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Group love for Benz CLA Shooting Brake

Sport star: The 250 Sport gets rorty exhaust and 2.0-litre turbo power, with some AMG trickery to boot.

Mercedes-AMG gives Benz's CLA250 Sport Shooting Brake the ol’ 45 treatment

13 Mar 2015

By TIM ROBSON in FRANKFURT

MERCEDES-AMG engineers have not only worked their magic on the new CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake, they have turned the spanners onto the Mercedes Benz CLA250 Sport, as well.

Based on the CLA Coupe, which is built off Mercedes' small-car MFA architecture, the diminutive Shooting Brake is identical to the Coupe from the B-pillars forward, but the addition of 30kg of extra weight over the rear turrets necessitated some important tweaks to the wagon’s suspension package.

Mercedes-AMG’s head of compact car development Steffan Jastrow told GoAuto at the vehicle’s launch in Frankfurt, Germany that the front end of the 250 Sport 4Matic had seen the most benefit from AMG’s chassis development upgrades.

“The front (hub) knuckles on the 250 Sport are the same as that on the A45. It provides more camber stiffness to the front end,” he explained. “We have also provided the front and rear axles.”

The knuckles are also known as front hub carriers. The large cast-alloy pieces also carry shock and brake mounts. Making these items stiffer translates into more consistent steering feel and bump absorption.

The 250 Sport’s shock absorbers are also AMG-branded items, but are not from the 45.

“We built the dampers in-house for the (250 Sport), but they are built to a different spec,” said Mr Jastrow.

The suspension tune on the 250 Sport and the 45 is softer than their equivalents on the Coupe, something Mr Jastrow put down to different market requirements.

“Some would say that Coupe customers prefer a more sporty feel, and perhaps they will take their cars to the track on occasion,” he explained. “For the Shooting Brake customer, they might want something that is a little more comfortable for every day.”

Spring and damper rates between the two differ less than ten per cent, he added.

The Shooting Brake bodystyle adds 30kg to the total weight of the vehicle, and all of it is over the rear half of the car. Mr Jastrow said that this actually helped the chassis engineers.

“Now, the weight distribution is better. It’s 58.5/41.5 per cent front/rear on the Shooting Brake, as compared to 60/40 on the Coupe,” he said.

When it came to the 45 AMG, a couple of changes were also made to suit the new body-style. The exhaust system, for example, was re-designed to compensate for the changes to the chassis’ rear floor, while a 30mm-high ‘gurney flap’, or trailing edge lip, has been added to the top-mounted rear wing.

“It helps to keep a good vehicle behaviour at high speeds,” said Mr Jastrow.

The AMG 45’s engine computer unit (ECU) was also re-calibrated. “The further you turn the stability control off, the more torque is directed to the rear wheels,” explained Mr Jastrow.

“Mercedes AMG will gain new customers with this Shooting Brake,” he said.

“Previously the entry level for an estate has been C-Class, but this is a more interesting price point for new AMG customers.”

The 250 Sport 4Matic goes on sale in Australia from July at $66,400 plus on-road costs, a $1500 uptick from the equivalent coupe. The 45, meanwhile, will retail for $89,900 before on-road costs.

The Shooting Brake is the fourth compact car that AMG have tweaked for its parent company, following in the wheeltracks of the A45 AMG hatch, the CLA45 AMG Coupe and the soft-roading GLA45 AMG.

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