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The second generation Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake offers a sexy appeal with big-boot(y) practicality.

13 Feb 2020


In the early 90s, a gleaming white Mercedes-Benz sedan was a sign of some serious wealth.

That quickly changed when taxi companies started putting out white Mercedes cabs on our roads. As a result, you rarely saw an E-Class in white, and this trickled down to the rest of the model range.

It is now 2020, and that stigma has subsided. There are more white Mercs on our roads, and Mercedes isn't just making luxury sedans either, with its large product offensive of compact cars and crossovers. And, yes, you can have one in yellow!

That looks familiar...

The CLA Shooting Brake combines the practicality of a wagon, with a coupe-like silhouette
This is the CLA Shooting Brake, and it looks very much like the CLA Coupe, a car you've seen reviewed twice on this website.

Adding on to the deja vu is the A-Class Hatchback and Sedan, both sharing the similarly sharp tiger snout up front. Amongst these cars, the changes mainly happen at the rear of the car.

It's the same for the CLA Shooting Brake. The swooping, coupe-like silhouette is indeed sensuous and elegant, and meets at the end of the car to a larger greenhouse.

This is Mercedes' answer for what is essentially a four-door 'coupe-wagon'. Cutting a cleaner, more defined silhouette than the previous generation, there's nothing quite like this combination.

It looks just like the CLA Coupe, and even shares the same length and width
While looking visibly longer, it shares the exact same exterior dimensions as the CLA Coupe except for height. The Shooting Brake is 3mm taller than the Coupe.

Swanky looks inside and out

The swanky lines hide an impressive interior we've spoken fondly of in our various A-Class, B-Class, and CLA Coupe reviews. Yes, it is the same here too, which is good news.

The two 10.25-inch screens combine to form what essentially is a widescreen theatre for the car. Connectivity options include Apple CarPlay, but that doesn't make use of all the glorious 10.25-inch real estate.

Inside, there is tons of visual appeal, with the two 10.25-inch displays that compliment the ambient lighting effects well
While a visual treat, they aren't very user-friendly. Things such as track seek requires a swipe horizontally on the centre console, but do the same on the touch-sensitive steering wheel controls and you end up swiping through menus. This is all too confusing.

But the biggest talk in this space is, well, that the car can talk. The Mercedes-Benz User Interface (MBUX) that powers the infotainment system has voice-activated features. You can tell the car to bring down the air-con temperature, for example.

Apparently, the system learns from your inputs, and adapts to the needs and wants of the driver. Cool, but it doesn't have pre-loaded maps. Asking MBUX to "show the map" puts it in a continuous loop of apologising for not getting it and giving you hints of what to say, which includes "showing the map".

Practicality big

The 505-litre boot along with its wide berth are a major improvement over the previous generation
That said, there is still a lot to like about the CLA Shooting Brake.

Rear headroom isn't exactly great in the CLA Coupe, but it is more than adequate in the Shooting Brake. Here, it works better for three in the rear.

And, of course, the boot. At 505 litres, it is a good 85 litres bigger than the A-Class Sedan. The wider boot opening also solves the problem the previous generation Shooting Brake had, offering easier entry for odd-shaped items. Fold the seats flat and you have a good 1,370 litres of boot to spare.

More practicality, but same drive?

The same 1.33-litre turbocharged lump feels less droney at high revs when compared to the A-Class and CLA Coupe, thanks to a better sounding exhaust
The powerplant is the same. The 1.33-litre turbocharged engine puts out 161bhp and 250Nm to the front wheels, good for a 8.4 second century sprint.

Despite the reasonable power output, our gripe with this powerplant is how it sounds rough and unwilling past 3,000rpm. But in the Shooting Brake, it doesn't seem so.

Get the revs up and the Shooting Brake lets out an audible, throaty exhaust note. This works better than hearing the uninspired engine, and gives the car a better character overall.

This could be due to the wagon's bigger greenhouse, allowing the exhaust to resonate through the cabin. Keep the revs below 2,000rpm and the car cruises quietly with zero drama, something one would expect from Mercedes.

The well-weighted flat-bottomed steering wheel is a delight to hold
And despite sharing the same underpinnings, it rides better than the Coupe, too. Through dips and undulations, the Shooting Brake seems less susceptible to diving and crashing when compared to its sibling.

Practicality and style for a price?

As a premium, four-door 'coupe-wagon', the CLA technically has no competitor. As a stylish wagon? Yes. It's the Volvo V60.

The Volvo wagon, in its T4 Momentum trim, will set you back $172,000. The CLA Shooting Brake, on the other hand, is going for $191,888 (as of 30 January 2020).

There is a lot to like about the CLA Shooting Brake, offering big-boot practicality with boatloads of style
Yes, $19,888 extra for a smaller car is a tough number to swallow. And wagon practicality doesn't have to come with the price.

But the Shooting Brake is more than just about price and size. In fact, it's far from that. Not only does the car manage to seamlessly integrate its seductive coupe-like silhouette along with the added space for practicality, its three-pointed star badge is what makes the car that much more desirable. And if we were to have it our way, the $20k extra is well-worth the price.

Just don't get flagged for the colour.
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Car Information

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Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Shooting Brake CLA200 AMG Line (A)
Rate it

Price

: $191,888

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1332cc

Horsepower

:

120kW (161 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

250 Nm / 4000 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) DCT

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

8.4sec

Top Speed

:

226km/h

Fuel consumption

:

17.5 km/L

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