Review: Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake (2012 – 2018)


Stunning estate version of the CLS. Has rakish coupe-like looks combined with 'shooting brake' practicality.

Top models are expensive. Exterior styling will not be to everyone's taste. Isn't the most engaging car to drive. Load space is awkward reach due to low hatch height.

Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake (2012 – 2018): At A Glance

According to Mercedes-Benz, every new car represents a tussle between engineers and designers, which probably explains a lot about the creation of the CLS Shooting Brake. A world away from the traditional boxy estate, the Shooting Brake is a large and practical car that disguises its stretched dimensions with rakish coupe-like looks.

Larger than the BMW 5 Series Touring and Audi A6 Avant, the CLS Shooting Brake has 590 litres of carrying capacity and enough room for three in the back. The rear seats can also be folded down from the boot to boost the load bay to 1550 litres, which is a huge amount of space for an estate. However, the CSL Shooting Brake isn’t without its faults, access to the rear is awkward due to the low hatch height and the low roof makes the space feel rather shallow.

On the plus side, the cabin of the CLS Shooting Brake is almost identical to the saloon, which means it is comfortable and spacious, with an abundance of high quality trims and materials. In fact, the swoopy Mercedes-Benz will provide executive comfort up for five passengers, with low road noise and excellent all-round refinement. 

The driving position is typical Mercedes-Benz too, with a good view of the road and an intelligent dashboard layout. All of the controls are where you’d expect to find them, thanks to a large centre console and simple dashboard layout and standard kit is high, with sat nav, automatic climate control and multi-function steering wheel included in the list price.  

The engine line up is limited to three options - the CLS 250 CDI, CLS 350 CDI and the high performance CLS 63 AMG. On paper the CLS 250 CDI is the best of the bunch, with claimed fuel economy of 53.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 140g/km. With 500Nm of torque, it is a strong performer too and 0-62mph takes 7.8 seconds.

Admittedly, some might take issues with the name - Shooting Brakes were traditionally two-door sports cars – but we think the CLS Shooting Brake is a very good car. Not only does it provide a new and refreshing approach to the standard estate model, but it also breaks new ground when it comes to refinement and comfort. On the down side, it is very expensive, but still a credible rival for the 5 Series Touring and Audi A6 Avant. 

What does a Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake (2012 – 2018) cost?

List Price from £55,440
Buy new from £45,328
Contract hire from £405.97 per month

Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake (2012 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4953–4971 mm
Width 2075 mm
Height 1416–1432 mm
Wheelbase 2874 mm

Full specifications

Contrary to its coupe-like appearance, the CLS Shooting Brake is a large and practical car. The cabin is almost identical to the saloon, which is comfortable and spacious, with an abundance of high quality trims and materials. Clearly Mercedes-Benz has given considerable attention to detail with its latest interiors and it shows, with strong fixtures throughout and perfect stitching, right down to the leather on the door trim.

Unlike the saloon, the CLS Shooting Brake will squeeze three adults in the back and both the front passenger and driver get plenty of head and legroom. Admittedly, you wouldn’t want to take five large guys on a three or four hour journey, but parents will be pleased with the extra dimensions as the rear is perfect for carrying a young family.

A solid centre console divides the front two seats and the driver gets a coupe-like position, with a dashboard that wraps around the seat. The driving position is notably lower than other estate cars - giving a sportier feel - but the there is plenty of electric adjustment and finding a comfortable driving position is easy, as is obtaining a commanding view of the road ahead. However, it must be said, the sloped roof of the car means rear visibility is limited and reversing parking is more challenging than other estate cars.

All versions of the Shooting Brake are fitted with an impressive amount of kit, with sat nav, climate control, leather upholstery, DAB radio plus front and rear parking sensors all included as standard. The driver also gets a colour HD display and all of the infotainment controls are simple to use and understand.

The boot of the CLS Shooting Brake is deceptively large, with 590 litres of carrying capacity that extends to a cavernous 1550 litres with the rear seats folded. On paper, that’s 30 litres larger than both the BMW 5 Series Touring and Audi A6 Avant, but in reality the CLS Shooting Brake’s low roof means the load space feels rather shallow. The boot is also awkward to reach, due to the low hatch height.

The CLS Shooting Brake gets some bespoke interior features, most notably the optional Cherry Tree wooden boot floor to give it a yacht-like classic appearance. There are also aluminium loading rails with rubber inserts to protect the floor and stop luggage sliding around. The rest of the interior is available in five colours, five trim designs and three qualities of leather. There are also three exclusive wood types: high-gloss brown burr walnut, high-gloss black ash and satin-finish light-brown poplar.

Standard equipment levels:

CLS has 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights, leather upholstery, rear air suspension, Parktronic with Active Park Assist, Bluetooth, satellite navigation, six-disc CD player, touchscreen media interface, DAB digital radio, cruise control, seven-speed auto transmission, rear air suspension, metallic paint.

CLS AMG Sport gets 19-inch AMG alloy wheels, AMG bodystyling. Full LED headlamps, lowered sports suspension, sports brakes, sports steering wheel, sports pedals, AMG floor mats.

Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake (2012 – 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 CLS Shooting Brake (2012 – 2018) like to drive?

The CLS Shooting Brake is offered with a strong range of engines, which include a pair of diesels and one petrol unit. The diesel range starts with the CLS 250 CDI and a well-rounded four-cylinder diesel with 204PS. On paper the 250 CDI will return 53.3mpg and emit 140g/km of CO2, which strikes a good balance between economy and performance.

For most estate drivers, the four-cylinder will be more than enough for everyday needs, with an impressive 500Nm of torque that will propel the CLS Shooting Brake from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds. 

If you want more bang from your diesel then the CLS Shooting Brake is also available with a V6. The CLS 350 CDI is incredibly strong, with 265PS and 620Nm of torque that will outrun most hot hatches and cover 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds. Mercedes-Benz claim the V6 will return 47.1mpg and emit 161g/km of CO2.

The only petrol option in the range is the V8 that powers the CLS 63 AMG. As you’d imagine, the AMG option is brutal and fast, with 557PS and 720Nm of torque. Not only will this rocket the Shooting Brake to 62mph in 4.3 seconds, but it will take it to theoretical top speed of 186mph. However, like all cars in the range, the AMG is restricted, so this top speed is toned down for UK examples to 155mph. Fuel economy for the V8 is your usual AMG thoroughfare, with a claimed 28.0mpg and 245g/km of CO2.

Regardless of which powertrain you choose, the CLS Shooting Brake always feels relaxing and controlled. Both of the diesel engines are smooth and quiet, while the V8 rumbles along with racing purpose. Sometimes estates can feel a little slow witted or heavy, but Mercedes-Benz must be applauded for the work they’ve done with the Shooting Brake. It’s a well-balanced car with excellent handling. In fact, for daily driving, it is among the best estates. 

Obviously, diesels are the most sensible engines and we’d recommend the CLS 250 CDI as the best-rounded unit. However, we'd urge anyone to test the V6 diesel. For sure, it's more expensive, but it is an outstanding engine and returns superb performance. All models are linked to a seven-speed automatic gearbox, which is equally impressive, with intelligent changes and a smooth operation.

We'd concede that CLS Shooting Brake is not an exciting car to drive - bar the AMG of course – but it is a very calm and enjoyable estate. For sure, the steering is a little vague mid-corner and the power assistance is on the strong side, but we don’t think this matters too much for this type of car. For us, an estate should be effortless and relaxing, which is where the CLS Shooting Brake excels. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
CLS220 d 57 mpg 8.8 s 133 g/km
CLS250 CDI 53 mpg 7.8 s 140–143 g/km
CLS350 CDI 47 mpg 6.6 s 161–162 g/km
CLS350 d 50 mpg 6.6 s 150 g/km
CLS63 AMG 28 mpg 4.3 s 235 g/km
CLS63 AMG S 28 mpg 4.2 s 235 g/km

Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake (2012 – 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


Real MPG

20–49 mpg

MPGs submitted


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.