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£34,490 when new
Peak oil? Forget that, we’ve reached peak niche. No surprises it’s Mercedes-Benz that’s achieved it, the people in Stuttgart singularly determined to create a car for everyone. Really, every single one of you. So now we’ve got the CLA Shooting Brake, which (follow closely) is an estate version of a coupe that’s based on a hatchback. That’s a four-door coupe too, not a good ol’ two-door. Confused? You may well be, or instead you could just appreciate that adding ‘Shooting Brake’ to the back of the CLA (nothing as unglamorous as estate or touring here) anchors it with the upmarket CLS and does wonders for the somewhat top-heavy, pinched bum looks. Not that it adds much in the way of genuine practicality. Lifestylists with active outdoorsy gear will struggle, the Shooting Brake adding just 25 litres to the regular CLA’s 470-litre load space. Pop the seats down, and that increases to 1,354 litres, but there’s still the issue of negotiating the high, narrow opening which the tail lights cut into. It’s a bit better for those sitting in the back, though, the Shooting Brake’s roofline adding four centimetres of headroom – enough to turn the rear seats from tortuous to usable. As long as you’re not too long of limb – legroom is still too cramped for comfort. The engine range inevitably follows that of the CLA coupe. There’s a pair of grumbly diesels (refinement has never been a strong point of this engine) using Merc’s 2.1-litre turbodiesel unit and three petrol choices badged CLA 180, 250 and 45 AMG, with turbocharged 1.6- and 2.0-litre units. Power for the diesels is 134 or 167bhp (200 and 220 CDI respectively), and the latter is, well, a bit too much. I know, hard to believe, but 258lb ft of torque demands more from the front tyres than they can happily cope with, and UK buyers don’t get to spec Merc’s 4Matic four-wheel-drive system in the diesel variants.
The drivetrain is not helped by the 7spd twin-clutch automatic, which is a touch slovenly in Eco mode, overly eager in Sport and in Manual sometimes requires double taps on the paddles before it gives you the gear you’re after. Not great, then, especially if you’re seduced by the diesel’s promise of 67.3mpg on the combined cycle.