Estate cars aren’t the most desirable things in the world, but there’s something about the new Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake – driven here in the UK for the first time – that seems a whole lot more appealing.
Maybe it’s the fact that style comes first in this instance. The Shooting Brake has to be the most attractive estate car on the road, with the rear end looking particularly elegant. The narrow windows, coupe-like roofline and muscular rear arches are
all a world away from the boxy-looking E-Class Estate.
And while that curvy shape reduces the amount of space, you couldn’t call the CLS cramped. There’s 590 litres of space with the seats up and 1,550 litres with them folded down – 100 litres and 400 litres less than in an E-Class Estate. All Shooting Brakes come with an electric tailgate as standard, too.
And in case you’re not happy with a carpeted boot, you can choose cherry wood decking for £4,030. It lends the CLS a sense of occasion, but the slippy floor isn’t perfect for all situations.
The four-cylinder 250 CDI will be the big seller, but we’re trying the more powerful CLS 350 CDI, and it feels like the perfect match for this car. The 3.0-litre V6 has 261bhp and 620Nm of torque, and takes the Mercedes from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds.
It’s smooth and quiet, while economy of 47.1mpg is also good. If you’re looking for more power, there’s the CLS 63 AMG, with a 549bhp twin-turbo V8.
The slightly weak link is the seven-speed automatic gearbox, which works perfectly if you’re cruising around slowly, but feels a little like it’s struggling to keep up if you want to push on harder.
The handling tends to err on the side of comfort, so there’s a little bit of body roll and a fairly light power-steering set-up. This makes the Shooting Brake very easy to drive, and it’s agile and grippy, but it’s not the most involving or exciting experience.
On the plus side, the ride is great. Our car had the optional semi-active air-suspension, but self-levelling rear air-suspension is standard. It floats over cobbles and bumps, and settles down comfortably on the motorway. The luxurious interior and the impressive refinement both play their parts, too.
The Shooting Brake brings real style to the premium estate car class, but it could end up being a hard sell for a lot of customers – the more practical E-Class Estate costs about £10,000 less.