Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake, Mercedes C-Class T-Model, Plan view 14 Photos Zoom

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake and C-Class compared: The compact squares up to the T-Model

The CLA Shooting Brake supplements the compact range from Mercedes. A comparison with the C-Class T-Model shows how much estate car it has inside it. And we also drove the new model.

This niche is now set to be filled again: with the CLA Shooting Brake, Mercedes crowns itself the market leader when it comes to estate cars with frameless side windows. A niche that Subaru vacated some time ago, for unknown reasons, and that the Swabians have for the time being filled, with the CLS Shooting Brake.

That's enough wisecracking, for the CLA with its large boot lid has mainly vehicle fleet managers to thank for its existence, for whom a four-door coupé seems too bold or a C-Class T-Model now seems too expensive – or both. This niche is now to be filled, for starters. Key word - price: the reasonably priced Shooting Brake (CLA 180 with 120 HP) costs a negligible 595 Euros more than the Coupé and a commendable 5,414.50 Euros less than a 154 HP C 180 T, the entrance level model within the series. And because at 495 litres the storage space between the rear seating bench and the retractable load cover even exCee’ds that of the C-Class by five litres, it would seem that there is barely anything going in the car's bigger brother's favour, or is this not so?

Electric boot lid is subject to additional cost in both

It's really not the case. The fact that the maximum load capacity differs by 154 litres in favour of the T-Model (1,510 litres) appears to be of little relevance. The fact alone that Mercedes economises by doing away with two-part rear lights in the Shooting Brake considerably limits the loading space opening, and the loading edge is also a little higher. However, it seems more practical that the rear seating bench of the C-Class can be folded down with a 40:20:40 ratio and, if the estate car is packed full to bursting inside, an extractable partition net separates the transport goods from the driver and front passenger.

And the CLA? The seat back folds down asymmetrically, while the loading surface is not entirely level. Optional level control as in the T-Model? Not planned, but you can live with that. The partition net, on the other hand, which is only available within an accessories pack and which can also only be ordered with the so-called storage package, is more greatly missed. So what does Mercedes include in this package? A 15 degrees steeper lockable rear seat back for added storage space, a collapsible box and storage nets in the boot – which comes to 142.80 Euros, with the partition net costing an additional 178.50 Euro. Subject to additional charge in both models: electrically opening boot lid and tow bar.

Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake is dynamic when cornering

But that's enough on nets. In any case, the Shooting Brake offers the minimum level of estate car virtues and much more utility value than the saloon. And this may well be enough for some customers, for ultimately the majority of buyers opt for a CLA on account of the design and the agile handling. Because the Shooting Brake is said to weigh just 40 kilograms more than the saloon (CLA 180), and given that the spring and damping rates have been adjusted to suit the weight distribution, no-one should drive it if they are looking for a surprise.

As we are accustomed to from the saloon, the estate steers – yes, we're saying it again – just as voraciously, falls in love with corners rather quickly, which it scurries through with minimal understeer. Because photographers are rather partial to loud colours, this first trip takes place in the red CLA 250 4Matic, which shouldn't really be one of the more sought-after variants. Thanks to the all-wheel drive with an electronically controlled multi-disc clutch within the rear axle transmission, it does, however, tolerate acceleration being reapplied unashamedly shortly after the apex of the corner, whereas the front-wheel drive models would presumably get caught out by the control electronics.

CLA Shooting Brake with a two-litre turbo and 208 HP

For a car that weighs just under 1.6 tonnes, the Shooting Brake feels rather lively, and if there is anything that weighs on your mind, then its the poor Winter tyres – or the lacking snow-covered road, but you can't have everything. Good seats are another, for the strangely shaped, forward-arching seat back with integrated headrests may look dashing, but isn't for everyone.

Ah, so how is the seating in the back? At the end of the day, there too they could have done with a little more headroom by adjusting line of the roof. That may be true, but even as the Shooting Brake the CLA remains a coupé, just one with a large boot lid. In short: things are tight in the back. So let's get back behind the wheel. The engineers have gotten to grips with the chassis tuning, this much was already clear when the CLA was released. It retains the dynamic handling, but could do with a little more suspension – which the A-Class initially failed to manage. The Mercedes remains firm, regardless of whether on long bumps or transverse joints, but a bumpy ride is a thing of the past.

All that remains is the drive system. The two-litre turbo petrol engine produces a noteworthy 208 HP, however, it puts this to use in astonishingly boring fashion. It's not that its lazy, for it also produces a maximum torque of 350 Newton metres, but it sounds about as thrilling as a best-of elevator music sample CD. And although the response and gear shifting times of the seven-speed dual clutch transmission have now been noticeably reduced, the rather sleepy torque interruption is still irritating – in any case, the Über-Shooting-Brake CLA 45 AMG can already do things better.

Six different engines available

As an alternative to the 250, from March a CLA 200 and 180 and 200 and 220 CD 2.10litre diesel engines will hit dealerships. The latter in particular should appeal to the targeted vehicle fleet manager clientèle, especially with Mercedes promising consumption values of 4.1 (CLA 200 CDI) and 4.0 l/100 km (CLA 220 CDI). Both diesel engines can also be ordered with all-wheel drive from September. And if all of this isn't enough of a sales pitch: estate cars with frameless side windows really aren't available from any other manufacturer.



Dino Eisele


27 July 2015
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