Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake (2013-2017) review
The Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake is huge fun to drive, thanks to its 549bhp 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 engine
Mercedes is a past-master in finding unexplored niches in the market and the CLS 63 AMG hit another sweet spot. With enormous pace from it 549bhp 5.5-litre twin-turbo V8 (0-62mph takes just 4.3 seconds) and the same sense of occasion that comes as standard with all AMGs - it's not for the faint-hearted, but it is wonderfully executed. It can't match an E-Class Estate for space, but there's enough room in the boot for most families and space for three adults in the back seats, plus it will turn heads like no other estate on the market. Self-levelling air suspension at the rear, and an extra 85kg of weight, means it's not quite as sharp to drive as the CLS 63 AMG, but it's not far off. Three-stage adjustable dampers help to give it a broad spread of abilities - from a quiet long distance cruiser to a B-road attack weapon.
Engines, performance and drive
All AMGs are renowned for their hooligan tendencies, and the Shooting Brake is no exception. The 549bhp V8 sends all its power to the rear wheels which makes for lively handling on slippery surfaces and smoky getaways. A 56mm wider front track and three-stage adjustable dampers give the AMG far better body control than the standard car, but push it hard and there's no disguising the extra 85kg over the air-sprung rear axle. It never feels loose or dangerous, though, just huge amounts of fun trying to keep the weight transfer and all that power under control. The steering ratio is quicker, too, so the nose darts into corners the moment you move the wheel. Take things a little easier and it's happy to play the long-legged continental cruiser, delivering effortlessly refined pace for hundreds of miles on end.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
Running a large AMG model like this is never going to be cheap, even if the turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 is significantly cleaner than the old naturally-aspirated 6.3-litre V8 it replaces. According to Mercedes, it returns 28mpg and emits 235g/km of CO2, which is good for a car with this level of performance. But drive it as the manufacturer intended and you can expect an mpg figure in the mid teens. It's worth baring in mind that it will set you back almost £10,000 more to buy in the first place than the larger E63 AMG Estate, though.
Interior, design and technology
The main reason Mercedes thinks you'd choose the CLS over the E-Class Saloon, or this CLS Shooting Brake over the E-Class Estate, is style. Blending an extended version of the CLS's swoopy roofline with a longer body creates a mesmerising shape - and the AMG version turns up up the visuals even further. It gets a more aggressive front spoiler, single-bar grille and silver ‘V8 biturbo’ badging behind the front wheel arches, while at the back there's two pairs of chrome-tipped exhausts and a diffuser. The interior also gets a lift with Nappa leather sports seats, plenty of piano black trim and a revised centre console, which features an AMG gear selector instead of the standard column-mounted shifter, and a series of unique buttons for tweaking the chassis settings.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
For such a style-driven car, Mercedes has managed to maintain a high level of practicality with the Shooting Brake. Boot capacity of 590 litres, or 1,550litres with the rear seats folded (by comparison, the E-Class Estate offers 695 litres and 1,950 litres) will be plenty for most families, although the opening is a bit narrow. And even though it looks gorgeous, we'd steer clear of the optional (£4,030) polished cherry wood flooring in the boot and stick with the standard deep-pile carpet, as the former offers zero friction for any cargo you might have loaded in the back. An electronic tailgate is fitted as standard across the range, too, which is useful for when your hands are full.
Reliability and Safety
One of the benefits of Mercedes having such a huge range of cars is that the AMG models can share engines and components, which reduces overall cost and boosts durability. Mercedes finished eighth overall in the 2012 Driver Power reliability survey, and build quality is improving all the time. So despite its high-performance credentials, you shouldn't expect to encounter any major mechanical problems with the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake, and it's tyre and brake bills that will sting the most. As with all top-end Mercedes, it's simply dripping in technology, too, with nine airbags, brake assist, tiredness detection, blind spot assist and lane keep assist fitted as standard.