Review: Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (2015 – 2018)

Rating:

Handsome looking alternative to the standard small estate. Good interior quality. CLA 200 CDI is economical. Boot is surprisingly useful.

Diesels and 7G DCT automatic don't make for the best combination. Top models are expensive new. Cramped in the back seats.

Recently Added To This Review

19 May 2018

Report of leather side bolster of driver's seat of 2016 Mercedes CLA 220D Shooting Brake splitting at 18,000 miles. Read more

23 July 2017

MB issued a voluntary recall to apply software upgrades to diesel engines in a bid to cut nitrogen oxide emissions on three million vehicles. All Euro 5 and Euro 6 standard diesel engines registered... Read more

16 March 2016 Revised CLA unveiled

The facelift involves new bumpers, a diamond radiator grille in black as standard and new light-alloy wheels. The interior also benefits from numerous enhancements, among them new seat covers and trim... Read more

Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (2015 – 2018): At A Glance

Mercedes-Benz describes the CLA Shooting Brake as an exciting, practical and alternative family car. Alternative being the right word. Here is a small coupe-like estate that's come from the CLA which itself is based on the latest A-Class. So is this strange blend a successful one?

Well in terms of looks, the CLA Shooting Brake stands out. Like the larger CLS Shooting Brake, it's an elegant and distinctive estate that's the antithesis to the standard boxy estate car. It's a refreshing change. But is this a case of style over substance.

Well not necessarily. Yes the boot isn't as practical as something like a Volkswagen Golf Estate but it's still pretty handy and will easily accommodate a pushchair and shopping. It's not good for boxy items but the boot is long and wide enough for everyday needs. Plus there's a large under-the-floor storage area.

Being based on the A-Class, don't expect acres of rear legroom, but there's reasonable space. That said, put in a standard rear-facing baby car seat and you'll need to slide the front seats pretty much all the way forward. The swooping roofline at the back doesn't make it particularly easy to get your little one in or out either.

There are no question marks over interior quality though. The CLA Shooting Brake feels like a premium product with a high level to the fit and finish. It's perhaps not quite as sophisticated a design as the Audi A3 - things like the infotainment panel and air conditioning controls are somewhat pedestrian - but everything is intuitive and easy to use.

Unlike larger Mercedes-Benz models, the CLA Shooting Brake is front-wheel drive; however, it's well set-up to handle neatly with little body roll and responsive steering. As small estates go, few are as good or as enjoyable to drive as the CLA Shooting Brake. 

There are two petrol engines - the CLA 180 and the CLA 250 4Matic plus two diesel choices, the CLA 200 CDI and CLA 220 CDI. The topmost model in the range is the CLA 45 AMG 4matic. The diesels are the most popular with both versions powered by the same 2.1-litre diesel engine albeit with different power outputs. However, we're still not convinced by the combination of the CDI engines and the 7G DCT automatic gearbox. 

With pricing for the CLA Shooting Brake range kicking off at £25,755 for the CLA 180 and stretching to £43,120 for the sporty CLA 45 AMG, this is not a cheap small estate. If you want outright space then look elsewhere, but if you want plenty of style and a dash of practicality - the CLA Shooting Brake is the only small premium estate around.

What does a Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (2015 – 2018) cost?

List Price from £27,410
Buy new from £24,054
Contract hire from £262.31 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (2015 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4630–4691 mm
Width 2032 mm
Height 1417–1439 mm
Wheelbase 2699 mm

Full specifications

Compared to the four-door CLA, the Shooting Brake version has slightly more headroom, although it's still far from roomy for taller passengers in the back. Plus it's pretty cramped back there unless you have two particularly short people sat in the front. 

You can fit a rear facing child seat in the back but if it's reclining model, you'll need to slide the passenger seat nearly all the way forward to fit it in. And the sloping roofline means it's not easy to get your little one in or out. 

There's better news with the boot though. While this is labelled a 'lifestyle' estate, whatever that exactly means, it is surprisingly practical given its compact size. So it's never going to compete with a Honda Civic Tourer, but the boot is deep and wide, so you can easily get a proper pushchair (a Bugaboo, iCandy or Uppababy for example). Plus there's room for a bit of shopping. It's certainly viable as an everyday family car.

You won't be able to get anything boxy in the boot due to the sloping tailgate, but there is a very handy - and large - underfloor storage area which is ideal for keeping stuff out the way and out of sight. Standard boot space is a healthy 495 litres and this can be increased to 595 litres if you opt for the £545 Load Compartment Package. This does however lock the rear seat backs in a more forward position, ruining the comfort for anyone unfortunate enough to be sat in the rear.

Four different trims are available - Sport, AMG Sport, OrangeArt and Engineered by AMG (with the flagship CLA 45 AMG considered more of a standalone model). Each are well equipped and come with different styling. Worth mentioning is the extroverts-only OrangeArt trim, which has bold orange accents on the front and rear bumpers, wheels and interior for those who really want to stand out from the crowd.

Standard equipment from launch:

Sport comes as standard with 18-inch twin-spoke alloy wheels, Active Parking Assist with Parktronic, a diamond grille with pins in high-gloss black, ambient lighting and cruise control with variable speed limiter

AMG Sport has lowered comfort suspension – which lowers the front axle by 20 mm - xenon headlamps, AMG body styling on front apron, rear apron and side skirts, privacy glass and Artico leather seats with red contrast stitching.

OrangeArt gets 18-inch AMG multi-spoke wheels in black with orange rim, orange trim element on front and rear aprons, orange edging on seatbelts and floor mats, orange contrast stitching on leather sports seats.

Engineered by AMG includes all round AMG body styling, 18-inch AMG five-spoke alloys, lowered ‘Engineered by AMG’ sports suspension with AMG speed-sensitive sports steering, red calipers with ‘Mercedes-Benz’ lettering, red designo seat belts and ARTICO leather interior with red contrast stitching

Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (2015 – 2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (2015 – 2018) like to drive?

Like the CLA saloon, the Shooting Brake comes with the choice of three petrol engines, a 122PS 1.6-litre turbo petrol in the CLA 180 and two versions of a 2.0-litre turbo petrol with either 211PS in the CLA 250 or an incredible 360PS reserved for the CLA 45 AMG.

But it's the diesels that are more popular. The CLA is powered by the familiar 2.1-litre engine that's used in everything from big vans to the GLE. Here it develops 136PS in the CLA 200 CDI and 177PS in the CLA 220 CDI. 

The more powerful CLA 220 CDI diesel - only available with the 7G DCT automatic -  certainly delivers on paper. It will sprint to 62mph in 8.3 seconds, while averaging an official 67.3mpg and emitting just 108g/km of CO2.

Unfortunately, those numbers fail to tell the whole story. The diesel might be willing in a straight line, producing its maximum 350Nm of torque from just 1400rpm, but it's also pretty noisy and not especially refined. It's better once warmed up - and good sound proofing in the cabin helps mitigate that noise somewhat - but you can't escape the fact that it feels like an ageing engine.

Also disappointing is the seven-speed 7G DCT dual-clutch automatic. Accelerate away from a standstill and it's great, with flawless and fast upshifts, but in everyday driving it is slow to react to downshifts and often jerky when coming to a halt.

That unresponsiveness is really noticeable when slowing down for roundabouts and then wanting quick acceleration. Too often the gearbox is too slow to get you going again. There is a manual setting where you can use the steering wheel paddles plus a sport mode, but the latter is simply too hyperactive. It's a problem that we've found with this combination of 220 CDI engine and 7G DCT automatic across the Mercedes-Benz range.

There's better news when it comes to handling. The CLA may not be a traditional Mercedes-Benz in the sense that it's front-wheel drive, but it still handles very well. The majority of drivers won't notice any difference as the CLA Shooting Brake puts its power down cleanly with good traction, even in the wet.

It's good in corners too, thanks to precise and responsive steering that occasionally lacks feel but is nicely weighted to give the CLA Shooting Brake a true sporty feel. Body roll is well controlled and the ride quality is impressive too. It's on the firm side - part of the more 'youthful' CLA image - but it doesn't crash over bumps and deals well with all but the poorest of road surfaces, even when fitted with 18-inch wheels.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
CL A220 d Automatic 67 mpg 7.8 s 108 g/km
CLA 180 41–49 mpg 9.1–9.4 s 134–158 g/km
CLA 180 Automatic 45–51 mpg 8.8–9.3 s 128–144 g/km
CLA 200 43 mpg 8.5 s 150 g/km
CLA 200 Automatic 43–44 mpg 8.2–8.5 s 146–150 g/km
CLA 200 d 66 mpg 9.7 s 111–112 g/km
CLA 200 d Automatic 69 mpg 9.2 s 106–107 g/km
CLA 220 4Matic Automatic 38 mpg 7.2 s 168 g/km
CLA 220 d Automatic 67 mpg 7.8–8.3 s 108–109 g/km
CLA 220 d Automatic 4Matic 59 mpg 7.8 s 126 g/km
CLA 220d 4Matic Automatic 50 mpg 7.8 s 148 g/km
CLA 220d Automatic 51 mpg 7.8 s 144 g/km
CLA 250 Automatic 4Matic 41–43 mpg 6.7–6.8 s 152–160 g/km
CLA 45 AMG 33–41 mpg 4.3–4.7 s 162–195 g/km

Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake (2015 – 2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

74%

Real MPG

25–55 mpg

MPGs submitted

29

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.