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Mercedes-Benz CLA shooting brake 2015 review: road test

EXPERT RATING
8
Craig Duff road tests and reviews the 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict at its Australian launch.

Benz's small car goes practical with a half-hatch, half-wagon version. The absence of a rear lid won't stop the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake from putting the boot into the competition.

The fifth model in Benz's small car line-up is half-hatch, half-wagon and, compared with the CLA Coupe on which it is based, it is a fundamentally better proposition.

Subjectively, its styling hardens up the "droopy" rear end of the four-door coupe. The 42mm of extra rear headroom, larger rear doors, bigger and better-accessed load space and softer shock absorbers can be objectively appreciated.

Proving practicality isn't necessarily a driving factor at this end of the market, Benz doesn't expect the shooting brake to mirror the coupe's success. And the coupe has been a hit by any measure. It has already found homes in 1247 garages this year, putting it ahead of the Audi A4, which is in itself a fairly convincing car.

The company line is the shooting brake gives buyers a bit more space without having to stretch to a C-Class wagon. Owners will pay $1500 over the comparable coupe for the four versions of the shooting brake.

Prices start at $52,400 for the CLA 200, which comes with semi-autonomous emergency braking, blind-sport alert, eight-inch infotainment screen with satnav, reversing camera and automated tailgate. Opt for the similarly equipped diesel CLA200 CDI and the entry cost is $52,900.

The pick of the range in terms of price and performance is the CLA250 Sport 4Matic. As the name suggests, it has all-wheel-drive to boost grip and adds an AMG-enhanced drivetrain, sportier stability control setting, powered and heated front seats, electric sunroof and upgraded trim.

The "diamond-studded" front grille won't do it any harm when buyers walk into showrooms, either.

The CLA Shooting Brake has a notably more supple ride than the coupe

The hero is the CLA45 AMG 4Matic at $89,900. The visual upgrades run to more aggressive front and rear bumpers and 19-inch rims but buyers are investing in the mechanical updates, communicated to the world via the AMG badge. There are three stability control settings, upgraded suspension, beefier brakes and 2.0-litre turbo that tears the wheels off sports cars for fun, as the 100km/h time of 4.7 seconds will attest.

Driving

The CLA Shooting Brake has a notably more supple ride than the coupe.

The springs are the same but the dampers have been softened to allow for the load-lugging potential and that has had the effect of taking the initial hit out of small, square-edged bumps.

The AMG versions — including the CLA250 — are a better ride again, courtesy of different suspension tune and the performance division's refusal to fit its variants with the run-flat tyres regular Benzes roll on.

Dimensions mirror those of the coupe, as does the interior fitout, from the tablet-style screen to the semisoft trim in the most conspicuous and most contacted areas of the cabin. Look lower down and harder plastics hint at cost-cutting in the less obvious areas of the fascia.

No complaints about the steering wheel or drive position, though. The front seats are a comfortable place regardless of time or distance spent in them.

The rear seats — described by Benz as a "2+1" layout — are supportive but there isn't quite enough legroom to accommodate long-limbed bodies for long distances.

Verdict

The CLA Shooting Brake joins the GLA as the most practical of Benz's small car fleet. It looks smart, rides well and will carry four adults without requiring orthopedic intervention.

At this price, though, I'd chase the bank for another $7000 to get behind the wheel of a C-Class with similar features and a better interior fitout.

Pricing Guides

$48,686
Based on 124 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$32,000
Highest Price
$67,868

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
CLA200 1.6L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $32,000 – 39,990 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class 2015 CLA200 Pricing and Specs
CLA45 AMG 2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $47,888 – 67,868 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class 2015 CLA45 AMG Pricing and Specs
CLA200 CDI 2.1L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO $29,810 – 35,860 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class 2015 CLA200 CDI Pricing and Specs
CLA200 Edition One 1.6L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $31,790 – 38,280 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class 2015 CLA200 Edition One Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
8
Pricing Guide

$32,990

Lowest price, based on 6 car listings in the last 6 months

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