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Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 Shooting Brake first drive review - pictures, specifications and 0-60 time

Early impressions of the new CLA 45

Price
from £42,270
  • Sharp looks and strong performance…
  • …but let down by a harsh and uninspiring engine, and at this price there are better alternatives

What is it?

An estate version of the existing CLA saloon. Of course, Mercedes doesn't call it an estate, rather the CLA wagon is tagged the Shooting Brake, and from its launch it can be had in range topping CLA 45 trim, as tested here.

This latest addition squares off Mercedes’ four-cylinder powered AMG line-up with ’Brake joining the A 45 five-door hatch, CLA 45 four-door coupe and the five-door GLA 45.

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Engine, transmission and 0-60 time

The CLA 45 Shooting Brake shares the same 1991cc four-cylinder engine with its single twin-scroll turbocharger as its 45 AMG counterparts, produces an identical 355bhp at 6000rpm and 332lb ft of torque between 2250rpm and 5000rpm.

As with other 45 AMG products, the only drivetrain available consists of Mercedes’ 7-speed AMG Speedshift gearbox mated to AMG’s Performance 4Matic four-wheel drive system, which means torque can be distributed to the front axle or split 50:50 with the rear.

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Despite adding 30kg to the coupe’s 1585kg kerb weight, Mercedes claims an identical 4.7sec 0-62mph time and restricted 155mph top speed for the Shooting Brake.

Technical highlights

The new car’s larger body has resulted in AMG’s engineers fitting soft rear springs and the car’s weight distribution switching from the coupe’s 60:40 to 58.5:41.5.

The body is also marginally stiffer. The softer rear chassis is down to the expected customer wanting it so, and is also why AMG’s sports suspension isn’t on the options list. There’s a quieter exhaust system for the same reason.

The CLA45 also gets a neat gurney flap on the leading edge of roof to help prevent lift at the front end.

What’s it like to drive?

In Comfort mode the gearbox isn’t the quickest to react to throttle inputs, and at times it can panic and drop too many ratios when all you really wanted was a quicker response and some turbocharged torque to carry you on your way. In Sport mode you get that flexibility and those quick reactions.

But the engine is still an issue. For all its technical highlights and full fat performance figures, the 45’s engine is far from class leading. While big on performance numbers it’s low on refinement and throttle adjustability. What it needs are two smaller turbos rather than one sodding great big one in order to delivery the desired flexibility.

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Our test car was running on winter tyres, and the test route offered no opportunity to assess the chassis’ dynamics. But the steering felt alert, the front end precise and the body well tied down. We’ll want a more comprehensive drive before providing a definitive verdict however.

Rivals

Two spring to mind – the BMW M135i (as a hatchback, it’s a more natural rival than the tastier M235i coupe), and Audi’s S3 Sportback.

Neither hatchback is a direct rival for the estate-like Mercedes, but the AMG is hardly commodious – there’s an additional 28mm of headroom in the rear and while the boot space is useful, the opening is narrow. And the BMW in particular has a much more sonorous engine, further illustrating the limitations of the AMG’s four-pot.

Both make the Mercedes look rather expensive – a five-door M135i starts at £31,725, the Sportback from £33,040 with an S tronic auto ‘box.

Price

That compares with £42,270 for the Mercedes. It’s the most powerful of the trio, which does go some way to justifying the price. And the cabin doesn’t want for much, despite the CLA being among the smaller vehicles Mercedes sells.

Even so, if looks are your priority, the Shooting Brake beats the cheaper CLA45 coupe hands down.

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Engine1991cc, in-line 4cyl, turbocharged
Power355bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque332lb ft @ 2250-5000rpm
0-62mph4.7sec (claimed)
Top speed155mph (limited)
MPG39.8
On saleNow
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