Test Drives

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 Shooting Brake Review: Load It Up



The CLA Shooting Brake delivers more space and style – but is it worth the S$30k more?

SINGAPORE

So, what exactly is a shooting brake? Back in the days of horse-drawn carriages, it was a term for wagons that were built to carry shooting equipment and hunting parties to wherever they wanted to hunt. These days however, the term has come to be used as a synonym for estate styled designs that have a sleeker air of a coupe to them. 

You could technically call the CLA 200 Shooting Brake an estate or a wagon, but marketing speak demands that it be labelled as a shooting brake, as much as Mercedes-Benz defines the car as a sporty and practical vehicle with an aerodynamic flair to the proceedings. 

This is the second-generation version of the car, replacing the original that was launched in 2015. It’s the largest of the A-Class derived designs and the car has a pleasing, angular look about its styling that is further accentuated by the AMG Line trim. Costing just $3,000 over the more conservative Progressive trim version, it’s likely the version that most buyers will choose when it comes to placing the order. 

Despite the extra weight of the extended roof it feels and drives very similarly to the standard CLA 200, which we drove last September. The car also shares the same dashboard architecture as the rest of the A-Class range, which combines the centre console’s display screen with the display for the digital instruments into one long panel across the dashboard.

It includes the MBUX interface, which means that you can talk to the car to get it to change various settings without actually pressing anything. The activation phrase is,’Hey Mercedes’, which prompts the car to respond by asking, ‘What can I do for you?’

We asked the care to change air-conditioner temperatures, fan speeds, and radio stations without a hitch, though we also discovered that just saying ‘Mercedes’ alone can often activate the MBUX, which sometimes gets confusing when you’re actually talking about the car with passengers while driving and the CLA thinks that you are talking to it. 

That’s easily remedied however as a button on the steering wheel’s left spoke can be used to toggle the activation of the MBUX.

The fully functional touchscreen display and touchpad control panel on the centre console will likely still be the way that most drivers adjust settings on the car, simply out of familiarity if nothing else.  

The current 1.3-litre turbo engine is as smooth as we remember, and with peak torque coming on at just over 1,600rpm it’s perfectly suited for urban commutes. The car’s transmission is still a little lazier than we would prefer however, though with the wealth of settings available to the driver you can usually find a setting that suits your driving style an traffic conditions. 

The extended roofline does make the interior feel reasonably big, though for the driver and front seat passenger the view is pretty much identical to the base model CLA.

As expected, luggage carrying capacity is where the CLA Shooting Brake excels, offering 505 litres over the 460 litres of the standard CLA. In practical use there is more than the rated volume available, as official specifications only measure the volume up to the bottom of the window line.

The owner of a CLA Shooting Brake will most likely have a good practical reason to buy one, or would be a big fan of the styling. That’s because the sticker price is above that of a base model Mercedes-Benz C 200 sedan, which is traditionally the least expensive of the ‘big’ Mercedes models, and let’s not forget the C 180 and C 160 are even cheaper, whereas the CLA 200 is still a smallish sedan with a very big boot. If you really do want or need a big boot without the associated increase in car size though, here’s your car.

However, at $191,888 with COE it’s priced around $30,000 more than the standard CLA 200, so the bottom line is that it’s a lot of money for around 45 litres of extra boot space. Design and styling are subjective decisions though, and this car does fill pretty specific niche for interested parties, but you’d have to be truly smitten to lay down the extra cash for it.

 

Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 Shooting Brake AMG Line

Engine 1,332cc, turbocharged inline 4
Power 163hp at 5500rpm
Torque 250Nm at 1620rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
0-100km/h 8.4 seconds 
Top Speed 226km/h
Fuel Efficiency 5.7L/100km
VES Band / CO2 B / 131g/km
Agent Cycle & Carriage
Price S$191,888 with COE
Availability Now
Verdict The CLA Shooting Brake looks cooler than the coupe and carries more stuff, but its price premium does it no favours

 

about the author

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Lionel Kong
An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.