Strictly speaking, Mercedes’ new CLS Shooting Brake is not a shooting brake at all. It would only be allowed one door on either side to qualify for that historic segment - and as you can clearly see, there are two on each side here. Strictly speaking, this is a station wagon.
But I can understand why Mercedes has avoided that wording (and even its own “Estate” terminology) like the plague, because it would be a travesty to associate this car with the generic, squared off, fun-stopping genre station wagons are often pigeonholed into. Simply put, wagons are for drivers who have relinquished all driving enthusiasm for get-the-groceries, walk-the-dog, family-dom. But the CLS Shooting Brake isn’t.
At its international launch held in Italy last week, Mercedes said this is a car for people who need some extra space but don’t want to compromise emotion. And it is. While an E-Class Estate will trump the CLS Shooting Brake in terms of overall stowage capacity, this newcomer has style dripping from curves and contours that an everyday E-Class couldn’t dream of.
WOOLIES AND A LABRADOR
The window line in side profile exaggerates the slope of the rear end, making it look somewhat coupé or shooting brake-like, but if you look at the levelness of the roof panel you can see just how station wagon it is in silhouette.
Obviously you can stash much more gear in here than in a normal CLS in sedan trim - almost 1000 litres more to be precise - but it’s the shallow angle of the rear hatch that prevents the full 1950 litres of its E-Class Estate sibling. The CLS Shooting Brake’s boot can hold 1500 litres with the rear seats folded down. Where an E-Class is Makro and a Saint Bernard, a Shooting Brake is Woolies and a Labrador.
Luxurious extras are virtually the same as in normal CLS and E-Class models, so things like selectable mood light colouring, night vision, heated and cooled seats, 14-speaker sound systems by either Bang and Olufsen or Harmon/Kardon, and the ability to parallel park with no hands are all possible
But the Shooting Brake gets one optional extravagance not possible in any other Merc. For around R50 000 (SA pricing is not yet available) the floor of the Shooting Brake’s boot area can be made of American cherry wood with smoked oak inlays.
It’s one of the classiest luggage compartments I’ve ever seen, but despite a protective cover and aluminium slide strips I wouldn’t let my Saint Bernard, Lab or any other clawed animal near it.
We’ll get the new Shooting Brake this December in three derivatives starting with a 225kW/370Nm CLS 350 with a 3.5-litre petrol V6. Middle spec is a 4.7-litre biturbo V8 with 300kW and 600Nm badged as a CLS 500, and top dog is, as usual, a CLS 63 AMG with 386kW and 700Nm on offer from a 5.5-litre biturbo V8. This can be upped to 410 and 800 with an optional “Edition 1” package that, besides an increase in power, adds some specific interior trimmings.
Diesel and all-wheel drive 4Matic models will not be sold in our market.
The term shooting brake (or break) originated in the 1800s to describe carriages used to haul hunting parties that included men, guns and dogs. A brake was initially a chassis used to break-in horses. The term evolved into what we know know as two-door coupés with a rear hatch area.
Proper shooting brakes include Volvo’s P1800 ES and the first generation BMW M Coupe. -Star Motoring