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First Drive: 2016 Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG 4Matic Shooting Brake +VIDEO

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By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

THE HAGUE - March 15, 2015: The Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake is one of the new models that Mercedes presented in Geneva. Last week we could already drive the variant, that is a mixture of an estate and a coupe, echoing the large CLS Shooting Brake.

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Mercedes-Benz usually organizes a media event on the eve before the North American International Auto Show in the Cadillac Book Hotel in Detroit to show the cars that will appear on stage at the North American International Auto Show. This year it was not any different, but one of the new models to be presented was missing: the CLA Shooting Brake. It was not planned for a debut a day later in Cobo Hall either. However, one unit was hidden in the hotel, to be shown exclusively to European journalists during the next day’s breakfast meeting. Why? Mercedes had decided that the new body style, a mixture of an estate and a coupe, would only become available in Europe.

When the CLA Shooting Brake showed up at the Geneva Motor Show, one of my American colleagues asked no one in particular: “Why the hell don’t we get this…! BMW is already bringing its 3 Series Touring..!”

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A day after the show, I flew to Frankfurt for the first test drives with the CLA Shooting Brake. There, I asked the same question when I spoke to Jan-Paul Rubens. He is responsible for product marketing of the Mercedes CLA Coupe (in some markets called sedan) and CLA Shooting Brake, internally are known as C117 and X117 respectively. “We realize that estates are not really popular in North America. But in Geneva, we had such good feed back from American media, that we may consider to offer it there in the not too far future. For the moment, we are also somewhat restricted by production capacity. The CLA Coupe and Shooting Brake are built in Hungary and the engines in our German engine plant. Last year, we have invested to increase production of the 4-cilinder engines, but nevertheless there are delivery times.”

The 4-cylinder engines are produced for the models on the Modular Front-wheel drive Architecture (MFA), which debuted with the new A-Class. After the A-, B- and GLA-Class and the CLA Coupe, the Shooting Brake is the fifth variant that has been developed on this platform. Of the compact A-, B- and CLA-models more than one million units of have been sold between 2011 and 2014. A year ago, the GLA was added to the model line and in 2014 alone more than 463,000 units of the MFA- models were sold world wide.

“The Shooting Brake is a life style model for active young professionals,” said Rubens. “It can haul more stuff and its design, with the tapered roof line will attract a lot of attention.”

The four-door SB will be offered with a choice of four 4-cylinder gasoline and two diesel engines, with output ranging from 122 to 211 hp. The top model is the CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake that has the same 355 hp strong 2.0-liter 4-cilinder turbo engine as the CLA Coupe and GLA 45 crossover.

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Our base in the center of Frankfurt was perhaps a bit peculiar, especially when you are going to test the fast AMG model. But it is expected that the majority of the potential customers are living in metropolitan areas and they will mostly use the car for commuting. Although I do not expect the 45 AMG will be the model of choice for them. Customers opting for a performance variant will probably drive longer distances. That said, the AMG behaves really well in Frankfurt’s busy city center with its many traffic lights. We chose the AMG OrangeArt Edition, and no, that has nothing to do with our Dutch national sports color. The limited edition is painted in black and it only has modest orange highlights on the front and rear apron. The bi-xenon headlamps have orange highlight rings, while the rim flanges of the 18-inch AMG are also in that color.

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In the interior orange is used for top stitching and the upholstery of the sports seats is black with orange and white striping, while the black seat belts are accentuated with orange stripes. If you like bright colors, like me, you will like the cockpit. It is even possible to chose orange for the ambient lighting, as one of the twelve available colors. Personally, I prefer the least distracting soft white lighting.

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The iPad-like monitor is centrally positioned on the dashboard, but it cannot be operated with your fingers. You have to use the control knob in the center console. However, I miss a head-up display, which I would have expected in the most expensive top model (in the CLA 45 AMG Coupe costs around $ 54,000).

The three large air vents below the monitor and the ones on each side left and right in the dashboard have aluminum rims. They look hip, but on a sunny day, there is a lot of reflection in the side windows, which can be really disturbing. In the non-AMG models the openings are rimmed with black and red rings. When we later drove the CLA 250, we noticed they are o.k.

The excellent sport seats are well adjustable and the ideal position behind the flattened steering wheel is easily found. I prefer a round steering wheel, but admitted, this looks ‘racy’ and that suits an AMG model.

Driving in the busy city is uncomplicated, whether you are in a hurry or not. Mercedes has not ignored the comment on the hard adjustment of the chassis of the 45 AMG Coupe and has in the meantime adjusted springs and dampers. The new set up has also been applied to the AMG Shooting Brake, of which the suspension is 0.7 inches lower compared to the standard model. And really, the sport-tuned AMG is not uncomfortable and works away unevenness of the road quite well. But short bumps and train tracks are quite noticeable.

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Just like the V8 engines in the CLS63 and the SLS AMG, also the 2-liter turbo engine in the CLA AMG models are hand built by one person, whose name is stamped in a plate that is mounted on top of the engine cover. Jan-Paul Rubens: “AMG-customers love it and when they take European delivery at the customer center in Sindelfingen, they usually want to meet ‘their’ engineer.“

The four-cylinder power plant in the CLA 45 AMG Shooting Brake produces 355 hp, with maximum torque of 332 lb-ft available between 2,250 and 5,000 rpm. The car sprints in 4.7 seconds to 62 mph and reaches a top speed of 155 mph.

The 2.0-liter engine has assistance of a high pressure twin-scroll turbo charger, which ensures that there is no turbo lag and that you can race ahead from lower engine revs. From 5000 rpm, the AMG engine merrily keeps pulling until the red line at 6,100 rpm is reached.

Like the SLS AMG, also the CLA has a dual-clutch 7-speed transmission. In ‘C’-mode (Controlled Efficiency), transmission and engine work efficiently together, providing a civilized character with the start-stop system active. In ‘M’ (manual) and ‘S’ (Sport), the switching pattern is shorter thanks to shorter interruptions of the ignition and influencing the injection. For even sportier driving, there is the so-called ‘M Momentary mode '', as in the AMG GT sports car. In addition, you can hear the shift points then by a 'blip'. It sounds like ‘electronically generated 'misfire'.

The car is also equipped with racing start and there is the possibility to chose from three ESP modes: ESP On, ESP Sport Handling Mode and Off.

The CLA has 4Matic with front-drive as default mode. Torque is variable up to 50/50 split, depending on vehicle speed, steering angle, position of the accelerator, gear selection, lateral and longitudinal acceleration and differences in wheel speed. On the Autobahn and a short route through the Taunus mountains, we can more freely push the throttle and try out both Sports and SuperSport. But admitted, the latter does not add much fun on the busy public roads.

Our test route was still a little icy here and there's and the CLA shows some understeer. By selecting Sport mode intervention of the ESP-system is delayed and more torque goes to the rear axle., so that it is easier to deal with understeer if you are a bit overconfident.

To really go to extremes with the fast Shooting Brake, you should go to a race track.

Thanks to the design, the AMG Shooting Brake is actually a lifestyle car: good for (super) sporty driving with the ability to impress three or four passengers. The wheel base is the same as of the Coupe, which means that leg room behind a 5’7” tall driver is getting tight. But an advantage is the fact that the longer roof offers 1.6 inches more headroom in the rear.

As a mixture of an estate and a coupe, the Shooting Brake offers good use of luggage space. Being a mixture of an estate and a coupe, means more practicality. Therefore, the luggage compartment of 17.5 cu-ft can be expanded to 49.3 cu-ft. by folding up the rear seats. If the rear seats are moved into the more steep ‘cargo’ position the load capacity increases to 21 cu-ft. Since the design does not use split tail lights, the opening of the hatch is narrower than you may expect from a wagon. Well, if you want to be beautiful you have to suffer… not to much in this case!

Station wagons of the past may be out of fashion in the New World, but here in Europe they are immensely popular. Mercedes expects that the mix between the Shooting Brake and the Coupe will be 50:50, and on other markets world wide 30:70. Not bad either.

It would be interesting to see if Americans will fall back in love again with the practicality of such models. The stylish Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake is one of them that deserves to cross the Atlantic, deserves to be embraced.

Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG 4Matic Shooting Brake OrangeArt

Technical details

Engine				4-cylinder direct injection, turbo charger
Cilinder capacity		1.991 cc/122
Max.power kW/bhp		265/355 @ 6000 rpm
Max.torque			450 Nm/332 lb-ft @ 2250-5000 rpm
Transmission			7-speed dual clutch automatic w/manual shift mode 
Length/width/height		4691/1777/1417 mm - 184.8/70.0/55.8 inches
Wheel base			2699 mm/106.3 inches
Tires				235/35R19 (standard 235/40R 18)
Safety equipment *	Assist Plus, ESP Curve Dynamic Assist, Active bonnet

Acceleration 0-62 mph	4,7 s
Top speed	250 km/h / 155 mph
Fuel consumption	6,9-7.1 l/100 km (EU cycle)
CO2-emission	161 g/100 km
*) standard on all CLA Shooting Brake models

Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake Press Release

Market launch campaign for the new Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake: Designed for urban hunting.

Stuttgart Mar 06, 2015; Under the claim "Designed for urban hunting", the integrated market launch campaign stages the new Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake as a hunter stalking prey in the urban jungle. High above the roofs of the city or immersed in the depths of the vibrant nightlife – the CLA Shooting Brake is the ideal companion for people with active leisure pursuits and an individual lifestyle. As a perfect blend of coupé and estate car, it combines elegantly sporty design with above-average spaciousness and guarantees maximum recreational value. Furthermore, the fifth member of the compact car family is always linked up to the world around it via "Mercedes connect me".

"The CLA Shooting Brake is ideally suited to a young target group that seeks inspiring experiences and new challenges. With this in mind, we are showcasing the vehicle in an urban jungle setting and evoking a dynamic lifestyle which we refer to as 'urban hunting' - the hunt for thrills and adventures in the city. At the same time, we are also alluding to the essential form of the shooting brake, which originated from a hunting vehicle. We are sure that the new CLA Shooting Brake will strike a chord with our target group", says Dr Jens Thiemer, Head of Marketing Communications at Mercedes-Benz Cars.

The mix employed for the market launch campaign takes in all communication media. The print adverts show the CLA Shooting Brake in front of a breath-taking scenery above the roofs of various metropolises. From these impressive vantage points it looks out over the depths of the city in all its details and is able to focus on its next destination. The print campaign comprises three motifs and started on 2 March 2015 in daily newspapers and magazines throughout Germany.

With Nico Rosberg through the city at night

The TV spot shows the CLA Shooting Brake as a night-time hunter. It sits on a parking deck high above the city. Formula One driver Nico Rosberg walks towards the car and thanks to "Mercedes connect me" unlocks the vehicle with his smartphone. The drive through the darkness of the metropolis begins. The vibrant urban nightlife rushes by in atmospheric images: underground clubs, trendy bars and restaurants, a party on a rooftop terrace, a sneakers boutique and an art house theatre. The images are interspersed with dynamic driving scenes. The voice-over recites an homage to the players in this nightlife – and reaches its climax with the sentence: "I'll find you, wherever you are hiding". The TV commercial showcases the new CLA Shooting Brake with "Mercedes connect me" as the ideal vehicle for pursuing adventures in the big city. From 9 March 2015, the spot will air worldwide in lengths between 20 and 60 seconds (

With the "Connected City" web special on a tour of discovery

The digital campaign "Connected City" shows the CLA Shooting Brake as an urban hunter above the rooftops of the fascinating metropolises of Frankfurt, Paris, Barcelona, Milan, Brussels and Tokyo. In each case, it is always in touch with the heartbeat of the city and ready for the next adventure. The web special is available online at and offers two levels. Level one provides the user with all relevant information about the vehicle. Those interested can use an animation to rotate the vehicle by 360 degrees and even have a close look at the interior through the camera lens. The six metropolises symbolise various aspects of the vehicle. Frankfurt stands for connectivity, Barcelona for the exterior design, Tokyo for safety, Brussels for comfort, Paris for the interior design and Milan for driving dynamics. For each city, four special vehicle features are presented in more detail in line with the respective topic. On the second level of the web special the user is immersed deeper into the metropolises and can experience up to nine hip hot spots for each city. These include galleries, bars, restaurants, fashion temples or concept stores. By clicking on a hot spot, the user learns interesting facts like in a trendy magazine and gets the particular addresses and contact information. In addition, the national hot spots can also be used by the markets as test-drive and event locations for marketing the vehicle.

Mercedes-Benz's creative agency Jung von Matt/Alster and next is responsible for designing and implementing the campaign.

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