September 2012

Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY

Bold visual appeal is a key part of the Shooting Brake's appeal

September 2012

picture of car from the frontpicture of car from the rearpicture of car interiorpicture of car in detail

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5 stars


  • Bold looks are likely to appeal to younger buyers
  • Diesel power proves refined and economical
  • High quality cabin lives up to car's price tag
  • Despite sleek profile, Shooting Brake proves surprisingly practical


  • Could be better equipped given car's price tag
  • Don't expect entry-level diesel variant to be especially brisk
  • Rearward vision could be better
  • Shooting Brake still no substitute for a premium class SUV

With car makers increasingly seeking out new market segments in a bid to gain a competitive edge, Mercedes has chosen to expand its already niche CLS range with a wagon variant. The CLS Shooting Brake promises to be the pinnacle of lifestyle load carrying models.

With its long, low-slung stance and equally long and streamlined roofline, the CLS Shooting Brake is an arresting sight in the metal. It's a big car, but the benefits are obvious: a practical load bay to match the car's surprisingly spacious cabin.

In standard, non-AMG guise, the CLS Shooting Brake offers buyers a relaxed, refined and smooth driving experience. There's no attempt on Mercedes' behalf to promote the car as a sporting model in the way that, say BMW, would do with any of its products.

As such, engine choice is leans more towards the sensible end of the spectrum. And although there's an entry-level four-cylinder diesel unit available, with the CLS Shooting Brake being more of an aspirational purchase you'll be better served by the more powerful six-pot oil-burner.

As such, engine choice is leans more towards the sensible end of the spectrum. And although there's an entry-level four-cylinder diesel unit available, with the CLS Shooting Brake being more of an aspirational purchase you'll be better served by the more powerful six-pot oil-burner.

Our verdict on the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY

Recent years have seen Mercedes prove smart at picking new niche market sectors. The stems from the success of the original CLS four-door 'coupe' and continues with the second-generation model. Adding a lifestyle estate to the mix further enhances the car's appeal and versatility. And behind the streamlined profile lies a practical and easy to drive all-rounder that's easier on the eye than a conventional, boxy estate car.


In standard form running costs will inevitably be reasonable by premium car standards. Diesel economy should be good so long as you're not driving too enthusiastically, with the larger capacity six-cylinder motor proving the more relaxed option. Expect insurance and servicing costs to be commensurate with the whole premium brand ownership experience.

Space and practicality

While not a conventional family car, oddment space in the cabin is good. However, where the Shooting Brake beats the regular CLS is at the rear; the car's load deck is wide and flat, while the ability to fold the rear seats usefully boosts its versatility. It can't match a conventional estate but, for many, it'll prove more attractive than a regular saloon.

Controls and display

The dashboard layout of the CLS is attractive and practical, with clear ergonomics and a sensible layout. The main instrument display is particularly attractive, with the speedometer including a central information display for the likes of the trip computer, navigation, audio and telephone features.


Noise levels are kept firmly in check so long as you're not pushing too hard, while cabin comfort levels are good - even for those in the back. If you can afford it, opting for the extra cost multi function seats adds a wealth of adjustment

Car security

The CLS is fitted with an alarm system featuring engine immobiliser and interior protection as standard, which should ensure that this desirable machine remains in the custody of its owners. The car's rear load cover looks sturdy enough to keep out prying eyes, too.

Car safety

As you would expect for a car of this standing, the CLS Shooting Brake is packed with safety equipment as standard such as numerous airbags and electronic stability aids. On the option front, intelligent aids such as adaptive cruise control adaptive headlights add value to the overall experience.

Driver appeal

In regular, non-AMG guise the CLS Shooting Brake delivers a refined, measured and relaxing driving experience. It's not a car that rewards you for hustling it along, and the auto transmission doesn't like being rushed. Four-cylinder diesel power delivers the goods but it's not a particularly brisk experience. For that you'll need the six-pot option, which better suits the car's unflustered character. Ride comfort is good, but can be spoilt by selecting large wheels and sport suspension.

Family car appeal

While the CLS Shooting Brake will house four adults, don't expect tall rear seat occupants to be overly impressed on long journeys. The upside to Shooting Brake motoring is the car's load space, which should easily accommodate shopping, sporting equipment and even children's buggies. However, the car's plush interior isn't exactly childproof and could be prone to damage.

First car appeal

While the CLS range is sufficiently easy to drive that an inexperienced user could cope, the performance on offer from even the entry-level variant and the associated running costs make it hard to recommend for novice drivers.

Quality and image

The CLS Shooting Brake is right at the peak of quality for Mercedes-Benz products, with an impressive sense of build quality and materials throughout - there's even a wood decking option for the rear load area. The CLS range has an image, which is subtly different from the rest of the Mercedes-Benz line-up, thanks to its dynamic looks and is likely to appeal to buyers seeking individuality.


Although the CLS Shooting Brake boasts a hatchback rear door, the low roofline does make it slightly more difficult to gain entry to than a conventional estate. However, access to the rear cabin is straightforward for back seat passengers to get in compared to a traditional two-door coupe.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The standard stereo system in the car is a relatively straightforward unit, and can be had with a sat-nav function, Bluetooth and connections for popular media players. The user interface is straightforward, although Mercedes has eschewed a touchscreen for more traditional buttons and a rotary controller.

Colours and trim

Exterior colours are a successful combination of traditional sober metallic hues and some brighter shades to offer a more radical look to engage younger buyers. Cabin-wise, plush materials with either a traditional or contemporary look and feel ensure a high-class ambiance.


Thanks to the car's length, steeply-sloped bonnet and modest rear visibility, parking can sometimes be a little tricky. However, parking sensors help and the optional reversing camera soon proves to be another useful addition alongside the car's excellent power steering.

Spare wheel

Space saver fitted as standard.

Range information

Petrol engine options - 5.5-litre (557bhp). Diesel engine options - 2.2-litre (204bhp); 3.0-litre (265bhp). Transmission options: Seven-speed auto gearbox. Trim levels: dependent on engine size.

Alternative cars

BMW 5 Series Touring Dynamic benchmark lacks the Shooting Brake's visual appeal

Jaguar XF Sportbrake Easy on the eye and pleasingly practical

Audi A6 Avant Solid performer and stylish to boot

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate Practical in-house rival trumps CLS for space

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