Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

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Having looked around the new CLS Shooting Brake at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, I can honestly say that it’s beauty was only exceeded by Bentley’s EXP 9 F SUV.

Oh hang on, I just realised I’m using a inverse scale setting on my beer goggles. According to Mercedes though, it is “..independence at its most beautiful.”

The CLS Shooting Brake borrows the long bonnet, narrow-look windows with frameless side windows from it’s 4-door coupe sibling, but adds a dynamic roof sloping back towards the rear.

But is this (another) niche too far? Mercedes clearly don’t think so. They successfully created the four-door coupé segment in 2004, but is there really demand for what they call a ‘sports car with five seats and a large tailgate’?

Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche responds to the sceptics by saying: “Maybe these were the same people who wondered two years ago if the world really needed iPads. Or those non-believers 125 years ago who asked does the world really need a horseless carriage.”

Zetsche believes the new Shooting Brake “captures the very essence of premium cars, because it’s not about making any false compromises”.

The CLS Shooting Brake is in most respects the same as the coupe – 4956 mm in length, 1881 mm wide and 1413 mm in height. A load capacity of between 590 and 1550 litres makes the Shooting Brake an eminently more practical proposition than its sibling, a sense of luxury normally found in the S-Class.

Standard air suspension at the rear helps maintain optimum road holding even when fully loaded, rear seat backrests can be folded down and an optional trailer coupling gives the Shooting Brake a multi-purpose appeal.

At launch, the CLS Shooting Brake comes with a choice of either 201bhp 2143 cc 4-cylinder diesel engine (CLS250 CDI) or 261bhp 2987 cc 6-cylinder diesel engine (CLS350 CDI). The CLS250 CDI will accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds, reach 146 mph and average 53.3 mpg (139 g/km CO2) and the CLS350 CDI manages 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds, 155 mph and averages 47.0 mpg (159 g/km CO2).

The CLS remains the market leader in its segment, and in the year-to-date retail sales have climbed more than 50 per cent over the first five months of last year. Mercedes believe they’re on to another winner and who are we to cast aspersions on a company clearly on a roll.

Pricing and final specification are still to be confirmed, but the CLS Shooting Brake goes on sale in the UK in November 2012.