Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake Review

Driven: One car to rule them all? The CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake might just be it...

By Tim Kendall | 7th July 2013

Vital Statistics

  • Model: CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake
  • Engine: 5.5 V8 Bi-turbo petrol (557hp)
  • Transmission: 7-speed auto
  • Price: £83,055 (£107,000 as tested)
  • 0-60: 4.3 secs
  • Top Speed: 155 mph (limited)
  • Economy: 28 mpg (combined)
  • Options fitted to test car:
    See Text

What is it?

If you’ve ever gone on a mental wander through your dream lottery win garage, I’ll wager there’s a diverse selection of fictional four-wheeled fantasies in there. There’s probably the go-to Italian exotica, the obligatory Range Rover, some premium German metal and a few track day toys huddled into your 16-car de-humidified timber-framed daydream. Perhaps the odd classic or three.

What if the numbers never come up though? Harsh though it may seem, it might not be you. So you’ll need to get by with just the one car to satiate all your four-wheeled needs – carrying offspring/ shopping/ flat-pack furniture and going fast. And looking good. One of these full-fat Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake things ought to do the trick quite nicely.

And here’s one DrivingTalk drove earlier.

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake

A fusion of coupe style and estate practicality

 

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake

Svelte load carrier or style over substance?

2013 Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake: CLS estate?

Yes, what the heck is a Shooting Brake? DrivingTalk is either reviewing a misspelt weekend in the sticks with some Purdeys and tweed, or Merc’s estate version of the CLS. For the avoidance of doubt it’s the latter. Yes, Mercedes has created an estate version of a coupe version of a saloon.

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake

Estate cars don’t come much better looking

What’s special about the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake then?

If you want a petrol-powered CLS Shooting Brake, this is your lot. Such is the march of the dirty black pump in the big exec sector that the only petrol-flavoured ‘Brake available is this pants-on-fire 5.5-litre V8 Bi-turbo with a healthy 557hp. Still, if your pockets are deep enough, that’s no hardship.

The Shooting Brake is a touch lardier than the saloon, at a portly 1880kg, but it will still wipe the wag off your labrador’s tail very quickly – in 4.3 seconds to be precise, if you keep the loud pedal nailed from a standstill. Best lash Fido down to the boot floor before trying that one.

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake engine

Another outing for AMG’s ubiquitous 5.5-litre V8 Bi-turbo motor

Like the ’63 AMG versions of the regular CLS and E-Class, the SB’s power is channeled through a seven-speed MCT ‘box with a fancy electronic clutch in place of a torque converter. There are also paddles on the steering wheel and four settings with which to tease that 590lb ft of torque onto the tarmac. The default is  ‘C’ mode (for ‘controlled efficiency’), whilst progressively quicker gear changes are at your beck and call if you select ‘S’ (for sport), ‘S+’  or ‘M’ (manual) – which allows you to bounce off the rev limiter until your ears bleed.

The price of all this swoopy-roofed firepower is a not insubstantial £83,055 – a sight more than the equally quick and more capacious E63 AMG wagon. You might prefer the Shooting Brake’s seductive silhouette, but you’ll pay about £7.5k more for that pert derrière.

The new Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake: What’s the Interior like?

Inside the Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake, it’s a cut above the plasticky blandness that characterised Merc interiors of the noughties – which indeed it should be given the £83k price tag before you dip your chequebook into the options list. Restrained, attractive and solidly screwed together, it feels suitably expensive and like it will last.  It’s also worth mentioning that AMG currently use the most wonderfully tactile leather and alcantara on its steering wheels and the Shooting Brake’s flat-bottomed item is a particularly pleasant thing to grapple with – but not pointlessly chunky. Handling its peachy spokes will set you back another £395, mind.

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake interior

Opulent and well-finished, it’s a return to proper Mercedes interiors

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake bootspace

There’s less space in here than the cheaper E63 AMG estate…

Of course the whole purpose of the ‘Brake is to add a mite more practicality into the CLS’s mix of luxury and style. Which it does, to a point. There’s a pretty useful 1550 litres of space back there and a long, flat loadbay which will comfortably house a bit of flatpack furniture or a couple of medium height pooches. The limiting factor is of course the swooping roofline, which eats into the Shooting Brake’s ultimate carrying capacity – and the rear headroom. Then there’s the fact the E-Class wagon offers a more convincing 1950 litres of cargo space. But you’re probably buying one of these for the looks – and the suggestion an estate bodystyle makes about your lifestyle and ability to reproduce. Let’s crack on.

What’s the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake like to drive?

AMG’s current range is the Ronseal of performance cars. You know what you’re going to get – monster performance, a thunderous soundtrack and a split personality – happy mooching around town yet capable of giving anything from BMW’s M-division a good slap about the chops. The CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake doesn’t buck the trend – it’s fantastically usable and indecently quick.

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake

The CLS 63 Shooting Brake does what it says on the tin

Despite the Shooting Brake’s considerable heft, the raw pace it can serve up – allied to very strong traction – makes it quite the weapon for getting from A to B very quickly. Sure – anything from Audi’s RS stable is likely to offer more all-weather ability – but given the 557hp and 590lb ft that the rear tyres have to cope with, it’s ability to transmit the power onto the road and not spin it away in a cloud of seared Michelin, is remarkable.

Pudding or soufflé. Does the CLS 63 AMG handle?

Remarkably so for a heavyweight estate car. Even on the pockmarked roads around Silverstone the big CLS wagon displayed brilliant body control in the face of serious provocation. It’s not unflappable, but it is very, very good. You can feel what the front wheels are doing thanks to direct and communicative steering and hustling the ’63 along B-roads is far easier than it should be given the size and bulk.

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake

But, there’s a but. The unique way in which Britain’s roads are funded – i.e. not at all – means if you want to drive the CLS 63 Shooting Brake like you’ve stolen it, you’d be well-advised to leave the switchable dampers in ‘comfort’ mode. Put them in the stiffer setting and you’re likely to be on first name terms with your chiropractor.

Options fitted to test car: 

Bang & Olufsen BeoSound AMG 14-speaker surround sound package, digital TV tuner, night-view assist, AMG interior and exterior carbon-fibre trim packages, reversing camera, lane-tracking package and blind-spot assist, Dynamic Multi-contour front seats, Comfort-Ventilated front seats, 19″ AMG forged wheels, AMG Performance steering wheel, keyless go

 2013 Mercedes CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake Pictures:

visit the Mercedes UK website

Mercedes CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake Review

  • Performance: 10/10
  • Ride & Handling: 8/10
  • Economy: 6/10
  • Equipment: 8/10
  • Want one factor: 9/10

The Verdict

You're either sold on the concept of an estate car based on a coupé that's more expensive yet less practical and no faster than it's conventionally proportioned stablemate. Or you're not. DrivingTalk is convinced though - Merc's niche within a niche within a niche is lairy yet civilised, cool but not shouty and possibly the perfect one-car-to-rule-them-all. The CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake has it. In spades.

Summary

  • Ballistic to drive and stunning to look at
  • You'll need deep pockets to buy and run it

By Tim Kendall
7th July 2013

Comments

  1. Richard Palmer says:

    Picked one of these up at the end of Dec. Feels what I imagine a Bentley feels like. Practical, beautifully made and huge (although to be fair, my last car was a Cayman S!). Wonderful tech and so much prettier than an E-Class estate. Then there’s that engine. What a noise, what performance! Just don’t think about the miles per gallon! In a nutshell, it makes me feel good and that’s what specialist cars should do!

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