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Some months ago I popped into a Mercedes dealership and my attention was drawn to what looked like a stretched new A-Class and on closer inspection I discovered the badging- Shooting Brake. I have to admit I had forgotten such vehicles were still adorned with this badging. Shooting Brake is a term for a body style which originated in the 1890s as a horse-drawn wagon used to transport shooting parties with their equipment and game with the first automotive shooting brakes manufactured in the early 1900s in the UK.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, several high end European car manufacturers produced two-door shooting brake versions of their sports cars. The first production cars marketed as shooting-brakes of the modern era were the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS and the 2018 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. So it is a better known class of vehicle than I had imagined.

Described by Mercedes as emotional, dynamic and individual, the AMG CLA 45 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake and the AMG CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ Shooting Brake will only be available in limited numbers. Two new powerful compact cars that complement sporty athleticism with wide-ranging functionality, the two litre four-cylinder turbo engine now more powerful than ever, with an output of 387bhp or 421bhp. The combination of extremely sporty performance (rest to 100kph/62 mph in around four seconds) and the interior which offers much increased luggage capacity.

Clearly, the aim is to attract a young target group who lead an active and varied life, both at work and in their leisure time. The newcomer is the third model of a completely new performance compact cars portfolio and demonstrates that Mercedes have a range tailored to all types of individual wishes. The driving dynamics and the sporty product experience are on a level previously unimaginable in the compact class. The new Shooting Brake additionally offers a pronounced degree of practical utility value, which its expressive design idiom brings across with plenty of lifestyle appeal.

One new feature which makes a substantial contribution to the incomparable driving experience is the active, fully variable AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive: for the first time. This system offers selective power distribution to the wheels on the rear axle via AMG Torque Control. This means that the power is distributed to the left and right rear wheels highly flexibly and at different ratios, according to the given driving situation, resulting in optimum traction, whatever the road surface conditions and whatever course the route takes. In addition, Drift mode (standard on the S-Model), included in the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package for the base model) provides for even greater driving enjoyment. This is made possible by a newly developed rear axle differential, which for the first time incorporates two multi-plate clutches. These open and close at lightning speed to control the torque flow for each rear wheel individually.

The exterior packs plenty of emotional appeal, the long bonnet, the greenhouse with coupe-style window line, the muscular shoulders over the wheel arches and the low rear clearly reveal the vehicle’s sports car genes. The AMG-specific radiator grille with the vertical slats unmistakably identifies the Shooting Brake as a member of the AMG Performance family. At the same time, the “shark nose”, the sharply defined, narrow headlamps and the flat, aerodynamic bonnet lend the front a crouched appearance. The on road presence is also accentuated by the wider front wings with flared wheel arches. Yellow highlights feature throughout the interior on the S-Model, emphasizing the motor racing character of the more powerful models. Also included in the standard equipment are the AMG Performance steering wheel in nappa leather/Dinamica microfibre with contrasting yellow topstitching, a yellow 12 o’clock marking, AMG steering wheel buttons and AMG logo, plus ambience lighting.

All models feature the centre console in high-gloss black with a touchpad as standard and a further control array with additional switches controlling the three stage ESP, the manual transmission mode, the optional adaptive damping system AMG Ride Control and the optional AMG Performance exhaust system. It still remains as to which markets get the new Shooting Brake and in what numbers. The next time I venture to Germany and on an autobahn no doubt I will encounter the newcomer in the fast lane, but will I have enough pace to stay in touch? That all depends on my set of wheels!

Ian Lynas

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