Volkswagen Passat sedan 2015 review
Jack Pyefinch road tests and reviews the all-new Passat at its international launch.
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Mercedes-Benz has added a third body style to its A-Class range. The CLA Shooting Brake, an interesting title for what others would call a station wagon, joins the existing five-door hatch and four-door sedan. It's unusual for three versions of the same body to be offered to buyers, but given the overall style of the A-Class we can certainly understand the decision.
Quite a large vehicle, the CLA Shooting Brake is similar in size to the recently superseded Mercedes C-Class models. However, the new C-Class has increased in size leaving space for the A-Class underneath it. There's no way buyers can complain about lack of choice in Mercedes' showrooms...
An advantage of the extra length of the roof is added headroom in the back seat.
Style is what Mercedes are all about these days; the sedate, designed for older people Mercs, are a thing of the past. Nowhere does this show up more than in the shape of the CLA Shooting Brake. It takes a fascinating route halfway between a wagon and a coupe. Stretching a coupe to provide a practical rear end isn't easy, but the boys and girls at Benz have done an excellent job.
An advantage of the extra length of the roof is added headroom in the back seat. Whereas the CLA sedan isn't too tight, it is verging on being so for someone with my six-foot height, the Shooting Brake's extra few centimetres above your head do make a difference.
Luggage space is obviously up, even more importantly the big power-operated lifting tailgate provides ease of loading you just don't get in a sedan / coupe. With the rear seats in their standard position the Shooting Brake has a volume of 495 litres. If the seatbacks are set into an upright position (which reduces comfort somewhat) the load area goes up to a very hand 595 litres. Naturally, the seatbacks can be folded to add carrying capacity. A maximum of 1354 litres is offered. There a ski flap to allow through loading of long thin objects.
Mercedes-Benz Australia is very serious about the CLA Shooting Brake as it's importing a big variety of models. These begin with the $52,400 CLA 200 with a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine with 115 kW of power and 250 Nm of torque.
Next up the list is the turbo-diesel CLA 200 CDI powered by a 2.1-litre engine maxing out at 100 kW and 300 Nm, the latter all the way from 1200 to 4000 revs.
Now comes an interesting model, the CLA 250 Sport with Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. Though many Mercedes AWD models are sold overseas in cold-climate countries they have seldom been imported to Australia as they are chiefly built to run in icy and snowy conditions.
However, because the 45 AMG Shooting Brake (more about it in a moment) already uses 4Matic the decision was made to offer it in a standard model. Mercedes-Benz Australia feels local drivers see AWD as adding a touch of class to cars, even if they don't intend to use it on slippery surfaces.
Topping out the Shooting Brake lineup is the 45 AMG. One of our all time favourite cars in hatchback format, the 45 has an incredible 265 kilowatts of power and 450 Nm of torque from a high-tech 2.0-litre turbo-petrol. The torque spread runs all the way from 2250 to 5000 revs so there's grunt on tap virtually all the time. Love it – particularly when sprinting from rest to 100 km/h in a staggering 4.7 seconds, not bad for a voluminous station wagon.
We spent time driving each of the CLA Shooting Brake variants in a drive program from Melbourne airport to the Yarra Valley and return. Though we didn't spend a lot of time in any one vehicle we came away impressed by the smoothness and quietness of the standard CLA models and their ability to provide relaxed transport in ‘normal' driving. They are also capable of being hustled along winding, hilly roads at speeds that will delight the driver – though perhaps have passengers wishing for less.
Coarse-chip Australian backroads did create added road noise, but the German suspension people finally seem to have come to grips with these surfaces and it's less intrusive in the CLA than we had anticipated.
Then there's the $89,900 45 AMG hotshot. It's not quite as comfortable in its ride as the standard CLA due to its unashamedly sporting suspension, but is still acceptable for all but a pampered few.
The AMG's engine performance is exceptional and once minor turbo lag has passed the response is magnificent. Overtaking is swift and safe and hills no longer exist. Road grip is huge and steering response is of the type that brings smiles to faces of keen drivers.
All-new Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake offers style, performance and versatility that seem sure to make it a big seller in its class.
|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|