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Driven: CLA Shooting Brake adds to Benz range

Off the wagon: Wagons typically only attract 10 per cent of Benz buyers to any range that offers the body style, and the car-maker is expecting a similar split for the CLA Shooting Brake.

Mercedes lobs latest compact model, with CLA Shooting Brake on sale now

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Mercedes-Benz logo12 Jun 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

MERCEDES-BENZ says Australian buyers' indifference to wagon body styles will mean its CLA Shooting Brake will only produce modest sales gains, with the four-door coupe variant set to remain the top pick for local consumers.

The wagon version of the swoopy Benz sedan arrives in showrooms this month carrying a $1500 premium over its four-door 'coupe' equivalent, with prices starting from $52,400, plus on-road costs, topping out at $89,900 for the fire-breathing CLA45 AMG.

Speaking with media at the CLA Shooting Brake launch in Melbourne this week, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific CEO Horst von Sanden would not be drawn on expected volumes for its latest model.

“We believe it will be highly attractive,” he said. “But then again we have to see what the customer reaction is. We certainly plan half-decent volume but I couldn’t give you a firm number at this stage. We kept it somewhat flexible.” When pressed about whether the Shooting Brake could make up about seven per cent or more of all CLA sales, Mr von Sanden said he was hopeful it would appeal to buyers, but acknowledged the styling may not be to everyone's taste.

“I think it will be more significant (than seven per cent), but again this is where we test the waters. We could be surprised that it is far higher than that, it could be a little bit higher. I would be disappointed if it was only that.

“It is a new segment. It is a different design philosophy and what I believe looks great and makes a lot of sense, maybe not everyone follows my opinion or our opinion, but we believe it will be successful.” According to Mercedes, the Shooting Brake version of the CLA's larger sibling, the CLS, has attracted 10 per cent of buyers since it arrived in late-2012, while 10 per cent of the C-Class mid-sizer's sales go to the Estate.

Mr von Sanden said the lack of take-up from Australian buyers of wagons is surprising to him after coming from Germany where they regularly make up 70 per cent of a model's overall sales.

“I expected the take-up of CLS Shooting Brake would be far greater than what it was. The number of customers I personally know that bought the Shooting Brake, they love it and they would have one again. They say 'this is the best looking car we have ever seen and we are happy to have one'.

“It's got a little bit to do with courage. Don’t get me wrong, but Australia is still somewhat conservative in acceptance of design. For a lot of people that considered that car, it was just this tick too much.” The CLA Shooting Brake is the latest model built off Benz's modular MFA platform, which has so far produced the B-Class and A-Class hatches, GLA crossover, and the CLA four-door coupe.

At 4630mm long, 1777mm wide and 1435mm high, the Shooting Brake is 150mm shorter and 1mm lower than the coupe, but it offers 40mm more headroom in the back seat.

There is 495 litres of cargo space that can be boosted to 595 litres via Mercedes' 'cargo' position, which pushes the rear-seat backrests into a vertical position. Folding the backrest down completely increases the cargo area to 1354 litres.

Kicking off the range at $52,400 is the CLA200, powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 115kW at 5300rpm and 250Nm at 1250-4000rpm for a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 8.7 seconds.

Official fuel consumption on the combined cycle is rated at 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres, while carbon dioxide emissions are 134g/km.

The sole diesel variant, the $52,900 CLA200 CDI, uses a 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbocharged oiler, pumping out 100kW at 3400-4400rpm and 300Nm at 1400-3000rpm, ensuring a 0-100km/h time of 9.9 seconds. This is – unsurprisingly – the most frugal powertrain, offering an official fuel figure of 4.3L/100km and CO2 emissions of 114g/km.

Further up the range, the $66,400 CLA250 Sport 4Matic all-wheel drive carries a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit delivering 155kW at 5500rpm and 350Nm at 1200-4000rpm, pushing the wagon to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds.

Fuel use is 6.9L/100km and CO2 emissions sit at 160g/km.

Topping the range is the flagship CLA45 AMG 4Matic Shooting Brake priced from $89,900, which shares the same powertrain as its A45 and GLA45 siblings.

That means a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine offering up 265kW at 6000rpm and 450Nm at 2250-5000rpm, allowing it to race to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds – just 0.1 second off the A45 hatch and CLA45 coupe, but 0.1s quicker than the GLA45 – with a fuel figure of 7.2L/100km and CO2 of 168g/km.

While all of the non-AMG variants have 18-inch alloy wheels, the CLA45 is offered with 19-inch hoops and has an electronically limited top speed of 270km/h, which is 60km/h faster than the other three versions.

All powertrains are Euro-6 compliant and come standard with idle-stop, and each CLA is matched with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The suspension set up across the range is a MacPherson strut up front and a four-link rear axle, and each variant features electromechanical rack-and-pinion power steering.

Standard equipment across the range includes a power-operated tailgate, keyless start, Garmin 'Map Pilot' satellite navigation, automatically dimming rear-view mirror, ambient lighting, 8.0-inch TFT colour display, bi-Xenon headlights, cruise control, electrically folding and heated external mirrors, rear fog-lights, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, tinted glass, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers and paddle shifters.

The CLA250 Sport 4Matic adds red seatbelts, brushed stainless steel pedals, black red cut leather sports seats, flat-bottomed Nappa leather steering wheel, a Sport configuration for the 7G dual-clutch transmission, lowered AMG sports suspension, 'intelligent' light system, red brake callipers, AMG body-styling on front and rear aprons and side sill panels, and a panoramic sunroof.

In flagship CLA45 AMG guise, buyers also get DAB+ digital radio, a Harman Kardon 12-speaker surround sound system, a top-spec navigation system, metallic paint and a series of AMG features including an AMG drive unit, instrument cluster with race timer, performance seats in black red cut leather upholstery, a performance steering wheel in black Nappa leather and Dinamica, as well as AMG floor mats.

Further enhancing performance over its more sedate siblings, the CLA45 offers an AMG high-performance braking system, performance exhaust, an AMG Speedshift DCT seven-speed transmission and sports suspension, as well as the AMG twin-bade grille and an AMG night package which includes a blackened beltline, tailpipes, front splitter and exterior mirrors.

There are, of course, 10 options packages to choose from, depending on the variant, ranging in price from $490 to $4990.

In terms of safety, from CLA200 up it carries nine airbags, blind-spot assistant, brake assist, a brake-pad wear indicator, an fatigue monitoring system, 'Adaptive Brake' with hold function and hill-hold assist, Benz's 'Collision Prevention Assist Plus with semi-autonomous braking function, and the 'Pre-Safe' accident anticipatory system.

The CLA250 Sport 4Matic adds an anti-theft system, modified electronic stability program (ESP) and a tyre pressure monitoring system, while the CLA45 AMG gains Distronic Plus, lane-keeping assistant and a three-stage ESP.

2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake pricing*
200 (a) $52,400
200 CDI (a) $52,900
250 Sport 4Matic (a) $66,400
45 AMG (a) $89,900
*Excludes on-road costs.

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