greater practicality over the booted variant.
Despite the CLA's obvious four-door layout forward of the boot, there are few issues with accessibility. One bonus is that the doors are relatively short, which means that opening them in confined spaces is easy. The seats are positioned at a very reasonable height making it easy to get in and out. At the rear the car's tailgate requires little effort to open and you're presented with a flat, wide load bay with a usefully low loading lip.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
All models feature a large colour display mounted high up on the fascia, CD player, speed sensitive volume and Bluetooth as standard. Factor in the sat-nav option plus MP3 player connectivity and the system is a comprehensive one. Based largely around a rotary controller by the gearlever, the intuitive system is simple to use and sound quality is also impressive.
Colours and trim
The CLA Shooting Brake works well in a variety of colours, each complimenting its striking design well. Opt for a bright colour and it looks positively extrovert. Look past the vast swathes of dark plastic and the car's cabin isn't as sombre as models higher up the Mercedes food chain, and various trim options can also brighten up the cabin if you so choose.
Like its saloon brother the CLA Shooting Brake requires a little more skill than usual to reverse park as visibility isn't that great. The car's parking sensors are a welcome addition, while plenty of assistance for the steering helps matters, as does the car's good size mirrors and, where fitted, the helpful reversing camera.
Space saver fitted as standard.
Petrol engine options - CLA 180 (122bhp); CLA 250 (211bhp); CLA 45 AMG (360bhp). Diesel engine options - CLA 200 CDI (136bhp); CLA 220 CDI (177bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, seven-speed dual clutch gearbox. Trim levels: Sport, AMG Sport, OrangeArt, Engineered by AMG, AMG.
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