Mercedes Benz CLS: Pack the caviar and wine, dear

By David Wilkins

Mercedes Benz CLS Shooting Brake is an 'upstairs' rather than a 'downstairs' car.
Mercedes Benz CLS Shooting Brake is an 'upstairs' rather than a 'downstairs' car.

Shooting Brake's a station wagon with elegance, writes David Wilkins.

Mercedes has unveiled the dramatically-styled station wagon version of the CLS, the CLS Shooting Brake. The car was revealed at a special event held at the Mercedes-Benz World brand centre at Brooklands, the traditional home of British motor racing.

Mercedes likes to describe the standard CLS as a four-door coupe rather than as a sedan - a reflection of its low, swooping roofline, and the Shooting Brake has a similarly sporty appearance despite the addition of a rear tailgate and an extra dose of practicality.

Other distinctive features of the standard four-door car, such as the frameless side windows, are retained. One unusual option is an attractive luggage compartment floor that uses American cherry tree wood in order to achieve a yacht-like effect. The wooden floor is part of the extensive "designo" range of personalisation options that offers buyers almost endless scope to stamp their own personalities on their cars.

Mechanically, the CLS Shooting Brake is similar to the standard version, sharing such technical features as air suspension and extensive use of aluminium bodywork in the interests of weight saving.

All cars have Mercedes' seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission and stop/start technology. There are 152kW and 197kW diesel engines (badged 250 CDI and 350 CDI) and 228kW and 304kW petrols (350 and 500).

The 350 CDI diesel and 500 petrol are also available with the 4Matic all-wheel drive system, an option that has always been popular with European Mercedes buyers but which the company has tended not to offer in the right-hand drive markets, partly because of the complications associated with converting the cars.

The CLS Shooting Brake is part of an important new "product offensive" being mounted by Mercedes in order to re-establish its pre-eminent position in the premium car market - a goal that is now being defined more aggressively in terms of hard sales volumes compared with rivals Audi and BMW, rather than more abstract dear

concepts of leadership.

Speaking prior to the unveiling of the CLS Shooting Brake at a lunch in London hosted by journalists of the Fleet Street Motoring Group, Dr Dieter Zetsche, the extravagantly moustachioed CEO of Mercedes' parent company, Daimler AG, outlined an expansive vision of the brand's future.

The main sources of growth are expected to be continuing strong demand from non-European markets such as China, and model line extensions such as Mercedes' growing compact car family that will eventually comprise a total of five different products based on the platform that underpins the latest A-Class and B-Class.

In all, 10 new cars that have no current equivalent will be launched.

Mercedes-Benz NZ's general manager, Ben Giffen, who saw the car in Germany earlier this year, and described it as "absolutely stunning", says it will be available here early next year.

"We're definitely planning to bring the CLS Shooting Brake to New Zealand, but haven't yet made a final decision on the model mix and engine options," he told Driven.

-The Independent

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