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Beijing show: Another Benz wagon

Fast back: Mercedes-Benz puts its back into a new concept that is set to go public at the Beijing motor show.

Mercedes explores another niche as Shooting Break concept previews CLS Estate

21 Apr 2010

BMW has its 5 Series GT, Audi will soon have its A7 and now it appears Mercedes-Benz eventually also will have its CLS Estate.

Although it’s only a concept, the so-called Shooting Break, which makes its global debut at the Beijing motor show on Friday, is a clear indication that Mercedes intends to produce a wagon derivative of its second-generation CLS sedan, which is itself expected to appear in final production guise at the Paris motor show in September.

The original CLS might not have invented the modern ‘four-door coupe’ craze – that honour goes the Maserati Quattroporte, which emerged a year earlier than the Benz in 2003 – and automotive history books are littered with similar fastback sedan designs.

But the sleek sedan’s success appears to have been sufficient for Benz to deem a CLS Estate worthy of production, with the Shooting Break previewing yet another niche model from the German luxury brand.

Apart from representing what could become Mercedes’ fifth wagon model – after the C-class, E-class, R-class, M-class and GL-class, but not counting the A-class or B-class hatches or the Viano van – the Shooting Brake presents a new design direction for the historic marque.

4 center image It may come with four conventional doors and a rear tailgate, but the Shooting Break is said to be inspired by the British tradition of custom-built, two-door wagon model.

More significantly, it features a derivation of the ‘soft nose’ treatment first seen on the new SLS AMG ‘gullwing’ super-coupe and comprising a gaping front grille, which is expected to appear on a range of future Mercedes models.

“The Shooting Break is based on a tradition of cultivated sportiness,” said Mercedes-Benz chief designer Gorden Wagener. “At the same time it points the way towards the further development of the design idiom of Mercedes.” Following the 2008 Fascination concept and this year’s F800 Style concept from the Geneva motor show, the Shooting Break is slightly larger than the current 219-series CLS but similar in size to its upcoming replacement, measuring 4960mm long, 1950mm wide and 1444mm tall.

Like its wheelbase, the new car’s door apertures have also grown, improving rear-seat ingress/egress, while the Shooting Break’s unique rear-end features a fast-sloping rear window mounted within a traditional top-hinged tailgate.

New technologies are headlined by full LED headlights, which comprise 71 light emitting diodes that serve for both low and high-beam functions. Expect the striking but expensive front lighting system to make its production debut on the new CLS, but it remains to be seen whether the Shooting Break’s LED tail-lights will also be seen ex-factory.

Inside, the vast new Mercedes wagon comes with just four seats, with both the front and rear pairs separated by a full-length centre console, while rear luggage space won’t be as plentiful as in the new E-class Estate, which like the latest E-class sedan also shares its large rear-drive chassis with the new CLS sedan and wagon.

The Shooting Break does, however, feature a long, flat rear cargo area that is sumptuously finished in a combination of dark oak and solid aluminium rails, straddled by large storage compartments on both sides.

The plush oak finish extends the front of the leather-lined passenger cell, which provides a preview of what to expect from the new CLS interior, albeit with switchgear from the current 211-series E-class sedan.

The Shooting Break is powered by Mercedes’ new direct-injection 3.5-litre petrol V6 which delivers 225kW of power and 370Nm of torque – up from 200kW/350Nm in the current port-injection Benz V6.

The new V6 is expected to be joined by a new 4.6-litre petrol V8 developing around 325kW. Like AMG’s new 6.2-litre V8-replacing twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 - which will debut in the facelifted CL coupe later this year, when it will be renamed the S-class Coupe) – the 4.6 features low-pressure turbocharging and direct-injection to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by a claimed 25 per cent.

Two existing common-rail turbo-diesel engines are also likely to be offered in both CLS models – at least in Europe – including a twin-turbo 2.1-litre four-cylinder offering around 150kW and a single-turbo 3.0-litre V6 with around 172kW.

All CLS engines – including the option of an even more powerful 420kW version of the CLS63 AMG’s 400kW twin-turbo 5.5-litre V8 – will come with an upgraded version of Mercedes’ seven-speed 7G-tronic automatic transmission, this time incorporating a fuel-saving idle-stop function.

While the Shooting Brake represents Mercedes’ headline act at the Beijing show, China’s largest motor show will this year also play host to world debuts of the sold-out Ferrari 599 GTO, a Chevrolet Volt people-mover concept, an all-new Ford concept, a fresh Phaeton limousine from Volkswagen, the facelifted Maybach range, Porsche’s new entry-level Porsche Panamera V6 and long wheelbase versions of the Audi A8 and BMW 5 Series.

Apart from a plethora of new models from most of China’s 47 domestic car-makers, a surprise new concept from BMW is also expected to debut this week in Beijing.

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