Compared with, say, a Volvo V40 hatchback, the CLA Shooting Brake provides an additional 250mm of loading length behind the seatbacks. The car’s tapered hatchback and consequently narrow loading lip could make accommodating bulky items tricky, but there’s good boot width inside it, while 60/40 folding rear seatbacks split conveniently in order to make optimal through-loading space in a right-hand drive car (which you don’t get, incidentally, in an Audi A3 Sportback).
The rest of the CLA Shooting Brake’s cabin is carried over mostly unchanged from the saloon. You get slightly narrow but comfortable sports seats as standard and some appealing design touches such as red-accented instrument needles, wave-look silver fascia trim and feature air vents. The car’s driving position is good, save for a minor pedal offset, and its material quality levels are high.
It’s not often we get a chance to test a Mercedes that isn’t fitted with its full-house Comand multimedia navigation system, but the CLA Shooting Brake afforded one.
In entry-level Sport trim it gets Merc’s six-speaker Audio 20 radio/CD set-up, which sounds powerful and clear enough for most purposes. The Bluetooth phone connection is easy to establish but only produces averagely good call audio quality.
Our test car had Mercedes’ Garmin Map Pilot navigation system fitted — a reasonably priced solution (£495) with decent but not outstanding graphics, if a little slow to render.
The usability of the system is a tad confusing; the rotary controller is mainly only useful for the navigation menus and won’t allow you to navigate away to the radio and phone screens.
Upgrading to the Comand Online system is pricey at £1870, but it gets you an 8.0in control display, live traffic information and access to internet radio and social media channels via bundled apps. DAB digital radio is another £420.
There are three trim levels to choose from - Sport, AMG Line and, confusingly, 250 AMG. That comprehensive roll-call of kit extends to safety equipment, which means you shouldn't necessarily need to add a load of optional extras when speccing your CLA.
The entry-level Sport trim comes equipped with 18in alloy wheels, comfort suspension, auto wipers, parking sensors and cruise control, while inside includes an infotainment system complete with a 7.0in screen, Bluetooth, USB port and smartphone integration, sports seats covered in Artico leather upholstery and dual-zone climate console. AMG Line models get 18in alloys, LED headlights, lowered suspension, and part leather/part-microfibre upholstery, while the 250 AMG models receive speed-sensitive steering, sports suspension, a modified stability system, Garmin sat nav and heated front seats.
Those lucky enough to opt for the CLA 45 will find that the AMG comes with an aggressive bodykit, interior styling and decals, a sports exhaust, a seven-speed auto sports transmission complete with paddle shifters, and AMG performance seats.