New models - Mercedes-Benz - CLA - Shooting Brake range
First drive: Benz shoots and scores with CLA wagon
Mercedes-Benz’s CLA Shooting Brake range offers a new spin on the small hatch
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13 Mar 2015
By TIM ROBSON in FRANKFURT
MERCEDES-BENZ'S CLA Shooting Brake will mirror the spec of the four-door Coupe range when it arrives in Australia in July, completing a five-car compact line-up that also includes the GLA crossover, the A- and B-Class.
The Shooting Brake is priced $1500 above its equivalent CLA coupe/sedan brethren, with the CLA200 starting at $52,400, plus on-road costs, and the 200 CDI diesel coming in $500 dearer.
The more performance oriented 250 Sport will cost $66,400, while the hot-rod CLA45 AMG 4Matic tops the list at $89,900.
Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific is expecting a strong sales from the CLA Shooting Brake range, with senior manager public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy indicating to GoAuto that it could sell between 100 and 150 a month.
“We don’t believe it will necessarily take sales from the Coupe,” he said. “It’ll stand on its own.”
Mercedes-Benz head of compact car development Jochen Eck said the load-lugging version of the CLA offers practicality and safety in a stylish package.
“The new CLA Shooting Brake turns our ‘Fantastic Four’ into a quintet,” he said. “Standalone design, high functionality, plus efficient drivetrains and outstanding safety – I think this is a highly attractive package.”
Based on Benz's modular MFA platform, the Shooting Brake’s fundamental difference is the addition of a large cargo area. Despite this, the wagon is actually 150mm shorter than the Coupe at 4630mm. It’s also 1mm lower at 1435mm, and the same width (1777mm).
Internally, rear headroom has improved by 40mm across the back seats.
Cargo space behind the 60/40 split-fold seats is 495 litres, and Australian-spec cars will feature an additional catch on the rear-seat backrests that allows them to be locked vertically, increasing load area by another 100 litres at the expense of rear passenger comfort.
Dropping the rear seats completely gives the CLA Shooting Brake 1354 litres of space. Raised ribs on the cargo floor and minimal intrusion from the rear wheel-arches provide a practical load area, although the heavily raked tailgate will somewhat limit its usefulness. As a reference, it will swallow a bicycle intact. All variants will sport a powered tailgate.
Rear-seat kneeroom is pretty tight for average adults, but head room is deceptively plentiful.
All of the suspension hard points remain the same between the two cars, meaning that the wheelbase remains the same at 2699mm in fact the two machines are identical from the B-pillar forward.
The additional bodywork adds 30kg extra to each car in the range, but Mercedes-Benz claims the placement of the extra weight over the rear half of the car improves the front-to-rear weight balance as a result.
Mechanically, all four retain the same powertrain packages as their Coupe equivalents. The CLA200’s 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine is matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission driving the front wheels, and produces 115kW at 5300rpm and 250Nm of torque at 1250rpm.
At 1430kg, its claimed 0-100km/h time is 8.8 seconds, with a top speed of 225km/h. Fuel economy figures for Australia will be confirmed closer to July, but it’s rated at 6.0-litres per 100 kilometres in Europe, with a CO2 figure of 140g/km.
The CLA200 CDI runs a 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel with its seven-speed DCT, and churns out 100kW at 3200rpm and 300Nm at just 2000rpm.
Weighing 1530kg, it gets to 100km/h in 9.9 seconds and onto a top speed of 215km/h. A claimed fuel economy figure of 4.4 litres per 100km and 131g of CO2 per kilometre will be verified closer to its local launch.
Driving both the 250 Sport and 45 AMG Shooting Brakes in chilly Germany on snow tyres revealed a car that differed slightly in character from its donor. Behind the wheel, the impression of a well-built, well-specced and well-designed car remain intact the CLA has always done a good job convincing its driver that it’s a bigger car.
The 250 Sport 4Matic produces 155kW and 355Nm from its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, putting its power down through all four wheels. The 1565kg car will do 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds, top out at 240km/h and return 6.8 litres/100km while burning 156g of CO2 per kilometre.
It’s a characterful car with a rorty exhaust and a high level of trim in Coupe guise, and it loses none of that edge in the transformation to Shooting Brake.
Mercedes-AMG engineers have given the 250 Sport a few of the key suspension parts from the AMG 45 bin – including its stiffer front suspension knuckles – as well as helping to tune the ECU and supplying bespoke dampers (see separate story).
The spring rates are marginally softer in the wagon, and with 30kg of extra weight over the rear axle, it gives the 250 Sport a more relaxed, planted demeanour, especially over broken tarmac.
The same holds true for the 45 AMG. It still outputs a ridiculously high 265kW and 450Nm from its highly-strung, direct-injection turbocharged petrol four-cylinder through all four wheels, but the softer suspension tune is apparent.
Gone is the sometimes-brittle ride of the Coupe, to be replaced by a highly competent and sophisticated feeling across all surfaces. Our test cars were on winter tyres with wider, deeper tread blocks, but the quality should translate to local-spec items.
The 1615kg AMG is seriously pacey, too, with a 250km/h top speed and a 0-100km/h spring of 4.7 seconds. Its ample reserves of torque hustles it along in double-quick time, too. Its consumption levels are up as a result at 7.1 litres/100km and 165g of CO2 per kilometre.
This diminutive wagon cuts a unique figure in the Australian marketplace, with Renault’s GT220 wagon and the Skoda Octavia RS wagon offering perhaps the most direct alternatives. BMW’s 3-Series wagons are priced similarly, but it exists in the next size category up and there is no sporty version.
If the distinctive styling pleases the eye, the CLA Shooting Brake offers real-world practicality in a small car that does an amazing impression of a much larger vehicle.
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