Mercedes joins hunt

The Shoot­ing Brake adds new ap­peal to the CLS range, writes Stu­art Martin

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

THE search for new niche mar­kets and in­cre­men­tal sales has prompted Mercedes-Benz to green-light pro­duc­tion of the CLS Shoot­ing Brake.

A CLS wagon by any other name, the coupe-based five-door con­cept made its de­but at the Auto China mo­tor show in Bei­jing early this year.

Mercedes-Benz Aus­tralia has its hand up for the pro­duc­tion ver­sion and is aim­ing for a late 2012 ar­rival.

Se­nior cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager David McCarthy says the com­pany is keen for the car to make it to Aus­tralia.

‘‘I don’t see any rea­son why we won’t get it — it’s CLS plat­form so right-hand drive shouldn’t be an is­sue. We think it will be a great ad­di­tion to the range,’’ he says.

McCarthy says there are no de­tails on whether the car’s name will change.

‘‘The con­cept car was Shoot­ing Break, SLS is known as Gull­wing — it will be re­ferred to as Shoot­ing Brake; if it is of­fi­cially known as that I don’t know,’’ he says.

The CLS Shoot­ing Brake will go into pro­duc­tion in 2012 at the Sin­delfin­gen assem­bly line, the com­pany’s largest pro­duc­tion plant, which al­ready builds the SLS AMG Gull­wing, C and S-Class sedan, CL-Class, E and CLS-Class ranges.

The new model will be built on the same pro­duc­tion line as the CLS and the E-Class Sedan, a log­i­cal move given the trio share a plat­form.

Aus­tralian Mercedes-Benz CLS coupe sales av­er­age about 500 a year, ac­cord­ing to McCarthy, and there are al­ready 20 or­ders for the new car, which could top 1000 units a year with the ad­di­tion of a diesel and the Shoot­ing Brake model.

‘‘I see no rea­son why it won’t sell at the same rate or higher — the ad­di­tion of the diesel, I think, will be in­cre­men­tal. It de­pends on the mar­ket health. Shoot­ing Brake, I think, will sell quite well — it’s a car peo­ple will buy for the looks,’’ he says.

Daim­ler chair­man Di­eter Zetsche says the CLS Shoot­ing Brake is the next step into the model seg­ment cre­ated by the CLS, which has sold 170,000 glob­ally since its launch.

‘‘In 2004, Mercedes-Benz es­tab­lished a new ve­hi­cle seg­ment with the four-door Coupe CLS and cre­ated a de­sign icon,’’ he says.

The ori­gin of the term ‘‘Shoot­ing Brake’’ harks back to car­riages used to break in wild horses. The ve­hi­cles had to re­strict the horses’ move­ments to train them for du­ties as work­horses, but the dam­age done in the process meant the carts were ex­pend­able.

‘‘Brakes’’ were of­ten equipped with dif­fer­ent bod­ies, in­clud­ing rigs for hunt­ing, hence the shoot­ing ref­er­ence.

Mercedes says that dur­ing the 1960s and 1970s mo­torised ‘‘ Shoot­ing Breaks’’ were pop­u­lar in the UK as ‘‘cross-over’’ ve­hi­cles.

On tar­get: Aus­tralia has its hand up for the CLS Shoot­ing Brake.

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