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Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake Review: 2015 CLA 200, CLA 250 Sport, CLA 45 AMG - Practical And Pretty In One Package Photo:
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Tony O'Kane | Jun, 12 2015 | 4 Comments

What's hot: Compelling style, powerful AMG variant, extra interior space
What's not: Not exactly cheap, some low speed transmission refinement lacking
X-FACTOR: The most attractive member of Mercedes-Benz’s small-car family, by a significant margin.

Vehicle style: Small luxury wagon.

Price:

CLA 200 $52,400
CLA 200 CDI $52,900
CLA 250 Sport 4Matic $66,400
CLA 45 AMG 4Matic $89,900

Engines/transmissions:

CLA 200: 115kW/250Nm 1.6 turbo petrol 4cyl | 7sp twin-clutch auto
CLA 200 CDI: 100kW/300Nm 2.1 turbo diesel 4cyl | 7sp twin-clutch auto
CLA 250 Sport: 155kW/350Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 7sp twin-clutch auto
CLA 45 AMB: 265kW/450Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 7sp twin-clutch auto

Fuel consumption, l/100km:

CLA 200 CDI claimed: 4.3 | tested: 7.6
CLA 200 claimed: 6.0 | (not tested)
CLA 250 Sport claimed: 6.8 | tested: 9.8
CLA 45 AMG claimed: 7.2 | tested: 12.5 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

If they haven’t already put their hands up, Mercedes-Benz designers might be thinking a nice little bonus is in order. Why? Well, look at the CLA Shooting Brake, the shapely companion to Benz’s smallest “four-door coupe” and the latest addition to its local line-up.

This is one attractive car. The wagonification of Benz's CLA sedan has seen that car's dumpy rear turfed in favour of a fuller, more practical booty, and it ties in well with the rest of the CLA's bodywork.

But is it a wagon? Well no, hence the "shooting brake" moniker.

The definition of that term is a hotly debated one, but, for this car, we'll boil it down like this: it’s not quite big enough to be a station wagon, but it’s appreciably bigger than the average hatchback.

The roofline isn’t long enough for proper wagon status, and though it’s bigger in the boot than an A-Class it’s more hatchlike than wagon. Nevertheless, it’s an attractive hatch to look at, and it apes the glamorous style of the bigger CLS Shooting Brake so well.

It also comes with the bonus of being substantially more practical than the CLA sedan, thanks to improved rear headroom and, of course, that more capacious rump.

And after half a day behind the wheel, we can comfortably declare the Shooting Brake to be preferable to its four-door sibling.

 

INTERIOR

  • Standard equipment: Dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlamps, cruise control, power tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, keyless ignition, reversing camera, gearshift paddles, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, (for full equipment list, see our product rundown)
  • Infotainment: 8-inch colour display with rotary controller, satellite navigation, six-speaker stereo with USB audio inputs and Bluetooth audio/phone integration.
  • Boot capacity: 495 litres minimum, 1354 litres maximum

From the B-pillar forward, this will be familiar territory to any CLA sedan driver. The steering wheel is new, but the dash, centre stack, centre console and infotainment screen (which looks like a stuck-on iPad Mini) are identical.

The more noticeable changes are in the back. Legroom is unchanged, but the Shooting Brake’s higher roofline liberates 42mm of headroom.

While this scribe’s scalp was in contact with the headlining in the CLA sedan, there’s more than enough breathing space in the back of the Shooting Brake unless you’re a very tall individual.

Getting in and out of the back seat is also easier thanks to larger rear door openings, though you’ll still need to duck to avoid clocking your noggin on the door frame. Form still dominates function with the Shooting Brake.

And though the roof does feel awkwardly close at times, the cabin ambience in the back of the CLA Shooting Brake is much more welcoming than the CLA sedan.

While the sedan is claustrophobic, the Shooting Brake feels more open thanks to bigger door glass and rear quarter windows.

The Shooting Brake’s boot measures 495 litres with the rear seats up (amazingly, 5 litres more than a C-Class wagon) and 1354 litres with the rear seats folded down (156L less than a C-Class wagon).

The opening is narrow though, and the low roof height means tall objects will be difficult to squeeze in.

There’s additional storage under the false floor, but if you want to spec a space saver spare (cans of goo or run-flats are standard), it has to live above the floor.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • CLA 200: 115kW/250Nm 1.6 turbo petrol 4cyl | 7sp twin-clutch auto
    CLA 200 CDI: 100kW/300Nm 2.1 turbo diesel 4cyl | 7sp twin-clutch auto
    CLA 250 Sport: 155kW/350Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 7sp twin-clutch auto
    CLA 45 AMB: 265kW/450Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 7sp twin-clutch auto

  • CLA 200 and CLA 200 CDI: front wheel drive
  • CLA 250 Sport and CLA 45 AMG: all-wheel drive
  • MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension
  • Electric power steering
  • Disk brakes

The on-road differences between sedan and Shooting Brake are minimal, though the latter carries an extra 30kg over its rear axle and has a retuned suspension to suit.

But through the wheel, it feels virtually the same as the CLA sedan.

The engine line-up is also identical. Starting with the 115kW/250Nm 1.6 litre turbo in the CLA 200 and stretching to the slightly berserk 265kW/450Nm 2.0 litre turbo in the CLA 45 AMG, the CLA Shooting Brake’s engine range is rather broad.

In between the CLA 200 and CLA 45 are the 100kW/300Nm 2.1 litre turbo diesel of the CLA 200 CDI - the sole diesel option - and the 155kW/350Nm 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder of the CLA 250 Sport.

The CLA 250 Sport and CLA 45 AMG variants also score Benz’s 4Matic AWD driveline as standard, which takes power to all four wheels via a variable-split centre differential.

Echoing Benz’s experience with the CLA sedan, the CLA 250 Sport is expected to become the most popular member of the Shooting Brake family. Little surprise, given its AMG-enhanced styling package, lowered suspension and hot-hatch rivalling handling.

But, as with the sedan, the CLA Shooting Brake suffers from a twin-clutch automatic that isn’t as well-resolved as those used by, say, Audi.

It struggles with low-speed engagement (such as when crawling through traffic), and can be pretty jerky at times. It’s fine once you’re in motion, but some extra calibration work wouldn’t go astray here.

We only had a few hours to sample each engine variant over a short loop, but a more in-depth on-road analysis of the Shooting Brake will come later. Stay tuned.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5-Stars. The CLA sedan scored 36.16 out of a possible 37 points.

Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist. Passenger protection is provided by three-point seatbelts and nine airbags (dual, front, side for front and rear, full-length curtain, driver’s knee).

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

When it comes to choosing between the Shooting Brake and the CLA sedan, we’d be picking the Shooting Brake. That’s despite the Shooting Brake’s $1500 premium.

Not only does it look better (to this writer’s eyes anyway), but it offers more comfortable accommodation and space for back seat passengers, and will also swallow up a lot more of their cargo.

That also means more room for baby-seats and associated paraphernalia and more elbow room when buckling in, and buckling out.

But for a smallish wagon it sure ain’t what you’d call cheap.

Every model costs north of $50k, and that’s a fair chunk of change for a slightly swollen luxury hatchback. It’s a good thing, then, that that CLA Shooting Brake has no real rivals.

MORE: Mercedes-Benz | CLA | Prestige

 
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