Mercedes-Benz: 2014 CLS 250 CDI Shooting Brake

Mercedes-Benz: 2014 CLS 250 CDI Shooting Brake

What is a shooting brake you ask? Thats a very good question.

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the term shooting-brake originated in the 19th century, and was used to describe a particular style of motor-vehicle that carried shooting parties, their equipment, and their game.

Wikipedia says the term brake was coined to describe a chassis used to break in horses, and was subsequently used to describe a motor-vehicle.

Early 19th century shooting brakes were often custom built to order for their wealthy clients, normally members of the British aristocracy.

CLS250sideBrands such as Rolls-Royce and Bentley would supply a rolling chassis to a body builder, who would then create a purpose built vehicle to carry people, firearms, dogs, and other necessities for a days hunting, including a hip flask of whiskey and no doubt a thermos of tea.

Believe it or not, but there was such a thing as a 1910 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost shooting brake.

By the 1930s, the custom-built shooting brake had morphed into the estate car, more commonly known to you and I as the station wagon, a practical vehicle which was not only able to take shooting parties across M’Lords estate, it could also ferry guests and luggage to the nearest railway station.

image89886_aContemporary use of the term shooting brake has been applied to three and five door vehicles that combine the features of a station wagon and a coupe, and given that Mercedes-Benz regards the four-door version of its svelte CLS as a coupe, it was almost a given that a five-door version would be known as the CLS Shooting Brake.

The CLS Shooting Brake of 2014 is thankfully far more stylish, more luxurious, more comfortable, much safer, and far more efficient than those vehicles created 100 years ago.

It must also be pointed out that thanks to that coupe-like shape, this car is more sports-hatch than station wagon, carting large items such as pieces of furniture or white ware might prove difficult even with the folding rear seats.

We drove a 150kW 2.2-litre four-cylinder CLS 250 CDI turbo-diesel around Brisbane for a week, with a trip north to the Sunshine Coast and a trip south to the Gold Coast, and came away impressed with the cars ability to soak up the distance while sipping diesel at a miserly rate of 5.8L/100km.

According to Mercedes-Benz the CLS 250 CDI can return 5.2L/100km, and I sure this is quite achievable but our test vehicle was brand spanking new, it had a mere 100km on the odometer when we collected it from the Brisbane dealership in Ann Street, Fortitude Valley.

image89888_aOnce the cars got a few 1000km under its belt I’m quite sure it will return the figures as quoted by the factory.

Australia is the land of the speed trap and the variable dual carriage way and motorway speed limit, so the Distronic Plus cruise control setting was fully utilised at every opportunity on our trip.

In heavy traffic the system will bring the car to a full stop if required, and from rest, once you tap the accelerator pedal it will reengage and follow the vehicle in front to the maximum speed as set.

image89890_aAnother three features which are especially useful when driving in an unfamiliar city, are satellite navigation, lane departure warning, and blind spot assistance, which further enhanced our enjoyment of the CLS Shooting Brake.

The navigation system is not completely fail safe, however, and twice the human behind the steering wheel erred and moved into the wrong lane and off course, which then sparked much mirth from the person in the passenger seat as the lovely female voice implored me to make a U- turn.

At the time it was all well and good for her to suggest such a manoeuvre, but when travelling on a busy traffic laden triple image89889_acarriageway with a bloody great concrete median barrier on it, I was hardly going to attempt it.

Thankfully at the next intersection U turns were permitted (as they often are in Brisbane thankfully) and I was able to retrace our steps and carry on the correct route.

We spent a fair amount of travelling time on the various motorways and the lane departure warning, and blind spot assistance were hugely appreciated in heavy traffic.

If you get too close to the lane markings on either side, the steering wheel would vibrate while a graphic would also flash CLS250rear34up on the dashboard, and if you decided to indicate to change lanes without looking properly, immediately the blind spot system would flash and chime, a similar chime would occur should you get too close to the vehicle immediately in front of you.

The gorgeous design of the CLS 250 Shooting Brake does have one distinct disadvantage from the drivers seat, it is very hard to judge the where the extremities of the car actually are, but the rear camera, combined with front and rear parking sensors and a cautious driver will ensure that parking is never an issue.

I confess to being nervous about parking such a low slung car with such lovely low profile tyres and AMG alloy wheels, as well as a fairly low front bumper fascia too, but thanks to the camera and being careful when parallel parking, no wheels or other items were scraped during this test drive.

Our CLS Shooting Brake was fitted with the self levelling Airmatic air suspension for a truly magic carpet style of ride quality, over some pretty awful road surfaces encountered during our 450km travelled.

Both Australia and New Zealand serve up some challenging environments for the Mercedes-Benz engineers to accommodate when calibrating both the tyre and suspension set up, but the Airmatic on comfort setting was very comfortable, but the car still felt taut and agile.

Overall I was very impressed with the comfort, user-friendliness, high specification, and the striking design of the CLS Shooting Brake. It won’t be everyones cup of tea, but its a unique brew which will certainly be enjoyed by those who buy it.

Priced from $132,900


  • Diesel frugality
  • Exclusive appeal
  • Great long distance tourer


  • It’s a sports hatch not a wagon
  • Dimensions are difficult to judge from the wheel
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