More Than Meets The Eye | Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Shooting Brake

BY Azfar Hashim

The CLA250 Shooting Brake sounds like another segment-filler for Mercedes-Benz, but is it talented enough to actually work?

Photos by Azfar Hashim & Jonathan Lim

Ask me, “If you could only have one car, and one car only to answer all of your needs, what would it be?” and my answer would be the Porsche Macan S. 


But the problem to my answer is this: The price tag. FYI, it’s $281k without COE, and without adding any other options. Add all up, and we’re probably looking at a grand price of… Excuse me while I mentally calculate this… $380k. And that’s a lot of money; Even for an aspiring couple within my age group (30 to 40 year olds) who, for example, have a combined monthly income of $12k.

We all want a Porsche - well, who doesn’t? But forking $190k deposit, paying $23k on interest and then a monthly installment of more than $3.5k for the next five years, is undeniably a real stretch. These figures may not be precise, but you should know what I’m going at here…

All that said, let me apologise for sidetracking off the intended new car review today. To get back to the plot, say hello to the new Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Shooting Brake.

And I actually love this car: It has everything I need, and I’m sure even those - again - within my age group would probably agree. Firstly, it has style; yes, you have the CLA’s front, but from the B-pillar onwards, everything is different; it flows smoothly towards the car’s rump, with the sides full of lines to make the overall shape of the Shooting Brake much more outstanding.

So Mercedes-Benz may package it as ‘not a wagon’, but heck, everything about it shouts wagon. But one that oozes style — I kid you not, while driving this car alone, it still gets the attention from the other gender. I should know because I don’t possess any model-esque looks even with sunglasses on. And Mercedes was also kind enough to make 18-inch alloys wrapped in 255/40 R-18 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT rubbers a standard fitment, complimenting the AMG kit - as seen on this test car - very, very well.

Standing only at 1,435 mm tall and with roof slots for racks, it makes it easy for those with active lifestyle to mount their bike racks along with their bikes on to the car. Or if you’re planning on a long road trip, say, to Thailand, you could also easily fix a roof box on.

Interior wise, the Shooting Brake shares every bit with the A Class and CLA sedan. So you get clearly displayed control buttons, commanding driving position (love that perfectly-sized steering wheel), a pair of sports seats up in front, typical Mercedes-Benz build quality and lastly, red seatbelts (a $1,200 option, unfortunately).

The rear, surprisingly, is comfortable even for our junior writer, Jonathan. This tall lad, who we last checked stands at close to 1.8-meters tall, complimented the generous amount of both head and legroom. We attributed this to the roof that doesn’t slope dramatically down the C-pillar, unlike in the CLA sedan, and also due to the fact that you don’t perch like a bird but instead sit snugly back there.

This Shooting Brake offers a boot space of 495-litres, but once you bring the rear seats down and remove the boot tray, it expands to 1,354-litres - useful when you need space to carry all those barang-barang to the weekend flea market.

Powering this CLA250 Shooting Brake is a 2.0-litre, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that’s mated to Mercedes’s 7-speed dual-clutch DCT automatic. This combo enables the car to whip out 211 bhp with maximum torque a respectable 350 Nm, available from as low as 1,200 rpm. Just for the sake of comparison, the slightly boyish Golf GTI whips out 220 bhp and 350 Nm from 1,500 rpm. The Golf GTI is slightly faster than the CLA250 Shooting brake, although it’s only by a mere 0.3 seconds; this, obviously because (a) the CLA250 is a four-wheel drive, and (b) it’s lugging additional sheet metal.

Only 185 kg separates the two, true, but the Shooting Brake’s numbers do appear threatening to a supreme hot-hatch.

This button allows you to drive the CLA250 Shooting Brake in either Economy, Sport or Manual modes. Economy is optimal for the daily grind, while Manual lets you select your own gears fully

This button allows you to drive the CLA250 Shooting Brake in either Economy, Sport or Manual modes. Economy is optimal for the daily grind, while Manual lets you select your own gears fully

That said, off the mark acceleration can be rather brutal when you decide to floor the gas when the light turns green; complimenting this rather teenage behaviour however, is a wondrous “braap!” when the gears shift up. It gets louder too when you decide to use the paddle-shifter and swap ratios close to the 6,400 rpm redline; even more sensational when you decide to wring it between third and fourth in the CTE or MCE.

Handling wise, the Shooting Brake does it very confidently even along high-speed corners. Once you get used to the — initially annoying — self-centering steering, you’ll appreciate the weight and feedback and also the fact that you know exactly where the front two wheels are going. Yes it does understeer at the limit, but you need to be overly brazen to be able to induce such thing out of the car. Also worthy of praise is how sorted it is; there are body movements during sudden lane changes, but it’s vehement pliancy you get and not the sort of violent body movements that potentially throw passengers about like ragdolls.

Throughout the CLA range, this one is designed for grown ups but in a surprising twist, you could still have a good amount of fun when the road condition gets slightly wet. The Shooting Brake does enable you to switch off the ESP, allowing you to enjoy some four-wheel oversteer; but the moment it detects you’re having way too much fun, the traction control will sort out everything so you do not have to make any unnecessary calls for a tow truck. Err… or give the significant other 1,001 stories how it happened.

At the end of the day, the CLA250 Shooting Brake has successfully demonstrated itself as a stylish, dependable and fun do-it-all sort of car. I must admit that it gave me lots of reasons to smile, on top of surprising the foolishly unsuspecting. That boot space is another USP for this car.

So if you still feel you’re not ready for the Macan S yet, this car is a good alternative choice for the time being. You’re looking at a $200,888 price tag with COE, and even if you’d go silly with the option list, it would only jump to about $210k. Put down a deposit of $105k, a $13k interest and you’re looking at a $1.9k 60 month instalment. For a couple earning $12k a month, that sounds alright still…

Again, that Macan S could (still) wait.