On the road in the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake

In Car Reviews, Mercedes-Benz by Tim Barnes-Clay

Sometimes a pair of new shoes feels just right.

No blisters ever appear and they soon become your go-to choice of footwear. Others cause you a little discomfort at first – but, once worn in, you feel as though you’d never mooched in anything else.

The Mercedes-Benz CLA 220 CDI Sport Shooting Brake I drove was very much the latter case in point. It took me a while fine-tuning the seat to give me the best driving position. I then had to adjust the steering wheel several times – and then get the lumbar support right. For the first day, I just couldn’t nail it and, wriggling uncomfortably, I was convinced this car wasn’t for me. But, by the second day of my week with the Mercedes, I felt it was made with my name on it.

Some car seats just require a quick fiddle here and there, and you’re all set up. I think the CLA’s sports seats with integral headrests simply take some getting used to. They’re sculpted in a curve-forwards position, and make you feel like your head needs to go back more – although that could have been me being finicky on the day the car was delivered.

Anyway, enough of the seats and my quibbling; let me explain why, generally speaking, the CLA is a first-rate specimen of German machinery.

[the_grid name=”Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake”]

Aesthetically, its proportions and dynamic design give the compact five-door estate an unmistakable appearance. The vehicle’s striking features include the bonnet embedded in the front end with power-domes and a diamond-look grille. The light modules and LEDs behind the headlamp cover glass have been arranged in such a way as to create a characteristic ‘flare effect’ for the daytime driving lights and indicators. This light signet defines the car’s energetic form and shapes a sprightly Mercedes face. The width-emphasising backside exudes muscle and athleticism, and the gently sloping roof contour provides the CLA with a coupé-style character.

The exterior’s progressive, sporty appearance is continued inside the Mercedes-Benz. All trim surfaces are galvanised in silver shadow, resulting in a cool-to-the-touch metallic finish. The instrument panel incorporates five large round vents, and there’s a prominent free-standing display screen that features a black piano-lacquer-look front panel with a flush-fitting silver frame.

In the back, the seats, once again, become a bone of contention. They are cramped for adults and not even the best fit for two child seats, but my nine and six-year-old coped without too much squabbling. On the plus side; the load space is good for this type of car.

On the road, the CLA 220’s turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine astounds for most situations. The car has superb grip when pushed through corners and its seven-speed automatic transmission soars and drops excellently under pressure. Especially noteworthy is the Mercedes’ direct steer system, which offers detailed feedback in comparison to conventional power steering.

Safety hasn’t been passed over either, with numerous driving assistance systems offering support and reducing your workload behind the wheel. Standard-fit features include sleepiness detection and radar-based collision prevention assist with adaptive brake assist, which helps to protect you from impacts from a speed of only 4mph.

About the Author

Tim Barnes-Clay


Tim Barnes-Clay qualified as a journalist in 1994 and is a member of the Midland Group of Motoring Writers. He initially trained in broadcast journalism and has worked as a reporter and news reader at various radio stations in East Anglia and the Midlands. He has also been a motoring journalist for the Mirror Group’s L!ve TV cable network and a presenter, reporter and producer at ITV Central in Birmingham. Tim is now an automotive writer, focusing on car reviews. He has media accreditation with all motor manufacturers’ press offices, and this enables him to test drive the latest cars. He also attends new vehicle press launches at home and abroad.

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