Mercedes added this year a very appealing version to its A Class series, the very stylish Shooting Brake. It came to us in "disegno polar silver magno", and we must admit that in these summer times, this colour suited the shooting brake quite well.
We drove it with a very suave and smooth 100 kW version of the well known 2143 cc four cylinder Diesel engine, coupled to the marvellous 7 speed DCT transmission. Offering refined, spacious and comfortable transportation? Well, what else did you expect?
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Stepping into the car, we were very pleased with the feeling of roominess which pervaded us on first acquaintance. The design team did very well in conveying this atmosphere of airiness, despite the fact that the cabin was executed in black, with for example black "Artico" leather for the seats.
Of course, the familiar design elements which we came to like so much in the A Class, like the circular vents, the brushed aluminium panels, the "classic" circular instruments, made us immediately feel at home.
Add to this the pleasant and ergonomically superb touch and feel of gearlever, cruise control, indicators/windscreen wiper commands, and you are again cocooned in the "savoir faire" of the oldest car manufacturer in the world. You feel very comfortable in this Merc, which sports also a very subtle airco, which, whilst being quite powerful, can also be called to the task very discreetly.
Indeed, even many hours of long distance driving or spending a long time in urban traffic will never disturb your "zen" mood behind the wheel with the star...
Velvet and frugal progress
An important factor in this feeling of suave comfort is of course the silky smooth engine and transmission. In 100 kW power tune, the well known four cylinder 2143 cc diesel "workhorse" of Mercedes is silent, vibrationless, extremely well mannered, with not the slightest hint of roughness, at any load or any revs.
Even at the lower legal cruising speeds, meaning the 80-90 kph range, driving this Merc in seventh gear does not mean any vibrations or audible hums, with the engine pulling here at the lowish rev ranges between 1200 and 1400 rpm.
This is no small feat, and it adds to the impression of great refinement which pervades the man or woman behind the wheel...
Performance is more than lively, with the 7 speed box choosing expertly the right gear for every driving situation. All this happens without any jerks or delays, just delivering a smooth, uninterrupted stream of power.
0 to 100 is achieved in 9,9 seconds, high cruising speeds are completely effortless, the excellent aerodynamics (cw value of 0.27) of the shooting brake bodywork warrant a top speed of some 215 km/h. Torque is plentiful, with 300 Nm available between 1400 and 3000 rpm.
Economy is also at the rendez-vous, and we can say that even in this "standard" or "classic" drive train layout, we achieved consumption figures which came very close to the 300 C BlueTECH HYBRID we tested earlier. Admittedly, the CLA here is lighter and less powerful, but the results are impressive nonetheless. We achieved an average consumption of 5,3 litres, the manufacturer quotes 4,1 litres/100 km for the official test cycle. Again here, with some concentration and anticipation, it is quite possible to achieve consumptions below 5 litres/100 km. (See photo above, taken at cruising speed...)
Well balanced suspension
The oldest manufacturer in the world knows something about striking an ideal balance between handling and comfort. Indeed, the decades long experience of engineering and building comfortable limousines with outstanding dynamic qualities really tells.
This all dates back to the legendary times of genius Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who not only oversaw the development and construction of the late pre war and early post war "silver Arrows", but also the Mille Miglia winning 300 SLR's, and put his stamp on all cars, down to the "ponton" and later the "Heckflossen" limousines.
And his lessons are carried over by his successors at the drawing table and in the pre-production centres, to deliver this unique ride the cars with the star are known and coveted for.
This Shooting Brake continues the good tradition, being comfortable, swallowing all holes, ridges and asphalt asperities admirably, and yet giving at all times the driver this pleasant feel of command and control over the car. Indeed, the CLA steers with precision, and of course has also the state of the art suspension layout and geometry which is able to deliver all this. The car corners as if on rails up to very high speeds, and has excellent straight line stability.
The Shooting Brake is of course quite practical for its size. Boot space is a standard 495 litres with the rear seat backrests upright. When you fold them both down, space increases to a good 1354 litres, available as a completely flat floor, as any practical car should have.
The build quality, level of finish is beyond reproach, and the firmness of the seat upholstery and leather thickness make for a very long service life without the slightest signs of wear and tear, a quality which should not be overlooked, certainly when considering the purchase of a premium class car.
The seats provide excellent support by the way, we also appreciated the 4-way electronically adjustable lumbar support, provided on the front seats in our test car.
This Shooting Brake is a very welcome addition to the A class range, conveying the unique upmarket “ambiente”, touch and feel of the bigger C Class.
It is very stylish, well built and practical, with the further advantage of reasonable compactness. The 100 kW power tune of the well known 2,1 litre Diesel strikes a very pleasant balance between refinement, economy and performance, and in combination with the 7 speed auto is in our eyes close to ideal in many respects.
So of you are looking for A Class (marks) in the vast Mercedes range of passenger cars, this Shooting Brake will earn you very high marks indeed...
Hans Knol ten Bensel