“IT looks like Concorde” was one of the many favourable and rather unusual comments made about the distinctive swoopy styling of the long white Mercedes-Benz estate car which attracted numerous admirers wherever it was parked writes Bryan Longworth.
For cars from the premium German manufacturer now have real style after a period of rather conservative styling and the CLS Shooting Brake I was testing epitomises this new look probably more than any other model.
Mercedes-Benz has also called this car a Shooting Brake which is a name that goes back over 100 years to the days of transport for private shooting parties on country estates for cars of this type unlike some other premium manufacturers including German who have adopted fancy names for their estate cars and it is nice to have a traditional name again.
It is the sleek tapered coupe like rear of the CLS Shooting Brake and the shapely front with the large iconic Mercedes three pointed star that makes the car look so good and different from the outside but the leather clad interior with its polished wood cappings of my test car the CLS 350 CDI Blue Efficiency AMG Sport Shooting Brake was equally as classy and luxurious.
The car was powered by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine driving the rear wheels through an automatic gearbox that produced a top speed of 155mph, a very impressive zero to 62mph time of 6.6 seconds which made the test car quite a flying machine for a diesel and a combined fuel consumption of 47mpg.
There is air suspension at the rear which is ideal for maintaining the ride height level of heavy loads in the large rear 590 litre load area that has a spare wheel underneath and is accessed through a tailgate which is operated automatically and makes opening and closing it so much easier.
One of the features that made the test period so enjoyable was the well balanced steering system which was one of the best I have used plus the excellent handling and I found the gear shift control to the right of the steering wheel so accessible and easy to use as well.
The test car had a very impressive steering lock that made it much easier for carrying out tight turns but the car is so long the driver has to choose parking spaces carefully and I noticed that in supermarket car parks there was some overhang of the allotted spaces.
I liked the user friendly controls and instruments which have a top quality look and feel about them especially the very comprehensive on board computer that also allows the driver to see the speed of the car in a digital display as well as the conventional speedometer which is a very useful facility.
The LED adaptive headlights on the test car which cost £56,025 on the road (nearly £72,000 with all the optional extras on board) provided a superb spread of light that was ideal for night driving on my favourite bendy roads in the Peak District and the best lighting system I have yet encountered.
However, Mercedes persist with the foot operated parking brake which is rather surprising as some people are not keen on them especially disabled drivers and considering that the car is so high tech in everything else I would have thought that an electronic parking brake would have been fitted - I also felt that the exterior driving mirrors were rather visually intrusive.
With its AMG body styling kit the CLS Shooting Brake really cut the mustard being admired wherever it went and it is arguably the best looking and most striking in the executive sector of this market for those owners who want the best and most stylish estate car.
My Verdict: A classic estate.
Model: Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 CDI Blue Efficiency AMG Sport Shooting Brake.
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 diesel.
Output: 265bhp @ 3800rpm.
Transmission: Seven speed automatic.
Top speed: 155mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 6.6 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 47.1mpg combined.
CO2 emissions: 162g/km.
Price: £56,025 on the road.