And it’s willfully-obtuse form is so very endearing.
There are issues with the current crop of compact Mercedes-Benzes. The A-Class hatch is too small, the A-Class saloon too odd, and the practicality of the CLA has been compromised by the fact that the A-Class saloon is better. On top of all this, the compact Mercs have to contend heavily on style and while the cabins do a good job of that, the exteriors can leave a bit to be desired.
The usual route is to go AMG, which will add a healthy dose of aggro to the proceedings. But this new car, the CLA35 Shooting Brake, is a bit more than that. It’s not just an aggressive small Mercedes, but a wantonly-odd yellow machine that you can sell to your better half as more than a flight of fancy.
Why? Because in addition to the 225kW and 400Nm on offer from the 2.0-litre 4-pot, it also has a 505-litre boot. So you can put several dogs, and some flowers in there and be just fine (though not at the same time, obviously).
This estate car, which is what it is at the end of it all, can hit 100km/h in less than 5-seconds, before hitting an electronically-governed top speed of 250km/h. This is all of course kept in check by the AMG-fettled 4Matic all-wheel drive system, as well as small aesthetic tweaks that AMG says has improved the aerodynamics and “increase negative force lift and thus also the driving stability at sporty limits.” Okay.
And because it’s an estate car, there are those 505-litres of space for various flotsam, as well as five usable seats (okay four-and-a-half more like). Dotted around the place are the usual AMG addenda like sporty seats, polished metal stuff, and contrast stitching. Also around the cabin are the various controls for configurable things, like the stability controls, driving modes, suspension, all-wheel drive system, traction control… you name it, it’s configurable. Unfortunately you can’t use the AI voice-command system to do it – we’d have loved to be able to ask, 'Hey Mercedes, I’d like to do something at an illegal speed, could you make the suspension as unforgiving as my mother?’
The highlight in this cabin, as it is in any compact Merc, is the dual-screen display running MBUX, which powers that voice command system we were talking about earlier. It’s been played with by the nutters in Affalterbach so there are displays for your G, your turbo-boost, engine data, and even a warm-up menu that allows you keep track of critical temperatures (not that you actually care). There’s also a louder and more ‘expressive’ exhaust, sharper brakes, pointier dials, and a generally stiffer body-in-white, all working together to ensure that when you’re not making the most of your estate car, you’re making the most of the tarmac ahead of you.
What is a touch unfortunate is the fact that the CLA35 Shooting Brake will most certainly not be a cheap car to buy, with prices expected to begin somewhere above the CLA coupé. Not that the small AMGs were ever truly ‘affordable’ to begin with, but this one most certainly won’t wear the term ‘entry-level’ on its curriculum vitae. But what could be more unfortunate is that there’s no certainty of us getting the Shooting Brake at all – while we like hot cars, hot estates just don’t shift in enough numbers.
But you can rest assured that the team here at CarShowroom will join hands and sing songs of prayer. We’re not sure if it’s because it’s an AMG, an estate, in yellow, or all three combined, but this very fast banana is absolute catnip in our office. We want, and we want now.