All-paw junior performance estate is easy on the eye, but can it also prove entertaining to drive on British roads?
When it comes to compact load-luggers, few deliver as much visual clout as Mercedes’ CLA Shooting Brake.The four-door coupé-cum-estate already melded dramatic styling with seats-down practicality, courtesy of an extended roofline and sloping tailgate that delivers more spaciousness than its CLA saloon sibling. But now this 35-badged performance version adds powertrain potency into the mix.It gets the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine you’ll find in the A35 hatchback, which sends an identical 302bhp and 295lb ft of torque through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and 4Matic four-wheel drive system. Power usually goes to the front wheels, but an electromechanically controlled multi-disc clutch can send as much as 50% towards the back axle. That allows for a 0-62mph sprint in just under five seconds, with an electronically governed top speed of 155mph.Suspension is by MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear. Our test car was fitted with Mercedes-AMG’s ride control adaptive damping.Affalterbach hasn’t dialled up the aggression too far (that’s saved for the even more hardcore CLA 45 Shooting Brake), but the 35 stands out from the standard CLA with bespoke front and rear bumpers and a pair of more purposeful tailpipes. An optional AMG style pack adds 19in black alloy wheels to the mix, along with front and rear diffusers and a more prominent spoiler.Mercedes reckons the Shooting Brake is one of its more popular models among younger buyers, and with the top-end CLA 45 priced beyond £50,000, the go-faster CLA 35 seems destined to make up a good portion of UK sales.