IF someone has raffish charm they might be considered, according to Webster’s online dictionary, “not completely acceptable or respectable but
Motoring review by Nigel Wigmore
IF someone has raffish charm they might be considered, according to Webster’s online dictionary, “not completely acceptable or respectable but interesting and attractive”.
In this kind of mood, you could add “dashing” or “adventurous” to the mix. Taking things a bit further still, there might even be a hint of danger.
And indeed, there was a raffish charm about this week’s drive, a strikingly different — to my eyes — Mercedes-Benz. Its low, sleek, swooping design lines had me hooked a while ago when I spied one on the road. I couldn’t wait to drive one and it did not disappoint.
But while the driving was quite sublime — as one comes to expect from Mercedes-Benz — it was the absolute style of this car that attracted me.
To give it its full title, the car was a Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY AMG Sport Shooting Brake. That last part of the name — shooting brake — makes this particular Mercedes-Benz even more raffish in my bedazzled eyes. And actually, the name explains a lot: it conjures up the aesthetic attributes of a bygone age of motor cars brought back to life by the German carmaker in the 21st century. Shooting brake originated as an early 19th century British term for a vehicle used to carry shooting parties.
The New York Times said recently that the shooting brake was conceived “to take gentlemen on the hunt with their firearms and dogs”. The body style, the newspaper went on, was undergoing a renaissance as carmakers try to invent (or reinvent) “new kinds” of vehicles.
Well, this kind of retro re-invention certainly gets my vote. With a car such as the Mercedes-Benz Shooting Brake you not only get the looks but you get the sports performance, too. But this being the “green” age of car production, there is no truck with the blood-and-guts type of engines that presumably went hand-in-glove with the shooting brakes of old. The Mercedes-Benz has a sophisticated 2,143cc four-cylinder common-rail diesel engine with twin turbocharger which together with the BlueEFFICIENCY — “green” technical attributes — delivers 53.3mpg on the combined fuel cycle.
The car — which has a sport mode — can fly from 0 to 62mph in 7.8 seconds and top 146mph. With its Palladium Silver metallic paint and black leather interior, it is the kind of car that any “gentleman on the hunt” might wish for, not necessarily to rock up to a shooting party but certainly to swan around town and country.
The 7G-Tronic Plus 7-Speed Automatic gearbox does everything for you but that is not to say at the expense of “driver involvement” in the car.
There are gear shift paddles if you feel the need and whether in “eco” or sport modes, together with the AMG additions — AMG enhances the brand’s performance and comfort — this is a car you feel very much at home in as a driver. Passengers report equal amounts of satisfaction, though one has to realise the low styling creates a sleeker, interior with a lowish roofline.
Standard equipment is manifest and includes a panoply of assets such as AMG bodystyling — front and rear aprons — and equipment: auto-dimming, electronically adjustable and heated door mirrors with integrated LED indicators, LED Intelligent Light System with headlamps, Active Light System, cornering light function, headlamp wash and Adaptive High Beam Assist.
The audio and sat-nav equipment in the test car were particularly special but come at an additional price of £950 (there is a standard equipment that is an Audio 20 with Media Interface and six-disc CD changer with MP3 compatibility.)
The car’s sat-nav — a COMAND Online system with Media Interface — flagged up speed restrictions, parking areas and even while approaching motorway service stations indicated where you might munch on some KFC chicken nuggets if this was your thing. Of course, with cars such as these where you get a much higher level of everything from performance to in-car entertainment, you pay a premium. The test car with extras came in at just on £57,000. But the truth is that at this level you experience a whole new kind of motoring.
I realise that the “shooting brake” look will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But to my mind this particular Mercedes-Benz’s dashing, raffish looks add a further and, dare I say it, glamorous dimension to motoring in an age that is often sadly lacking in real style.
* The Mercedes-Benz CLS 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY AMG Sport Shooting Brake costs £52,395 on the road. Standard equipment includes 19in AMG alloy wheels — five-spoke design with burnished Titanium Silver finish — black leather upholstery and metallic paint, Adaptive Brake System including full hold function and flashing brake lights, alarm system with electronic immobiliser and interior protection including ELCODE locking system.
with infrared remote control locking and designer key; Dual-stage airbags for driver and front passenger, sidebags in front seat, windowbags for driver, front paggesnger and rear passenger, pelvisbag and kneebag for driver