Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake

We've driven the bonkers top-spec Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

AMG takes its cars a little bit less seriously than the BMW M division – and the Shooting Brake is the perfect example. The idea of crossing a 549bhp four-door coupe with an estate is absurd, but it’s done very well. If you can afford it, this CLS is spacious, stylish, solidly built and, above all, huge fun.

If you’re torn between buying a sports car, a coupe or a family estate, there could be no need to decide. The new Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake is as adept on a drag strip as it is carrying huge loads cross-country – and it will look good while doing it.

Mercedes prides itself on creating new niches, and the CLS Shooting Brake – an estate crossed with the CLS four-door coupe – is its latest experiment. The entry-level 250 CDI model we drove may well be all the car you need, but a Mercedes line-up wouldn’t be complete without a bonkers top-spec AMG version.

Although the Shooting Brake didn’t really need any help to stand out, AMG has tweaked the styling nonetheless. A sharper front apron, single-bar grille and ‘V8 biturbo’ badging behind the front wheelarches beef up the front end, while at the back are four chrome-tipped exhausts and a diffuser. The interior also stands out from the regular car’s, featuring Nappa leather sports seats, plenty of piano black trim and a revised centre console, with an AMG gearlever and a series of unique buttons.

Otherwise, this Shooting Brake is identical inside, which means space for three in the back with a touch more headroom than in the CLS, plus the £4,030 option of beautiful but highly impractical cherry wood decking in the boot.

Power comes from AMG’s storming 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 – which produces 549bhp and 800Nm of torque – while the chassis has been upgraded with three-stage adjustable dampers, a 56mm wider front track and a quicker steering ratio. As a result it feels far sharper to drive than the standard car, and amazing fun for a near-two-tonne estate.

We’re well aware of the engine’s breadth of abilities, but the way it pulls ferociously from low rpm, with barely a hint of turbo lag, never fails to surprise. The guttural roar from the four exhausts is addictive, too – you’ll find yourself flipping down a couple of gears on the sharp seven-speed auto box just to hear the engine’s full sonic repertoire time and time again.

There’s a bit more body roll in corners, due to the self-levelling air-suspension at the rear and the fact the car is 85kg heavier. But who cares? AMG Mercedes should be loud, fast and have hooligan appeal, and the Shooting Brake ticks all those boxes.

Turn the suspension to its firmest setting, switch off the traction control and you can fling this new car around with impressive precision. Plus, you’ll be grinning as you go.

The CLS 63 was already one of our favourite AMG models and the Shooting Brake version delivers a similarly intoxicating experience from behind the wheel. Plus, it looks even more outrageous and has a sizeable 1,550-litre boot. Apart from the price, what’s not to like?

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