The CLA is a pretty and compact coupe soon to be joined by an estate version called the Shooting Brake. Mercedes-Benz refer to the car as a sports car with load space but rally it is just a styling exercise to fill a 10% demand in the CLA range. There is nothing wrong with niche and in many ways the Shooting Brake will offer buyers a more interesting vehicle than the CLA itself. It is a sad fact that Ireland’s car buyers as a rule don’t love estates as much as buyers in European. MB only has the C and E class estates in its three model estate range.
Ciaran Allen, sales and marketing manager for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars said “Given that the CLA Shooting Brake will be aimed at young individualists with gear to carry and a love of the open road, prices will likely shadow those of the CLA coupe and be within reach of that generation.” The shooting brake is expected to cost between €1,500 and €2,00 more than the equivalent coupe.
The front wheel drive car’s exterior is well proportioned. There is a long bonnet and a more rearward set cabin with a large glass area. Frameless doors take it in to the coupe genre – pleasing the eye. The tailgate design is cute and smile inducing. The second generation CLA Shooting Brake is 48mm longer, 53mm wider and 2mm lower than the original. The front end features a sharp styling, narrow headlight clusters and a contemporary diamond finish grille with the obligatory oversize Mercedes emblem. Side on there are similarities to the discontinued CLS Shooting Brake with a nice flowing arc the dominant eye catcher. The wheel arches are better filled-out than the previous generation too. The tailgate opens to reveal much wider loading access (871mm). The boot also gets a new hands free power opening/closing option.
Inside the cabin is identical to the coupe up front. The estate offers more rear headroom thanks to the extending roofline. Legroom remains tight in the back and reminds occupants of its A Class compact car underpinnings. The cabin feels remarkably airy and there is a reassuring premium feeling present thanks in no small part to the new dash layout from the A class with dominant large display screens. Three trim grades: style, progressive and the sporty AMG feature. Optional packs e.g. advantage, premium and premium plus offer value for money bundles of additional specification. New in car technology from the CLA coupe and other new generation MB models feature or are in the optional packs like wireless charging, steering, parking and lane changing assist.
Navigation with AR augmented reality digital overlays is available. During our test drive it was a little slow to display direction arrows over the camera view of the road ahead – but it is a cool and ultra modern system none the less. There are many features that can make life a bit easier but the party trick, first seen in the A Class hatchback, is the “Hey Mercedes” voice activation linked to the new MBUX user/car interface. Before you ask – yes the clever system doesn’t always work and in truth “Hey Mercedes” can be as annoying as Alexa with random activations. The latest MBUX also features an ‘interior assistant’ that can recognise hand movements. Using, I kid you not, the classic two finger F-off gesture you can adjust the electric seating and interior lighting touch free. The system, unlike onlookers, can distinguish between the driver and passenger’s wishes.
The engine range is expected to mirror the new CLA coupe’s initial range. A 180d automatic with an automatic gearbox is the diesel option for now. It produces 116hp and 260nm from its 1.5 litre (1461cc) engine. 0-100km/h takes a modest 11 seconds. On the upside it is very frugal at the pumps averaging 4.1l/100km (69mpg). Four petrol options start with the a six speed manual 180. It pushes out 136hp and 200nm and takes 9.6 seconds to 100km/h. Average fuel consumption is 5.8l/100km (49.7mpg). Sharing the same 1.3 litre (1332cc) engine with the 180 the 200 7G-DCT automatic has 163hp and 250nm. 0-100 takes 8.4 seconds and at the pump you’ll average 5.7l/100km (49.5mpg). A 2 litre (1991cc) engine powers the more indulgent 190hp 220 model and 224hp 250 model, both are 7 speed automatics.
On the roads outside Mercedes-Benz German HQ in Stuttgart we tested the most powerful diesel the 220d should become available in Ireland at a later date. The 8 speed automatic pushes out 190hp and an impressive 400nm of torque. Hauling loads won’t slow you down. 0-100km/h takes 7.2 seconds – only slightly slower than the 220 petrol. At the pumps the 220d’s average fuel consumption is quoted at 4.5l/100km (62.7 mpg). The ride quality and smooth power delivery was a pleasant surprise in such a compact car. You can sit nice and low up front to enhance a sporty feeling but when stopped I tried to sit behind my driver’s seat and while I had sufficient headroom my poor knees were rammed-up against the hard plastic seat back.
Back in the driver’s seat the optional head up display allowed more eyes on the road time and the steering felt fluid and geared for relaxed cruising. When provoked the turbo diesel proved very brisk and dynamic. Selectable drive modes delivered the expected driving characteristics with eco, comfort and sport available. The standard Shooting Brake can get adaptive damping aka active suspension as an option and I’d recommend it. The active suspension on our test car adjusted the ride characteristic to match the driving mode selected and helped deliver that premium feel one expects from the three pointed star. In cars without the trick suspension only the engine response, steering weight and ESP assistance get tweaked with each driving mode.