SHOOTING THE BREEZE: Mercedes-Benz may well have a winner on their hands with their new CLS Shooting Brake. Available in three petrol-driven models right now – a diesel version could well be added before too long.
Definition: Shooting brake. “The interesting term shooting brake (or break) harks back to Victorian times, the name given to special carriages in 19th-Century England, intended to “break” the resistance of untamed horses, as well as “braking” their instinct to bolt, in order to make them fit for use as workhorses.
“Brakes were also extensively relied upon during hunting for the transport of guns and dogs. This kind of vehicle, used when going shooting, was known as a shooting break or shooting brake.”
Yeah... well... whatever. When your Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake/Break looks as good as this one, the country folk can call it what they like because, well, you've got one and they haven't.Image gallery
If you like the looks of the five-model line-up in the CLS range found in the Mercedes-Benz stable you’ll be blown away by the latest triumvirate added to the range. It's the CLS Shooting Brake and its arrived in South Africa just in time for Christmas.
In car parlance (as we’ve come to reinvent the term in modern times), shooting brakes gained marked popularity in the UK in the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. As an example, the hand-built, Ford V6-powered Reliant Scimitar GTE springs to mind. Another would be Volvo’s P1800S … but perhaps the best known was James Bond’s 1963 Aston Martin DB5, created by the marque’s CEO David Brown, who converted a “Bond” car into an experimental shooting-brake purely for his own use.
It became highly coveted in fox-hunting circles and the like and going on for 20 were produced to order. Other less overtly sporting versions existed, their claim to fame being strips of wood glued and riveted to the bodywork metal which, mostly, was green - maybe their owners thought camouflage was still a good idea, so soon after the Second World War.
Neither coupé nor estate car, the new Merc Shooting Brake represents an innovative development of the four-door coupé concept which was successfully introduced with the first CLS in 2004 and has since provided the template for numerous copycat designs.
FUNCTIONAL AND FACINATING
Selvin Govender, divisional manager for marketing at Mercedes-Benz Cars SA, told me at the launch: "Functionality is obligatory for a vehicle – our customers take this for granted. What sets a car apart is a special fascinating quality.
While unmistakably coupé in its proportions, the new CLS opens up a wealth of possibilities with four doors and a hatch and a roof extending all the way to the rear.
“The cars are based on the great tradition of stylish sportiness which has always characterised Mercedes-Benz and takes these unique icons an exciting step further. They stand for the enhanced design idiom of Mercedes-Benz which is oriented towards aesthetic, avant-garde principles."
The CLS Shooting Brake combines functionality and fascination in a unique and stylish way and is available with a choice of three petrol engines:
CLS 350 BlueEFFICIENCY non-turbo - (V6, 225kW/370Nm R835 000)
CLS 500 bi-turbo BlueEFFICIENCY - (V8, 300kW/600Nm R1 044 000)
CLS 63 AMG - (V8, 386kW/700Nm R1 380 000) with an extra R145 900 for the Shooting Brake ‘Edition 1’
The 350 and 500 each come with a seven-speed auto transmission, and, variously, customers will have a choice of five interior colours, five trim designs and two grades of leather.
The boot offers a lot of room with a load volume of 590-1550 litres, despite the flat, sporty lines of the roof, and is easy to use thanks to the electric tail door.
QUICK IN THE EXTREME
Acceleration figures from the manufacturer suggest a 0-100km sprint time of 6.7sec for the V6, 5.3 for the V8 and 4.4 for the AMG version – a figure that can even be improved on should you wish to have fitted the R145 900 ‘Edition 1’ option with the AMG driver’s package that takes top speed of the vehicle past 300km/h while shedding a tenth on the 0-100 time.
On the safety front are a dozen driver assistance systems. Standard are BAS PLUS and Pre-Safe Brake. Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist are available as part of the driving assistance package Plus together with Distronic Plus.
Both assistance systems can not only detect an unintentional lane change or vehicles in the blind spot but can also correct the direction of travel by gentle brake intervention if the driver ignores the visual or audible warnings.
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