Our star ratings system is specific to market segments. So the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake scores 4.5 stars because it is without doubt the best of its kind.
About the only thing matching the blistering pace of the CLA 45 AMG are the sales at Mercedes-Benz dealerships. In some months Mercedes-Benz C-Class sales are rivaling the likes of Mazda6 and Hyundai Sonata as Australian buyers can’t get enough of Merc’s mid-size sedans and wagons.
The compact A-Class and CLA-Class are also enormously popular.
Quite simply Mercedes-Benz is right at the top of the game at the moment. So it’s a good time to buy.
Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake Overview
Well this will take some beating for the best fortnight of the year. Back to back in the Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake and C 250 Sport Shooting Brake.
The sensational AMG version is without doubt the world’s best premium/sports compact wagon and carries a suitable price tag of $89,510. But the reality is the C 250 Sport will end the year as the top-selling model of the CLA Shooting Brake range and it will set you back $66,400.
Both have turbocharged 2.0-litre engines and enjoy all-wheel-drive chassis dynamics. And while the CLA 250 Sport does have some AMG engineering (for example the lowered sports suspension) the CLA 45 AMG gets the full AMG treatment for engine, suspension, interior and exterior enhancements.
Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake Engine
Both the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport Shooting Brake and CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake are powered by 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines. Of course the more powerful AMG version is hand-assembled by one technician in Affaltenbach, Germany (the home of AMG).
So the CLA 250 Sport is good for 155kW/350Nm and the CLA 45 AMG gets pulses racing with its 265kW/450Nm and howling sports exhaust.
Both drive through seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmissions and Mercedes’ 4MATIC AWD system.
For combined-cycle fuel consumption you can chalk-up 6.8l/100kms for the CLA 250 Sport and 7.2l/100kms for the CLA 45 AMG.
Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake The Interior
We’ll begin in the rear because that’s where the focus is in the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake. Well from the B-pillar forwards the Shooting Brake is identical to the sedan version (except it scores a new-design steering wheel).
The luggage compartment is brilliantly spacious (495-litres with the rear seat in-place or 1354-litres when folded). Access is a smidge narrow and some mates commented on the low tailgate (while at the same time easily loading four golf bags on-board…note-to-self: find smarter golfing buddies).
Those same would-be golfers easily climbed into the rear seat thanks to doors which open wider than the CLA sedan and enjoyed an extra 42mm of headroom. All-up it does feel noticeably roomier in the back seat of a CLA Shooting Brake than in the sedan.
Of course the driver and front-seat passenger enjoy all of the accoutrements we know from the CLA sedan. We think this is some of the best work of the Mercedes-Benz styling team – the driver-focused cockpit with gorgeous twin gauges, the round air-vents and free-standing central screen for sat-nav and audio.
Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake Exterior & Styling
So you take the CLA sedan, extend the rear roof line and in no time flat you have wagon. Nope, that’s not the way they do things at Mercedes-Benz.
Just as the CLA sedan is termed a ‘four-door’ coupe, this version is called a ‘Shooting Brake’. And there is a precedent in the form of the larger Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake.
It’s true that from the B-pillars forwards there are no changes from the CLA sedan but nonetheless, like the CLS, the CLA Shooting Brake is a masterclass in automotive styling. The gorgeous curves, athletically bulging rear three-quarters and that incredible sloping roofline all combine for a truly memorable look which goes way beyond your everyday ‘wagon’ definition.
The rear also scores ultra-contemporary tail-lights and a sporty bumper with a diffuser-like cutout housing the rectangular exhaust pipes.
Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake On The Road
A week in both of these Mercedes-Benz CLAs was telling. The fortnight told us we need a pay rise so we can buy one.
If you opined the extra 30kgs of weight out-back might hamper the Shooting Brake version of the Mercedes-Benz CLA you’d be wrong. Those clever Germans simply gave the multi-link rear suspension a tweak (front is MacPherson strut) and – boom! – here’s a wagon which drives as brilliantly as the sedan.
Of course both the CLA 250 Sport and CLA 45 AMG run the 4Matic AWD system so there’s an immediate ramping-up of the driving dynamics. Predictably Melbourne couldn’t go two weeks without rain and in slippery going the all-paw grip really stood-up for the counting…if we’re spending this sort of coin we’re looking for AWD models (the technology is so good these days you’re nuts if you don’t).
The CLA 250 Sport also scores some AMG enhancement for its lowered sports suspension. Make no mistake this is the hero of the regular CLA Shooting Brake lineup.
Over our high-speed mountain roads test loop the CLA 250 was a delight – nicely ‘pointy’ into corners, little body roll and that chassis balance for which the more upscale Mercedes-Benz models are so rightly praised. Start pushing the limits and there was a hint of the usual AWD understeer but this thing responded brilliantly to throttle input and quickly had the nose tucked again.
Of course the Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG was a lot more energetic in the twisty stuff – no doubt a byproduct of its full AMG chassis enhancements and extra 110kW/100Nm. As we’ve said before about the A 45 AMG and CLA 45 AMG the grip, the balance and the poise of these remarkable cars in high speed corners is simply astonishing…even more so when you remember this is a wagon (Shooting Brake) version which can accommodate your mutt/weekend getaway gear/golf appliances/grocery shopping for a month etc
Around town of course these are after-all Mercedes-Benz vehicles so their levels of refinement and isolation from the outside world ranks amongst the very best. Even the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission - which some rivals brands are struggling with - was smooth at low speeds.
Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake Issues
As the CLA was a ‘clean-sheet’ design we reckon the team at ‘Benz could have delivered just a bit more rear seat space without compromising the design.
Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake Verdict
As they say in horse racing: “You can put the glasses down, we have a clear winner.” In this case we’re talking about compact wagons.
Sure the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake commands a significant price premium over its rivals but in our book it’s worth every cent. This is to compact wagons what the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is to premium sedans…that is the world’s best by a considerable margin.
We’re totally besotted by the CLA 45 AMG sedan and our affection for the Shooting Brake version is no less. Pick the superlative here – ‘astonishing’, ‘remarkable’…they’re all selling this vehicle short.
But if your bank manager is going to ‘crack-it’ about $89,510, don’t be discouraged because the CLA 250 Sport Shooting Brake at $66,400 is a worthy alternative.
Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake The Competition
Small or compact sports/luxury wagons are a bit thin on the ground more’s the pity. The Europeans ‘get’ these vehicles in a big way (probably something to do with crowded cities and tight car parks) but in Australia we haven’t got that ‘memo’ yet.
For instance Renault has the Megane GT 220 Premium wagon priced at just $41,490. With the ‘go-fast’ looks to match its 162kW/340Nm turbo 2.0-litre powerplant, the Megane GT 220 wagon is one of our favourites. The lack of an automatic transmission may be a ‘deal-breaker’ for some but make no mistake this wagon given the ‘once-over’ by Renault Sport is a cracker.
Likewise the just-launched Volkswagen Golf R wagon priced at $58,990. It gets the full Volkswagen ’R’ treatment and drives its 206kW/380Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre engine via Volkswagen’s 4Motion AWD. We think the 300-examples limited edition is selling this brilliant wagon short.