Family cars are often thought of as boring, utilitarian affairs which sacrifice aesthetics and performance for practicality. However, more manufacturers are now realising that there is a market for cars that have it all.
The Mercedes-Benz Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake is one of those cars. Featuring incredible styling (well, to us anyway), great handling and more boot space than many SUVs (five hundred and ninety litres with the seats up), it seems, on paper, to tick all the boxes.
We were lucky enough to have Mercedes-Benz lend us a brand-new CLS 250 CDI Shooting Brake for a family weekend away. The twisty roads of the NSW Southern Highlands turned out to be the perfect environment for the car. The two-litre turbo diesel provided more than enough grunt on the freeway and the Mercedes-Benz ‘BlueEFFICIENCY‘ technology, which includes engine start-stop and other fuel-saving technologies that manage to keep combined fuel consumption to only 5.5l/100km.
The car we tried also had the ‘Driving Assistance Package PLUS‘ which incorporates a range of safety features including ‘Active Blind Spot Assist’, ‘Active Lane Keeping Assist’, and our favourite, ‘Distronic Plus’ proximity control, which automatically keeps the car a at a specified (timed) distance from the vehicle in front. Perfect for highway trips.
Other helpful features for families include rear seatbelt warning sensors, an electrically operated tailgate and one of the best Bluetooth media interfaces we’ve used – something that makes long trips with kids that much more enjoyable.
So, about the name… A shooting brake (or break) was the term used to refer to carriages that had been equipped with longer bodies to carry hunting equipment in nineteenth century England. It has now come to refer to a range of styles that include a longer body than usual.
Now for the bad news. At $134,925 (MRLP), this car is not going to be within many people’s budget. This is a niche vehicle that occupies a particular space in the market. But if you can afford it, the Shooting Brake is an amazing family car.