Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake Interior Layout & Technology | Top Gear
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Car Review

Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake review

£32,055 - £58,135
Published: 31 Jan 2020


What is it like on the inside?

Normally we’d kick off with rants and/or raves about the dashboard here, but since you might well be familiar with all that from the A-Class and saloon-shaped CLA, we’ll save it for a second. This is the Shooting Brake after all, and you come to Top Gear for top-notch up-to-the-minute boot space analysis.

The CLA Shooting Brake has a bigger boot than before – it’s up 10 litres to 505 litres. Not much, but it’ll feel like a more useful space, because the tailgate opening now cuts through the light clusters, instead of meandering around them. Mind you, given Mercedes increased the wheelbase by 30mm, we might have expected a tad more load space. Then of course, the C-Class Estate might have felt the heat. Such are the pitfalls of mega-niche-ification.

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Moving forward, the CLA Shooting Brake makes a good case for itself as a practical ‘coupe’. There’s more headroom than you’d expect, and even with the chunky, rather ugly one-piece seats eating up room like a sofa in a phonebox, there’s easily enough space for an adult in the back seats behind an adult in the front seats. So, if you’ve got one on the company car list, you won’t lose favour with the boss if they’re relegated to the back seat for a lunch run.

Now, the main event: the dashboard. All as per the CLA ‘saloon’; good, bad and ugly. There’s a whiff that Mercedes designed this interior more to impress your mates when you give ‘em a lift – or woo you on a quick showroom tour – than to build a cabin as good as an Audi A3’s. Oh, the 10.3-inch screens do indeed look terrific. You can touch them, or swipe at the touchpad, and there’s “Hey Mercedes" voice assistant built-in. All of this is very swish and clever on first impression, but trust us, after a weeks-worth of finger prints accumulate on the screen, you’ll yearn for a clickwheel. 

And we guarantee you’ll forget “Hey Mercedes” is listening until it interrupts a conversation because it’s misheard you. By the time you’ve said “Hey Mercedes, I’m cold, please set temperature to twenty-one degrees” clearly enough to be understood, you really might as well have used the button to rouse the heater. Only, this will have reminded you that the switchgear is worryingly cheap. Again, it looks great, but familiarity with it will show where Mercedes has cut corners on quality. This is the age of the smartphone, however, and the internet of things.

The CLA’s screens are class-leading, and for its intended audience of younger, tech-savvy millennials, that makes it a sure-fire sales hit, regardless of what kind of old Lego the buttons have been made out of. 

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