Mercedes-Benz CLS shooting brake sparkles at GoodwoodMon, 02 Jul 2012 00:00:00 -0700
Mercedes-Benz used the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed as the backdrop for the premiere of the definitive production version of its stylish new CLS shooting brake in Sussex, England.
Set to go on sale across Europe in October, the new sporting wagon was given a production go-ahead by Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche following positive reaction to the earlier E-class-based ConceptFascination prototype car unveiled at the 2008 Paris motor show and the subsequent CLS shooting brake show car wheeled out at the 2010 Beijing motor show.
Sadly, though, there are no plans to sell the new Mercedes-Benz model in North America, owing to what one official described to Autoweek as "the continued aversion to wagons by U.S. car buyers." That's despite the sales success and widespread appeal of the CLS sedan in North America.
To be produced with the same range of gasoline and diesel engines as the second-generation CLS sedan and boasting more luggage space than key rivals such as the Audi A6 Avant and the BMW 5-series Touring, the CLS shooting brake is the first of at least two new style-led estate models planned to be added to the Mercedes-Benz lineup by the middle of the decade.
A more affordable CLA shooting brake that is said to sport the same dramatic exterior treatment is undergoing development at the company's headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Based on the same front-wheel-drive underpinnings as the new A-class, the car is expected to go on sale in Europe by the end of 2014 at a price that will see it compete with the Audi A4 Avant and the BMW 3-series Touring, according to highly placed Mercedes-Benz insiders.
The modifications required to advance the CLS shooting brake show car to production readiness are slight, with only detailed features having undergone alteration. The car sits on the same mechanical base and shares the same heavily sculptured styling as the CLS sedan through to its substantial B-pillar, including its signature frameless doors.
From there on back it receives a unique roof that slopes back at a more acute angle than any existing Mercedes-Benz estate model. The rear doors retain the same outer skin but get reshaped glass. There is also an additional rear side window that serves to extend the glasshouse all the way back to the rear lights--a measure that extends the car visually. An angled rear window with rounded corners forms part of a shallow tailgate at the rear. The automatically operating arrangement opens to reveal a flat floor trunk.
Dimensionally, there are only minor differences between the sedan and the shooting-brake body styles--length was extended by 0.6 inch to 195.1 inches, width remains the same at 74.1 inches and height drops marginally to 55.6 inches. Underneath, both share the same 113.2-inch wheelbase and 62.8-inch front and 64.0-inch rear track widths.
Despite its distinctly sporting profile, the CLS shooting brake manages to pack an impressive 20.8 cubic feet beneath its luggage cover at the rear. This is nowhere near the amount of space provided by the E-class wagon, which has a nominal 24.5 cubic feet.
The CLS shooting brake shares its interior with the CLS sedan. Along with five individual trim designs, three choices of leather upholstery and three different types of wood, the new car can also be ordered with exclusive porcelain appointments. Among the changes made to accommodate its reworked layout is a new three-across rear seat with back rests that can be folded down from the rear. An automatically opening tailgate provides access to the luggage compartment, whose otherwise carpeted floor can be trimmed in a combination of cherry tree wood and brushed aluminum through Mercedes-Benz's Designo options program in a move that recalls the maritime inspired look of the original Fascination concept.
The CLS shooting brake will be sold with the same range of engines as the CLS sedan. In Europe it is the diesels that are expected to garner the majority of sales. They include a 201-hp turbocharged 2.1-liter four-cylinder in the price-leading CLS 250 CDI shooting brake and 261-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 in the more comprehensively equipped CLS 350 CDI shooting brake.
They will be joined by three gasoline units: a 302-hp naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 in the CLS 350 shooting brake, a 402-hp, twin-turbocharged 4.6-liter V8 in the CLS 500 shooting brake and a 518-hp, twin-turbocharged 6.2-liter V8 in a yet-to-be-officially-confirmed CLS 63 AMG shooting brake performance flagship planned to make its world debut at the 2012 Paris auto show in late September.
Mercedes-Benz's new sporting estate, known internally as the X219, will come as standard with an in-house-produced seven-speed automatic gearbox with three-mode operation: eco, sport and manual. Also included are contemporary fuel-saving functions such as automatic stop/start, brake-energy recuperation and on-demand operation of the engine ancillaries. The range-topping AMG model uses a seven speed MCT (multiclutch transmission), essentially a reworked version of the automatic with an automatic clutch in place of the traditional torque converter for more rapid shifts.
By Greg Kable