Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake review

RAC Breakdown Cover

RAC Breakdown Cover

Complete peace of mind for just £7 a month.

RAC Breakdown Cover

Mercedes-Benz has lightly updated the second generation version of its CLA Shooting Brake, a small estate with big aspirations. Jonathan Crouch reports.

Ten Second Review

Mercedes-Benz certainly didn't play safe with this second generation CLA Shooting Brake, giving it the sort of bold, exciting styling that characterises its four-door Coupe stablemate. Look a little closer and you'll realise that the slinky roofline is a clever slight of hand from the stylists and there's real practicality on offer. Here's the lightly revised versoion of this second generation model.

Background

Like its predecessor, this second generation CLA Shooting Brake aims to offer a stylised interpretation of what a small estate should be. The original version was launched back in 2015 to sell alongside the stylised four-door coupe CLA; this MK2 model arrived in the Summer of 2019 and delivered a high-tech cabin that Mercedes reckoned took screen and infotainment technology to the next level. It gots a slightly bigger boot too. Three and a half years on, the brand has carefully improved this car with mild hybrid tech and smarter trimming.

Driving Experience

Mercedes markets this car as a 'sporty' alternative to its more conventional C-Class Estate. The CLA Shooting Brake's sporty styling leads you to expect that. Though this car shares its chassis, steering and braking architecture with A and B-Class models, it does get its own suspension set-up, with various changes made to improve comfort and make it a bit less crashy over poorer surfaces. There's torque vectoring to help with the handling and 'Direct Steering' to sharpen things up at the helm.

Probably the most significant change with this updated version of the MK2 CLA Shooting Brake is that all the mainstream petrol engines now come with the brand's 48V mild hybrid system including the usual MHEV belt-driven starter-generator: that'll give you a 13hp boost when moving off. There are five mainstream engines, all of them four cylinder units mated to 7-speed auto transmission. As before, the petrol powerplant portfolio kicks off with a 1.4-litre unit, only available with front wheel drive and offered with either 136hp (in the CLA 180) or 163hp (in the CLA 200). Mercedes also offers a 2.0-litre mainstream petrol variant that must be had with 4MATIC 4WD; the 224hp CLA 250, which makes 62mph in just 6.4s en route to 155mph.

If efficiency is key, you'll be interested to know that there are still diesel alternatives, all using the same 2.0-litre four cylinder engine mated to 8-speed auto transmission; the CLA 180 d with 114hp, the CLA 200 d with 148hp and the CLA 220 d with 188hp. If you need efficiency but don't want to fuel from the black pump, you'll be interested to know that, as before, the CLA range also provides a Plug-in Hybrid option, in the form of the CLA 250 e. As previously, this uses a 1.33-litre engine mated to a revised 15.6kWh battery. The powertrain has a system output of 218hp and an improved all-electric driving range of up to 51 miles (an 8 mile improvement on before).

As in the pre-facelift line-up, there are also two high performance Mercedes-AMG 2.0-litre turbo petrol models, the CLA 35 4MATIC (with 306hp which gains the 48V mild hybrid system); and the top CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ (with 421hp, which doesn't).

Design and Build

The update exterior changes here are subtle: a reshaping for the front bumper and radiator grille, a revised rear diffuser and 'modernised graphics' within the LED headlamp clusters. Wheel sizes range from 17 to 19-inches. Otherwise, things are much as before. Mercedes says that the CLA Shooting Brake is 'a designer car', referring to its elegant proportions: a long bonnet, coupe-like window lines, muscular shoulders over the rear wheel arch and a supplely crouched rear, which is intended to show sports car genes. The outline of the frameless windows is identical to the outline of the Coupe's up to the B-pillar. This MK2 model is 48mm longer than the original, plus it's 53mm wider but 2mm lower. The flat headlamps, the low-slung bonnet and the diamond radiator grille with the central star mark the typical Mercedes-Benz sports car look.

The cabin's very similar to that of an A-Class - and in this updated form features most of the changes lately made to that more mundane model. Which means that the 10.25-inch instrument screen has new display styles - 'Classic', 'Sporty' and 'Discreet'. The USB ports are now illuminated, there's now a nappa leather-trimmed steering wheel, ARTICO-trimmed 'comfort' seats and on most models, you now get wireless connectivity for the 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring system. This works with a 10.25-inch touchscreen media centre display.

As before, the interior of the passenger compartment is identical to that of the CLA Coupe. Both models offer unique cabin architecture, primarily thanks to their avant-garde instrument panel: the widescreen display is completely free-standing with no hood on the wing-shaped main body of the instrument panel. This stretches continuously from one front door to the other. As for the back seat, well two adults would be slightly more comfortable here than they would be in a CLA Coupe - but not much. Out back, at 871 millimetres, the boot opening wider than you might expect for such a stylised and the luggage area measures in at 505-litres.

Market and Model

Expect to pay somewhere in the £36,000 to £44,000 bracket for this CLA Shooting Brake - and anything between £45,000-£65,000 if you want one of the high performance Mercedes-AMG variants. In the mainstream range, there's a choice of three trim levels - 'AMG Line Executive', 'AMG Line Premium' and 'AMG Line Premium Plus Night Edition'. Even base 'AMG Line Executive' models come decently equipped, standard kit including the MBUX multimedia system that includes 'Hey Mercedes' voice recognition and is accessed through a 10.25-inch centre-dash touchscreen. This incorporates navigation, a DAB radio and smartphone integration, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There's also a 10.25-inch instrument display, LED high performance headlights, privacy glass, Thermotronic luxury two-zone automatic climate control, a Parking package and heated front seats with leather upholstery. Standard safety features include Active Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Assist. 'AMG Line Premium' trim adds a larger 10.25-inch digital cockpit display, a dash cam, ambient lighting with a choice of 64 colours and keyless entry. Finally 'AMG Line Premium Plus' spec adds a panoramic sliding sunroof, Multibeam LED headlights, memory seats for the driver and front passenger and an 'Energizing pack' which uses a number of the car's systems to boost driver fitness and wellbeing.

Cost of Ownership

The CLA Shooting Brake almost replicates the economy and emissions figures of the CLA Coupe, which means it's very, very good indeed. The kerb weight goes up slightly and, rather surprisingly, the drag coefficent of the Shooting Brake isn't quite as good. Still, it's hard to complain when you have a practical and stylish Mercedes-Benz estate that can return WLTP figures like the ones quoted here. You'd expect such an aerodynamic production car to deliver an ultra-competitive set of running costs, so let's get to the WLTP figures. The CLA 180 and CLA 200 Shooting Brake variants can deliver up to 46.3mpg on the combined cycle and 136g/km of CO2. And the CLA 250 4MATIC model can deliver up to 41.5mpg and emit 160g/km of CO2. The CLA 180 d diesel Shooting Brake manages up to 57.7mpg and 135g/km - it's 132g/km for the 200d and 133g/km for the 220d. The CLA 250 e Plug-in Hybrid petrol Shooting Brake model now puts out just 19g/km of CO2 in Coupe form - and charges quicker too, its previous 7.4kW charging limit now upped to 11kW. This means that it now takes only around 25 minutes to charge the battery up to 80% (improved from an hour and three-quarters).

What else? Well it's worth knowing that your maintenance outlay can be kept a little in check by going for the optional 'Service Care' package that takes care of routine maintenance, spreading the cost of regular servicing, guaranteeing the price of parts and labour for up to four services and covering the cost of all recommended service items such as brake fluid, spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters and screen wash. There's also an ASSYST dashboard service indicator that monitors engine use and tells you exactly when a garage visit is due. It's also worth mentioning that the included 'Mercedes me' connect services package includes remote self-diagnostic capability, enabling your CLA to monitor wear and tear items and alert your local dealer to let you know if something needs seeing to.

Summary

The CLA is a key model for Mercedes. Bluntly put, it's a car that appeals to customers who'd never normally think of buying from the brand. They might feel that 'typical' Benzes are too staid and conservative, but the CLA is cut from some pretty funky cloth and the Shooting Brake is anything but traditional Stuttgart tackle.

The engineering beneath the car is hard to fault, especially in this updated form. Plus the equipment you get is impressive, the pricing looks on the button but that styling? Whether you warm to the CLA Shooting Brake in this second generation form is clearly going to depend on whether you agree with Mercedes that it delivers "a contemporary interpretation of sensual purity" or whether you think it's just too odd for words. We like it here. Your opinion may vary.

RAC Breakdown Cover

Join the RAC and get Breakdown Cover. Our patrols fix most breakdowns on the spot, with repairs done in just 30 minutes on average.

RAC Breakdown Cover
RAC Breakdown Cover