2013 Mercedes CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake
Now there's a high-performance variant, thanks to the boffins at Mercedes' tuning arm, AMG; they've fitted the same 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol from the regular CLS63 AMG into the Shooting Brake.
The engine has huge levels of power – 549bhp, and 590lb ft of torque – but then, the CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake engine also has a hefty price to go with it. Is it really good enough to justify a list price of more than £83,000?
What’s the 2013 Mercedes CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake like to drive?
It won’t surprise you to learn that the 549bhp twin-turbo V8 in the CLS63 Shooting Brake has few problems in catapulting the car down an empty stretch of road. Mercedes claims a 0-62mph time of just 4.3 seconds and that feels genuinely realistic; the level of traction available from rest is seriously impressive.
Thankfully, the addition of turbocharging to AMG's V8 engine doesn’t rob the Shooting Brake of a suitable soundtrack. The exhaust note is loud and full of character, although if you are just in the mood for a refined cruise, the noise fades nicely into the background at British motorway speeds.
If there's a weak link it's the gearbox. Merc's seven-speed dual-clutch automatic unit is fine when you’re just cruising along, but it can feel a little overwhelmed if you decide to make extra demands of it. Put the car into 'Sport' mode and while other elements (notably the suspension) feel like they've become more focused as a result, the gearbox seems reluctant to live up to the billing.
The suspension is close to being too firm for the UK, too. Things are tolerable when you're cruising along a motorway in 'Comfort', but the more extreme modes get considerably more uncomfortable. That's the price you pay for such agility on twistier roads; the CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake is far more chuckable than a car that weighs more than 1800kg has any right to be. Its steering is nicely weighted and direct, and body control is excellent.
What’s the 2013 Mercedes CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake like inside?
The regular CLS Shooting Brake's interior is a fine example of a subtle, high-quality cabin, and the AMG only builds on that. You get sports seats, a piano black finish on the fascia and higher-quality leather on the sports steering wheel – although there's plenty of scope for further enhancements (and payments) on the options list.
Our test car had the Bang & Olufsen stereo upgrade and sports seats with automatic seat bolsters (which hold you in place better during cornering), plus several other extras, and had a list price of around £107,000.
That aside, the CLS Shooting Brake's main curiosity – that it's an estate car without estate car practicality – is just as true here as it is in regular models. There's a wide, flat load bay, but the roofline is extremely low, so the total space with the seats down is 1550 litres. Compared with the E-Class estate's potential 1950 litres, that looks pretty poor.
There's enough space in the rear for two adults to sit in comfort, although tall rear occupants may moan about the low roofline.
Should I buy one?
You'll need to be very sold on the shape of the CLS Shooting Brake to justify buying this car over, say, the E63 AMG Estate. The E63 offers the same aural excitement and jaw-dropping pace, but also delivers Wembley Arena-like capacity in the boot and caters more sympathetically for rear passengers. It's cheaper, too; if you want a complete, rapid estate, look to the E63 – not this one.
However, as an oddity – a standalone performance tool to compare with the likes of the Audi RS7 or the BMW M6 Gran Coupe – the CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake has real showroom appeal and the ability to back it up on the road.
What Car? says...
BMW M6 Gran Coupe
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
Engine size 5.5-litre V8 petrol
Price from £83,055
Torque 590lb ft
0-62mph 4.3 seconds
Top speed 155mph
By John McIlroy