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Coldly considering the Shooting Brake from its spec sheet is not the most helpful way to understand what it is. Like the CLA saloon that spawned it, the car doesn’t quite measure up in terms of segment positioning, by which we mean it’s too big and too expensive for one class and possibly a little too mediocre underneath for another. Better, then, to forget how you might characterise the model and simply decide whether you like its looks.

And that is what Mercedes intends you to do. A C-Class estate, after all, is slightly bigger, more sophisticated and only modestly more expensive, but it has a more conventional shape.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
It’s heartening to find a more balanced dynamic compromise on the CLA’s baseline comfort settings

Mercedes wants the CLA to make less sense and for you to simply want one. That decision made – typically on the basis of the plunging D-pillars used to great acclaim on the CLS – Mercedes will furnish you with the facts to back it up.

Several of these are no-brainers. A wagon’s profile means that the Shooting Brake’s back-row occupants should get 40mm more head room compared with the CLA saloon, while rear access is a little easier because the doors are slightly bigger.

Load space swells too, with 495 litres (a quoted capacity five litres superior to that of the C-Class) now on offer with the rear seats up and 1354 litres in total with them down.

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Underneath it all, the front-drive architecture is carried over from the saloon, as is the MacPherson strut front suspension and the multi-link rear. The suspension is available in three different tunes: comfort, lowered comfort and the lowered sport springs of Engineered by AMG trim.

Opting for anything other than straight comfort means a 15mm drop at the front axle and 10mm at the rear – a fate our test car was mercifully spared. No matter which set-up you choose, every CLA comes with Mercedes’ Sports Direct Steer variable-ratio electric power steering.

Like the saloon, the Shooting Brake comes with either a 1.6 or 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine or the 2.1-litre diesel unit, subdivided into 134bhp or 174bhp for the 200 d and 220 d respectively. The latter comes only with the 7G-DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox (an option on the otherwise six-speed manual 200 d). The 220 d is also the only diesel offered with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system, which sends torque to the back axle via a rear mounted multi-plate clutch when it deems necessary.

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