There’s been another brouhaha between Britain and Germany – this time about ‘Shooting Brake’ or ‘Shooting Break’ vehicles, who started the trend and what they’re for. Here’s what you need to know: the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake is the most beautifully designed and executed station wagon we’ve seen. Ever. Period.
Car Showroom has just enjoyed an extended test of the CLS 350 Shooting Brake and almost gave it our highest 4.5-star rating. In fact if we’d driven the AMG version it probably would have joined other AMG vehicles in that rarified air of Car Showroom 5-star vehicles.
Jaguar has an XF Shooting Brake (or is that Shooting Break?) and claims the origin of the species dates back to stylized ‘Coupe-Estate’ (2-door coupes with added wagon rear-ends) cars used for hunting by well-to-do Brits in the 1960s-70s. We’ve not seen or driven the Jag.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Overview
Mercedes-Benz had a CLS 350 Shooting Brake in Sydney which needed to get to Melbourne. Would Car Showroom like to use it in Sydney for a few days and bring it back to Melbourne for our normal road test? You bet we would!
Priced at $173,000, the Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake is a five-door coupe, the handsome second–generation CLS in wagon form. With five seats, the classic CLS long bonnet and frameless side windows, the Shooting Brake gains a stupendously stylish wagon rear end and tailgate - as only Mercedes-Benz could do.
All of the Mercedes-Benz CLS we love with up to 1,500 litres of practical cargo space…so it’s like combining Pat Rafter with Scotty Cam, Maria Sharapova with Nigella Lawson – good looks, sporting prowess and practicality.
Or as Mercedes’ CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche put it: “Any memorable machine is equal parts art and science. A car has to first deliver in function – the ticket of entry – and then in fascination: the ticket to real excitement. The CLS Shooting Brake excels on both accounts – unlike any other car in the market.”
Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake Engine
Just like the regular Mercedes-Benz CLS 350, our Shooting Brake version employed Mercedes’ 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6 petrol engine (the 2.2-litre diesel is also available). Maximum power for the V6 is 225kW at 6500rpm and peak torque of 370Nm is available between 3500rpm – 5250rpm.
Drive is to the rear wheels via Mercedes’ 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters for manual changes and ‘Benz says zero to 100km/h takes 6.7 seconds.
Combined cycle fuel consumption is officially rated at 7.3l/100kms. In real world terms, we left Cronulla in Sydney’s Southern Suburbs, taking the direct M5/Hume Highway route to Melbourne and averaged much better than that – in fact we thought the CLS 350 Shooting Brake’s fuel gauge may have been faulty as it showed no signs of movement from ‘Full’ until we were well south past the Bowral/Southern Highlands exit. A top-up at Gundagai saw us reach Melbourne with more than half a tank left…very impressive.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake The Interior
Given the Mercedes-Benz CLS already possesses one of the best interiors of the current era, it stands to reason the Shooting Brake version takes things further. As per the second-generation CLS we loved the horizontal treatment of the leather-trimmed dashboard and door inners and of course those pneumatic adjustors for the seats (including side bolsters) deliver a driving position which is as good as it gets.
And as per the second generation Mercedes-Benz CLS, rear seat passengers enjoy plenty of legroom, supportive seats and fold-down centre console with cupholders.
And as per standard Mercedes-Benz practice, it pays to study the options carefully as the CLS Shooting Brake affords a myriad of choices, for example in wood trim highlights (ours was high-gloss black ash) and three types of leather.
But of course it’s the luggage compartment which is the focus of the Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake. It’s massive (590-1550-litres) lined in quality carpet (or optional American cherry tree wood for a ‘Superyacht’ deck look) and comes with a slick security cover and electronic tailgate for easy access.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake Exterior & Styling
The scene was the underground car park of the Rydges Hotel in beachside Cronulla, southern Sydney. Car Showroom parked our Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake and walked towards the elevator. As we did, the two families who had been waiting for the elevator to arrive, forgot about it and walked to our ‘Benz to check it out.
Yes, the Shooting Brake is that sort of car – a head-turner in standard CLS 350 guise - the AMG version will be causing serious neck-straining wherever it drives.
So you take the stunning second-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS (long bonnet, frameless side windows) and add the most evocatively-styled wagon rear with curved B-pillars (they’d be C or D-pillars in conventional wagons) and a sloping elongated tailgate…what could be simpler?
Of course things are much more complex than that and it’s this complexity and design sophistication which make the Mercedes-Benz Shooting Brake one of the most stylish vehicles of the current era. It’s large (4956mm long, 1881mm wide and 1413mm high) and the on-road presence is simply breathtaking.
No less impressive are the aerodynamics – the small frontal area and Mercedes-Benz ‘smarts’ delivering a drag Cd of just 0.29.
‘Benz has also worked hard to keep the weight down. Even though the side doors are massive, they’re made from aluminium and are 24kgs lighter than equivalent doors made from steel. The bonnet, front fenders and tailgate are also made from aluminium.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake On The Road
Our extended trip down the Hume Highway allowed us to again appreciate Mercedes’ ‘Distronic Plus’ adaptive cruise control system (amazing how many people pass you and then slow-down!) and also the brilliant aerodynamics of the CLS Shooting Brake (quiet at all speeds and not buffeted by strong crosswinds).
Ride and handling? Well it’s the CLS so it’s typical ‘Benz brilliance with the hallmark front-end precision, this time matched with rear air suspension for a totally balanced dynamic even when we pushed-on hard over our high-speed mountain roads test loop.
At all speeds the 3.5-litre V6 offered plenty of ‘giddy-up’ (aided by smart ratios in the seven-speed automatic). And around town there was plenty of urge for freeway merging.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake Challenges
Our only complaint regarding the Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting was reverse parking – man those curved pillars look great, but man they provide little visibility when trying to avoid ‘curbing’ the rears when parallel parking.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake Verdict
As we’ve said before, Mercedes-Benz is right at the top of the game at the moment and looking to conquer new challenges (as evidenced by the all-new A-Class which could give the all-conquering Volkswagen Golf a run for its money). The CLS Shooting Brake shows this new thinking extends across all market segments.
Good as the CLS is, the ridiculous good looks of the Shooting Brake mean this is the best-looking wagon the world has seen.
However you slice and dice things…the Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake is just brilliant.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 Shooting Brake The Competition
Jaguar has an XF Shooting Brake on the way, but at this stage, Mercedes-Benz has a relatively clean sheet of paper when it comes to legitimate rivals for the CLS Shooting Brake.
Audi’s A7 Sportback comes closest and the V6 3.0TFSI Quattro at $143,800 seems like good value but is really an elongated hatchback rather than a true wagon like the CLC Shooting Brake.