BY BRIAN BYRNE
IN honesty, the style of the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake is not my favourite in the brand. It’s a personal thing, and doubtless most people would find it quite svelte. But I think the beautiful shape of the compact coupé on which it is based can’t be messed with without losing something.
What hasn’t been lost is the very pleasant underlying car that it is. Which did make me rather get over my stylist misgivings. Also, too, the wagon design did improve rear headroom, and gave a seriously capacious boot space. Both of which are important to those who need more of a family car than is the coupé.
The CLA family is in its second generation as of last year, building on the very real success of the first one introduced in 2013. The Shooting Brake of the first generation came in 2015, but for this latest one the company didn’t wait around too long after the new coupé.
Like its predecessor and the coupés, it is a front-wheel drive car. Overall it’s bigger, interior space benefiting from the longer wheelbase of the new to the model platform. It’s wider, lower too, by a little in each.
Though not something you can see, the almost completely flat underbody makes all versions of the CLA very aerodynamically efficient, certainly in conjunction with the 1.5 diesel engine of the review car.
Inside is familiar territory now for those who get to drive a modern Mercedes. That ubiquitous MBUX interface with all the information and entertainment elements now essential to spreads across from the driver to well within the view of front passenger. We have got used to how it works, notwithstanding the continuing nonsense of the touchpad.
I got to give the car a fairly extensive workout, with some distances on a couple of days of my driving time with it. It was a nice experience that, as I suggested, allowed me to put the bits I didn’t like into their true perspective.
The car had a seven-speed dual clutch automatic, which worked well especially in the move-off area where such transmissions have fallen down in smoothness in the past. All these things are tweaked by software now, and the engineers have got the hang of it.
If I detailed the specification that came with the car, I’d be doubling the length of this article. Suffice to say that you get all you would expect in a compact executive ‘badge’ car. Plus nice driving and a sense of special.