Is this a bad brake for Mercedes?

Chris Knap­man has a spell with the new CLA es­tate and, se­man­tics aside, is some­what un­der­whelmed

The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday - - Cars -

Alittle while ago my col­league, the es­teemed An­drew English, caused con­tro­versy by de­scrib­ing the Fer­rari FF as a “shoot­ing break”. “No, no, no!” shouted read­ers. “It’s brake, not break.” Mr English in­sists to this day that the terms are in­ter­change­able (and let’s face it, with that sur­name, he should know), but I’m afraid he’s now also up against the might of Mercedes, and specif­i­cally its lat­est model, the CLA Shoot­ing Brake. This is an es­tate ver­sion of the four-door coupé ver­sion of the mildly dis­ap­point­ing A-class hatch­back. Ba­si­cally, what Mercedes has done is shoe­horn the styling of the big and beau­ti­ful CLS Shoot­ing Brake on to its lit­tle brother. But it hasn’t re­ally worked be­cause all those com­plex droops, sweeps and curves re­quire a big car as their can­vas. On some­thing com­pact like the CLA, what you end up with is over­com­pli­cated, pinched in width and with a rear three­quar­ter that only (ob­scure ref­er­ence alert) a SsangYong Rodius could love. Things take an even more baf­fling turn when Mercedes boasts that at 495 litres the Shoot­ing Brake’s boot is big­ger than a C-class Es­tate’s. Yes, pro­vided you stop mea­sur­ing when you get to the win­dow line. But as any­one who has driven down the A303 on a bank Chris Knap­man tries the BMW X4, an SUV with rak­ish styling and sporty hand­ing. Is it a recipe for dis­as­ter? Find out by watch­ing our video re­view Watch at: tgr.ph/1zpfGOf hol­i­day week­end will know, peo­ple with es­tate cars don’t load them only to the win­dow line; they load them to the gun­wales, at which point the CLA’s coupé-like slop­ing roof is a huge hin­drance. To com­pound mat­ters, ac­cess­ing said boot isn’t par­tic­u­larly easy, be­cause the open­ing is nar­row, the lip high and the bumper so chunky that you just know you’re go­ing to ruin your trousers lean­ing over it. As for the back seats, well they’re just claus­tro­pho­bic on ac­count of how the body­work swoops in around the rear edge of the doors, in turn cre­at­ing the illusion that you’re sit­ting in the boot. This isn’t go­ing well, is it? The front is stan­dard A-class, which is to say not a match for a BMW or Audi. The plas­tics feel a bit cheap and the cen­tral tablet-style screen looks naff, but the di­als are clear, stor­age is ac­cept­able and, im­por­tant this, there’s a Mercedes badge on the steer­ing wheel. Oh, I should also men­tion visibility is poor. By this point you’d be hop­ing the Shoot­ing Brake could re­deem it­self when it came to the busi­ness of driv­ing. And if it weren’t for the noisy diesel en­gine and poor ride qual­ity it might. But those are damn­ing flaws in any car, let alone one wear­ing the three-pointed star. On the plus side, even though the test cars were wear­ing win­ter tyres, road roar wasn’t too in­tru­sive and the CLA’s shape is at least very aero­dy­namic, which keeps wind noise to a min­i­mum. To be fair, un­der mod­er­ate load the en­gine also qui­etens down, so this is a per­fectly ac­cept­able mo­tor­way cruiser, not to men­tion an eco­nom­i­cal one. But still the com­pro­mises are too great and, at al­most £33,000 as tested, the price is too high. If you want space, a Golf Es­tate is su­pe­rior in al­most ev­ery way. If it ain’t broke, don’t break it. Mercedes CLA 220 CDI Shoot­ing Brake Price as tested: £32,825 Power: 175bhp 0-62mph: 8.3sec Av­er­age mpg: 67.3 Rat­ing:

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