I’d like to say that the CLS Shooting Brake and Jaguar Sportbrake appear on these pages by design to indulge in some kind of battle of the ’Brakes, but it wouldn’t be true. It just happened that way.
Mercedes’ take on the Brake is bold, and proves the CLS concept to be more flexible than even Mercedes first thought. You will recall that the CLS was one of those rare cars with a genuine claim to starting an entirely new class and may shortly find itself in the unique position of having done so twice. The original was the first modern four-door coupé, while the Shooting Brake can credibly be thought of as the first coupé estate.
One way to look at it is as a profligate waste of space. You can buy an E-class estate sharing the same platform and the same 2.2-litre diesel engine and with essentially identical performance and economy for over £15,000 less. And while the Shooting Brake has a boot barely any bigger than that of the diminutive C-class estate, the E-class’s carrying capacity is unrivalled by any other estate on sale. For a car that’s almost as long as an S-class, it could be seen as a nonsense.
But that is an entirely one-dimensional view of a car with more visual charm in its rear light clusters than you’ll find in an entire E-class estate. It may not be a colossal load carrier but as a means of cutting a dash while still making practical sense it would lead its class by a mile, had it a class in the first place.
Indeed I found the CLS Shooting Brake a completely compelling proposition, the kind of car you could keep for 10 years and never find a job to which it was not inherently suited. The only question I fear it leaves unanswered is why on earth anyone would now buy the coupé upon which it is based. For an extra £1400 the Brake turns the CLS from a charming niche product into an even more attractive and incomparably more useful all-purpose weapon.
Engine: 2.2 litres, four cylinders, turbocharged
Top Speed: 146mph
Power: 201bhp at 3800rpm
Fuel/co2: 53.32mpg, 139g/km