The Sunday Mirror's motor expert says big estate cars can never be sexy. But Merc’s slippery new CLS Shooting Brake could change all that
When I first met my wife, I sensibly suggested she should drive a Mercedes estate – practical, roomy and perfect for kids, dogs and trips to IKEA.
She gave me a look that would have cracked a window. “Boring, blokey and as sexy as an old shoe,” she said, and walked away. Over the years, my suggestion has often been brought up in moments of domestic friction. Mrs W really was mortally offended. And I guess she’s right. Big estate cars can never be sexy. But Merc’s slippery new CLS Shooting Brake could change all that.
Low, dramatic and handsome, it has a rear end almost as shapely as Taylor Swift’s. And it doesn’t seem the least bit utilitarian, with a plush cabin, soft ride and sharp steering. That the CLS load-lugger doesn’t feel like an estate is its tour de force – a beast of burden that looks like a stallion.
I drove a 350 BlueTEC AMG diesel with nine-speed auto (yes, really) and saw 45 mpg. Top speed is 152 and it’s faster to 60 than a Jaguar E-type. Nobody’s going to think you’re a Cotswold antique dealer driving this. Self-levelling air suspension and speed-sensitive power steering make it smooth and sprightly and you forget about the 1,550 litres of load space following behind.
Most of the time you think you’re at the wheel of an S-Class Merc, marvelling at the ride, silence and posh poise. With prices starting at £48,000, it’s not cheap, but then this is no ordinary tricked-up estate. The CLS Shooting Brake is in a class all its own – deeply pretty and enormously distinctive.
The final acid test had to be Mrs W. What did the inveterate estate-hater think of Mercedes’ re-invention of the genre? She took the keys, disappeared to Tesco and, after an unreasonably long shopping trip, texted me a single word. Sexy.
And she hasn’t stopped driving it since.