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Test Drive: CLS Shooting Brake

Mercedes-Benz reimagines the wagon-coupé with five doors

by Josh Rubin in Design on 17 September 2012

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On a recent trip to Florence with Mercedes-Benz I had a chance to drive their all-new CLS Shooting Brake. A five-door reinterpretation of the classic wagon-coupé, this eclectic design shows just how exciting a station wagon can be. The "SB" will begin shipping in Europe later this Fall and is available with a range of options, engine types and even an AMG version.

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With Jean from Notcot as co-pilot, we drove stretches of highway, the crowded streets of Florence and the winding roads that connect charming Tuscan villages. The SB delivered a driving experience we've come to expect from Mercedes—a balance of precision, responsiveness and luxury. Measuring 16mm longer than the CLS Coupé, it's not a small car, but handling is still firm and sporty. There's ample leg room in the back seats and plenty of space in the boot, despite the aggressive angle reducing the total volume capacity.

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Among the design features, the SB can be ordered with American Cherry wood flooring in the boot. Both a throw-back to its hunting car origins and a nod to premium yachting, the uncovered floors left us wondering why carpeting ever became a common lining material in the first place.

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Though we started with the 8-cylinder CLS 500, we quickly graduated to the 557hp CLS 63 AMG for a boost in both power and handling. As a long-time lover of the strange marriage of sport-tuning and a station wagon, I was thrilled to have the same thrust and gurgle of the E63 AMG Wagon, but with a more aggressive, less boxy design. And it's with this, the CLS segment, that we see the growing schism in the Mercedes-Benz design language—one side safe and square, the other edgy and creative.

With five engines to choose from and a range of finishing options, the CLS Shooting Brake starts at €61,761 for the base model and ranges up to €117,512 for the AMG version. For the time being, the Shooting Brake is not coming to the US, but we're hopeful that will change in the near future.

Images by Josh Rubin

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