Modern estate cars are now the last word in stylish, sporty wheels. We road test two recent additions to our roads, the Jaguar XF Sportbrake and the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake
What is it? When premium car makers such as Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz produce cars that look suspiciously like estates, they cleverly call them shooting brakes or sport brakes. The construction of performance estate cars, or “shooting brakes”, has always been an exclusive pursuit. In the Twenties, the advantages of a car that could carry guns and people at the same time, hence ‘shooting brakes’, were realised and the shooting brake market has grown from there. The very striking and elegant CLS Shooting Brake is the latest addition to the Mercedes Benz range and is based on the second-generation CLS four-door coupe. The Jaguar XF Sportbrake is based on the XF saloon.
Who is it aimed at? Anyone with big dogs, designer wellies or five kids will love these elongated saloons.
Styling: With its sleek coupe lines and frameless side windows, Mercedes has blended the sexiness of a two-door with the practicality of an estate. With sweeping contoured and elegant lines to the front, the Jaguar is simply gorgeous and makes it almost impossible to determine which is the better looking of the two estates.
Under the Bonnet: At the heart of the CLS you will find a 2.1 litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. With 200bhp of maximum power this Mercedes can reach a top speed of 146mph and complete the 0-60mph dash in just 7.8 seconds. Our 2.2. turbo diesel Jaguar goes from zero to 60 in 8.0 seconds and packs 200bhp with a formidable 450Nm of torque at 2,000rpm.
- What about Inside? The Shooting Brake’s interior, dashboard and controls are all up to Mercedes’ usual high standard. In contrast, the XF Sport brake is a little staid and dull inside. It also has a pretty confounding menu system which frustrated my attempts to change the radio station. The Mercedes is certainly a more exquisite place to reside and is the last word in stylish aesthetics oriented towards supreme comfort.
As you’d expect from an estate, the CLS Shooting Brake has a massive boot, with the 590-litre cargo space extending to 1,500-litres when the rear seats are lowered. The Jaguar has almost identical space, 550 litres with the rear seats in place and 1,675 litres with the rear seats folded flat. But inside, legroom in the back is not huge in either and rear occupants will feel particularly short-changed if you suggest a third passenger.
On the Road? On the road, the XF is smooth and responsive and matches the saloon for dynamic handling ability. Traction is excellent and it is surprisingly sure-footed for its size. In all, a good balance of beauty and power but we would have liked a bigger engine to really appreciate this big cat’s capability. The chassis and suspension have been improved to provide a sportier, more responsive drive with excellent steering precision. While the Mercedes CLS is composed and the steering nicely weighted, the suspension is a little too firm and the smaller engine struggles at times. Body roll is evident but in a car this size, these are minor details it provides an excellent blend of comfort and control.
And Safety? The CLS comes equipped with including two-stage front airbags, a kneebag for the driver, sidebags and pelvisbags in the front, and windowbags. Sidebags in the rear doors are available as an option. The XF Sportbrake features two-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger as well as side and curtain airbags to protect all occupants.
Options? Our test car, the Mercedes Benz CLS 250 CDI and starts from £49,360. Extras on our car included an exterior sport pack, metallic paint, leather and electric heated front seats. Two model lines are available the CLS Shooting Brake and CLS AMG Sport Shooting Brake, and three engines – one petrol and two diesel.
The starting price for the Jaguar XF Sportbrake is considerably lower at £31,940. Black metallic pain, burr walnut, space saver wheel, alloy wheels and a park aid kit were among the many tempting extras on our test car.
Engine options include a diesel 2.2 with more 163bhp and a 3.0-litre diesel and 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine.
What about fuel economy? The Mercedes averages 53.3 mpg fuel with CO2 emissions of 139 g/km while the Jaguar averaged 55 mpg and has Co2 emissions of just 137 g/km.
Okay so the Verdict? Stylish, practical and beautiful to drive, the Jaguar just manages to have the edge over the Mercedes. It’s the perfect match for drivers who crave sporty performance but don’t want to forsake practicality and comfort. Either way, each one will impress and while you could pay less for other comparably equipped cars, few will make you feel quite as smart or as fashionable. It’s nearly worth getting a couple of dogs to justify the purchase but then on second thoughts, would you really want to let a dog loose in either car?
Why you’ll buy one? Luxury; Style; Performance
Why you won’t? Price; Practicality
|Jaguar XF Sportbrake||Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class|
|Engine:||2179cc turbodiesel||2143 cc Diesel|
|Max speed:||124 mph||146 mph|
|0-60 mph:||8.0 seconds||7.8 seconds|
|Emissions (Class) :||135g/km (EU5)||139g/km (EU5)|
|Price of test car:||£31,940||£49,385|
|No of Doors:||5||5|
|Euro NCAP:||not tested||not tested|
|Fuel Economy (combined cycle):||55mpg||53.3mpg|
|Boot Capacity Seats up(down) :||550(1675)||590 (1550)|
|Car Seats:||2 isofix fittings in the back||2 isofix fittings in the back|
24th April, 2013