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The base Mercedes-Benz CLS, now in its second generation, is a four-door coupe-styled car for people who find the E-class just too common, while the Shooting Brake tested here is basically an estate version of that coupe.
It's far from cheap. At £52,205 for this AMG Sport version, the higher of two trim levels, the CLS 250 CDI Shooting Brake is over £10,000 more expensive than a regular E-class Estate. Admittedly it's stunning, but thanks to that curvy design you're losing more than 100 litres of boot space despite the Shooting Brake being slightly longer. To its credit, it is marginally more efficient than the E-class Estate due mainly to its better aerodynamics, but that's a small advantage.
The 204hp engine is reasonably efficient at 143g/km, or 139g/km for the lower-specced model with smaller wheels, but although it doesn't seem underpowered, it never quite feels like it has the thrust to go with the looks. There is a 265hp 3.0-litre CLS350 CDI alternative, which would solve the issue, but at 162g/km the emissions are prohibitive and it's an extra £3590 on the P11D too.
But the big selling point for the Shooting Brake is its uniqueness. It's a distinctive and glamorous shape, and even in this age of prestige German brands in particular inventing new niches on a seemingly monthly basis, Audi and BMW don't yet have anything to compete directly. The BMW 5-series GT is as close as either can get, and that's very much the ugly sister next to the CLS, although it's more practically orientated.
However, you're certainly paying for the privilege of the CLS's looks. An E250 CDI Estate AMG Sport would cost 83.8p per mile to run, while this Shooting Brake comes in at 106.7ppm, which is a heck of a price to pay. The residual value is as crippling as the P11D, with the Shooting Brake predicted to retain 34.6% compared with the Estate's 41.0%.
If you want practicality then the wagon is probably the way to go, but if you want a sportier style then the CLS Coupe is only 70 litres smaller in the boot, looks just as good and costs £1785, or 2.7p per mile, less.
Mercedes CLS 250 CDI Shooting Brake AMG Sport
Service, maintenance and repair
Vehicle Excise Duty
Cost per mile
BIK 20/40% per month
Boot space min/max
Good-looking and impressive, but caught between two stools.