EFTM earlier this year spent a week in the deliciously stunning Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC sedan. Now yet another configuration has spawned from its widely used compact car platform, this time in the form of a shooting brake. So how does this wagon style design work with the already dramatic sheet metal of the CLA? As Chris Bowen reports pretty darn well.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
In terms of design the CLA is Mercedes-Benz’s most daring offering and the shooting brake variant continues to honour that theme. In fact I believe the heavily creased profile and innovative front end is much better suited to the shooting brake look. It just looks right, perfectly proportioned and one of those rare cars that simply stands out from the rest.
The same CLA interior layout is used with five turbine-look vents spread across the upper horizontal aluminium trimmed dash. A free-standing infotainment screen sits above a button-clad panel with a typical rotary control also chiming in to run the various in-car functions. Harman Kardon badges point to the potency of the excellent sound system with red seat belts and stitching ramming home the point that this is an out of the box offering.
But like the sedan it’s how the CLA goes that really floats my boat. Cue my inevitable rant about quality European 2.0-litre turbo engines. They leave the rest for dead, with the Mercedes-Benz offering rapid acceleration without every feeling strained or annoyed. Sport mode even produces a ‘blatt’ type noise on up and down shifts from the exhaust.
The drive itself is absolutely engaging but will curb overly enthusiastic drivers when given the chance. The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system provides for a tenacious grip and supreme balance. But the clever system is very neutral in the way it splits power front to rear, don’t expect large dollops of drive being directed to the rear for some tail wagging fun – that just won’t happen.
Build quality is excellent and you’re never in doubt about the inherent solidness of the car. It steers with a confidant edge like few others and is a true driver’s car. Some cheaper plastics are found in the lower portions of the interior, a trade off when you want a “cheap” Mercedes-Benz.
So this is a smile-inducing car all round, not bad considering it technically sits below the now superior C-Class range.
Ins And Outs
There are four variants in the CLA Shooting Brake range, we tested the CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC with its 155kW and up to 350Nm of torque. Like the coupé variant you score AMG styling, a Diamond Grille, Intelligent Light System, 18” AMG Wheels and a lowered AMG engineered sports suspension.
Other model options include the CLA 200 with 115kW and 250Nm of torque from a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The CLA 200 CDI with the 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine and figures of 100kW and 300Nm of torque. The big boy in the range is the CLA 45 AMG with the renowned four-cylinder AMG engine, producing a maximum output of 265kW and up to 450Nm of torque.
Standard across the range is a power Tailgate, 18” Wheels, Garmin® MAP PILOT navigation, KEYLESS Start, THERMOTRONIC and a reversing camera.
The seven-speed dual-clutch style automatic is still a little sluggish at lower speeds and an irritant in heavy traffic. I tend to leave the car in Sport mode with enhanced, lighting quick and precise gear changes. But I would.
One of the criticisms of the sedan model was the lack of rear headroom, that’s been addressed purely through the extra height needed to engineer the shooting brake form with an extra 4 cm of space for the tall ones. Rear leg room is still limited, this is after all still a small car platform.
The Tech Inside
As with all prestige cars the options list can run long, but this is where some serious tech starts to creep in. The $2,490 COMAND Package brings with it a 17.8cm TFT colour display, hard drive driven navigation (HDD), SUNA RDS-TMC which provides traffic update messages using the FM band in some metropolitin areas, a 10GB music register, DAB+ Radio and LINGUATRONIC voice recognition.
Another $2490 scores you the Driving Assistance Package which brings a couple of handy goodies to the equation. Included is Lane Keep Assist which causes the steering wheel to vibrate when you stray across lane markings. DISTRONIC PLUS is a radar based system which maintains a safe gap between you and the vehicle in front while in cruise control. It will also alert you visually and acoustically if an impeding prang is detected.
An Intelligent Light System includes cornering lights and adaptive high beams which automatically dip for oncoming motorists.
The Hip Pocket
Before dealer delivery and all on road costs the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Sport 4MATIC Shooting Brake is priced from $66,400, around $1500 more than the sedan. The aforementioned options including $1,290 for the Cosmos Black Metallic paintwork fitted to our test car took the base price to $72,670. Fuel economy is rated at 6.9L/100km, I found closer to 8.1L/100km to be a more realistic figure. Mercedes-Benz offers a three year unlimited kilometre warranty.
The EFTM Rubber Stamp of Approval.
I liked the CLA sedan but I love the shooting brake, in fact it’s one of the few cars I’ve driven I’d seriously consider buying if the planets aligned and my ship came in. You get that typical Mercedes-Benz prestige with a more youthful, less grandpa type vibe. You wouldn’t buy this variant because it had some kind of practical edge over the sedan model, storage space is in fact very similar and the whole wagon look is really just a design element to suck you in. I hate using the shooting brake term because I think it’s a bit wanky these days, but as a sweeping wagon it certainly looks the goods and I’d be wrapped to have one in my driveway! I award the Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 4MATIC Sport the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of Approval.