Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake: the CAR lowdown

Published: 06 June 2019

► New Shooting Brake revealed at Geneva
► Follows the CLA shown at CES
► Is this just a very long A-class now?  

Bigger, more spacious and easier on the eye, Mercedes second-generation CLA Shooting Brake is coming to the UK in autumn 2019, and there’s an AMG CLA35 version coming, too.

That’s just four years after the Mk1 was launched, which is about as fleeting as a mayfly in terms of car life cycles, and may leave some current owners green-eyed at the rapid and extensive improvements brought by the new model. 

Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake at the 2019 Geneva motor show - front view

The concept remains the same: a sleek wagon sibling of the A-class hatchback and CLA coupe, all spun-off the same front-wheel drive MFA2 platform (which is also available with four-wheel drive). It’s a mere 48mm longer than the CLA Mk1, but much of that stretch is between the wheels plus it’s wider too. That means more shoulder and elbow space, and a wee bit more legroom and headroom in the rear.

The biggest difference is at the back end: the Mk1’s boot opening circumnavigated the wavy horizontal lamps, leading to a small aperture. This time, the cutline splits the lights, ensuring the load width is a whopping 236mm greater. The boot still has a towering lip though, and boot capacity only grows by 10 litres to 505 in total.   

Enough of the rational stuff, give me the emotion of design

Exterior designer Achim-Dietrich Badstüber reckons good design has a ‘less is more’ approach. ‘If you look at your design and like it, take a line off. If you still like it, then take another line off.’ So the new Shooting Brake has lost that exaggerated descending shoulder line along the side and toned down the overbearing crease atop the rear wheel.

It makes for a classier car – but doesn’t reflect so well on the last-generation A-class and CLA Shooting Brake, which had more lines than Marcel Proust’s leviathan novel Remembrance of Things Past.

The new shark nose – shared with the CLA coupe – has plenty of presence, with the top of the snout proudly jutting forward and power domes on the bonnet. In the headlamps, an additional underscore freshens up the hockey stick-shaped Benz graphic, and an eye-catching floating lower bumper contains ‘air curtain’ vents to calm wheel turbulence. It’s aerodynamic for an estate, with a 0.26 drag coefficient.

 At the rear, the passenger cell tapers inwards to accentuate the rear haunches and help air flow, and the back screen is sharply raked. Add in the narrow, crescent-shaped glasshouse and the cleaned-up side surfaces, and the Shooting Brake looks lower than its 1442mm height – despite it standing a couple of millimetres taller than the current A-class hatchback. The doors – shared with the CLA four-door – are frameless, as you’d expect from a Mercedes-Benz coupe. 

Inside the Shooting Brake shares the sensational dashboard blooded with the A-class, including the twin 10-inch bonded screens and turbine vents, desirable configurable lighting, and the voice-controlled MBUX operating system. One new CLA development is MBUX’s ability to determine whether it’s the driver or the passenger saying the commands, so it alters the appropriate seat or climate control area. This upgrade will be rolled out to the A-class too.

New CLA Shooting Brake engine line-up

The range will be very close to the CLA coupe’s. Expect two upper level trims, Sport or AMG Line, with prices starting around £30,000. There will be three petrol variants at launch: the base 163hp 1.3-litre petrol (CLA 200), and the 2.0-litre with either 190hp (CLA 220) or 224hp (CLA 250). The CLA 200 has a six-speed manual transmision as standard; the higher output four-cylinder petrols are mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Top petrol power comes in the shape of the Mercedes-AMG CLA35 with a 302bhp and 295lb ft four-pot with the seven-speed auto and all-wheel drive.

Diesel fans can pick a 2.0-litre unit with either 150 (CLA 200d) or 190hp (CLA 220d), both coupled with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The 220d has historically been the best-seller, in a variant that accounts for about 20 per cent of total CLA registrations in the UK.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine