Price: From £49,385 (£71,695 as tested)
Tested: CLS 350 CDI
Engine capacity: 3.0-litre V6 diesel
Power Output (bp @ rpm): 265 @ 3,800
Top Speed (mph): 155
0-60 mph (seconds): 6.6
Fuel economy (mpg): 47.1
CO2 emissions (g/km): 162
Its name implies that the CLS Shooting Brake should be a huntsman’s best friend. You know, the sort of car that’s happy messing around the muddy lanes of Wiltshire and running its tweed-wearing owner to his shoot and back to Monty’s place for a haunch of venison and a bottle of Malbec.
There are two problems with this scenario though; it doesn’t come with four-wheel drive so won’t cope with anything more than a muddy field and thanks to its sloping roof, there isn’t really enough space in the back for our chap’s guns and hounds.
Don’t get me wrong. The new CLS Shooting Brake isn’t a cramped car, but rather than being a proper roomy ride, it’s an attempt by Mercedes to introduce a touch of style and luxury to the boxy world of estates. Think of it as less flashy than an SUV but more premium than a standard estate. As if to illustrate this its boot can even be fitted with an optional cherry-wood deck. I mean, who on earth needs a boot made of wood? Certainly not someone who actually has dogs or takes their garden rubbish to the tip – think of the scratches. It wouldn’t be an easy leap for your Labrador either, with tight rear arches encroaching on the boot aperture on both sides.
Don’t let these practical niggles put you off the Shooting Brake immediately though. Estates spend most of their time on the motorway or school run and this one is a luxurious place to spend time. And unlike most estates, it’s a very nice thing to look at to boot. It won’t set the world of fire in terms of driving dynamics but its sporty looks and sleek lines are translated into just enough handling prowess to push it along nicely at speed. Its 3.0-litre V6 unit is a peach, offering power whenever you need it without sacrificing too much on the economy and emissions front. Thanks to a partial air-suspension set-up it will float over B-road bumps and potholes with aplomb and has terrific motorway touring manners. Simply put, it ticks all the premium car boxes. That shouldn’t come as a surprise as it’s all these attributes that make the CLS, the luxury coupe the Shooting Brake is based on, a hit with executive car drivers.
The problem is that however desirable (very) and pretty the Shooting Brake is, it’s hard to get away from the fact that it’s an estate in a slinky body. It simply doesn’t have the space of its boxy rivals. If I can live with this compromise, then it’s a wonderful way to shift some of your stuff around in luxury, style and comfort. You can get an E-class with an extra 400 litres more space (with the seats down) for £10,000 less though... can you, or your bank manager, live with that?