Swift, secure and sumptuous - with the optional air suspension, anyway
Gorgeous materials and top-quality finish, but rear views are impaired by styling
Nine airbags as standard and a host of safety technology
Mercedes did well in latest customer satisfaction survey
Good for passengers but not quite as big a boot as some rivals'
Impressive rosta of standard equipment helps explain price
The Shooting Brake top notch road manners. We've only driven the two diesels (there's also a ridiculously powerful petrol) and both are strong and smooth, while the seven-speed automatic gearbox never falters. On optional air suspension the ride is cosseting at all speeds, and the car feels reassuringly well controlled on bends. The accurate, well-weighted steering is superb too, and the cabin is wonderfully quiet. However, watch out for the firmer standard suspension and the rock hard AMG Sport models.
The interior is mostly sumptuous, thanks to its lustrous materials and beautiful finish; just a couple of switches look like they come from a cheaper Merc. Some of the controls could be easier to use, too. The driving position is lower than in most rival estate cars but all versions come with some form of electric seat adjustment. Unfortunately, the payoff for the car's slinky roofline is a poor rear view and a limited view out for children in the rear. It also makes the boot rather shallow but it's impressively long and wide, and with its massive under-floor compartment it's still very practical.
All versions of the car come full of luxury kit including sat-nav, climate control, leather upholstery, a DAB radio, alloys, metallic paint and front and rear parking sensors.
Mercedes performed well in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey, which is reassuring. Still more comforting is the fact the Shooting Brake has no fewer than nine airbags, plus rear side airbags as an optional extra. Stability control, Attention Assist and the Mercedes Pre-Safe system, which automatically applies the brakes before an imminent impact, are all standard, and there are many options to make the car even safer.
There's no denying the Shooting Brake looks very expensive indeed next to other executive estates, but the generous equipment provision helps to explain that, so to some extent you get what you pay for. The diesels are fairly competitive on fuel and CO2 emissions, but bear in mind that residual values are likely to be weaker than some rivals' so the total ownership cost will still be pretty high.