Name: Matt Hogben (BlackCup)
Car: Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG Shooting Brake
Previous cars: Renaultsport Megane 225 Cup, Renaultsport Megane 250, Ford Fiesta Mk2, Renaultsport Twingo 133 and Lotus Exige S2 S Touring
Purchased: February 2017 at 5,500 miles and six months old.
Why I bought it:
"Running the Twingo as a daily and dog car, with the Lotus for track work and weekend hooning, meant I ran into some expensive bills with both cars. They were each cars I'd always fancied running and I'd scratched that itch, so it was time to move on.
"I wanted something different; ideally German with creature comforts for everyday use (and ferrying the dog around), plus the ability to keep up with my mates' cars on weekend runs and track days as well.
"I wanted a Jekyll and Hyde car, so looked into fast estates. I discounted some of the obvious older stuff like RS4s and C63s, however desirable, fearful of unforeseen future costs and the cars being out of warranty. I like the Golf R Estate and BMW 340/335s, but their looks didn't do it for me and they're not as fast.
"I looked quite a bit at the A45 - especially with the aero pack in metallic green, which I really liked, but it was both over budget and too small for three bulldogs! However, that's where the CLA Shooting Brake came in...
"With 0-60 in 4.3 seconds and 100mph in around 10, performance was nigh on identical to my previous Exige (just several hundred kilos heavier). The power comes in at 381hp for the facelifted car and I know a cheeky remap can easily add another 50hp.
"I'd looked for a month for the Shooting Brake, watching the market and getting an idea what I'd want spec wise. When searching the Mercedes-Benz Approved Used site late one night, up popped a Mountain Grey car with the optional 19s, full leather, sunroof, switchable sports exhaust and heated seats - perfect!
"They'd had it a while (traded in by an older gentleman who found it a little too uncomfortable), but hadn't put it on the usual classifieds, so it was priced just in my budget and after some negotiation it was mine for £34,500 - quite a chunk off the (extortionate) list price. The catch? I had to travel from Woking to Grimsby to get it!"
Things I love:
"The looks - I'm sure they're not to everyone's taste (as with my previous cars), but to me I think the Shooting Brake combines a very modern and practical shape with a relatively small footprint as well as a distinctive Mercedes design. I love too that they're rare, especially in AMG form - most probably as they're overpriced to start with!
"It grips and grips, it wasn't until I did a track day I realised just how good the 4Matic system was. It's fast as hell, too - certainly faster than the Lotus, even on track, despite the weight difference. I guess it's a combination of the dual-clutch gearbox and high speed cornering grip, plus the lack of fear about spinning it! And it sounds great for a four-cylinder, especially with the optional sports exhaust. With the valves closed it's perfectly quiet and civilised, and then with them open it's almost yobbish - which I really like.
"Combine all this with Bluetooth, climate control, folding mirrors, power tailgate, a decent stereo and heated seats and the CLA is vastly more welcoming than the barren Lotus and Twingo!"
Things I hate:
"The squeaky sunroof! Very annoying, but probably fixable come service time. The passenger seat belt rattles on the metallic part of the seat when no one's sitting in it, too, but that's cured by tucking the belt around the side bolster.
"Crabbing in cold weather! 235/35 R19 tyres combined with tight maneuvering makes for godawful crab-like skipping and creaky squeaky noises - very annoying! Switching tyres in the near future may help.
"The start-stop - luckily it hardly ever works (due to all the necessary parameters - temperature, battery charge, air-con etc) but when it does it's frustrating. When you want to nip off at a junction or roundabout, it sometimes cuts out just as you want to go.
"The auto braking, which has to be switched off every time you start the car. It's great if you're dozy at the wheel and worry you'll shunt the car in front. However, when you're on track following people late on the brakes, if you've forgotten to disable the system it will slam them on for you and scare the life out of you!
"Fuel consumption isn't great either, at 23mpg, but understandable given it's a highly tuned 2.0 engine and carrying some serious weight- the panoramic sunroof is around 100kg!"
"Not a lot! It's cost me two tyres rather unexpectedly - I thought they had loads of life left but the inside edges had worn to the metal; luckily I was on my way home when I got the warning message on the dash. I'll be switching from the very capable Pirelli P Zero to the highly rated Michelin Pilot Sport 4 as all the tyres will need replacing soon.
"I opted early on for the monthly direct debit maintenance plan, so for about £30 a month for the first three years all the servicing is taken care of. It works out cheaper than paying separately.
"New pads are due soon, which are quite cheap at about £90 for the fronts.
"When I bought the car I also purchased all weather mats and a roll out boot protector for about £130 - vital for keeping the rear bumper dog proof!"
Where I've been:
"My wife and I got married up near Oban in Scotland about two weeks after I bought the car, so I put around 1,500 miles on it straight away. It was a perfect people hauler and was packed to the rafters.
"Several Sunday hoons, some long road trips north to see family and daily dog walking trips to the common. I only work a mile from home, yet I've managed to do 12,000 miles this year - I just love driving it!
"My favourite outing has been a weekend to Wales including a track day at Anglesey. What an amazing track, one that I'm returning to with even more mates this year. Throughout the day I pushed more and more, tightening my lines when I could feel the grip still there no matter how much speed I was carrying. The grunt from the engine is amazing, it just made the car come alive and cement my love for it. The only problem was stints had to be kept to around 15 minutes as brakes, fluid & tyres were OEM and took quite a pounding. I remember the lightweight Lotus (lightly modded with track brakes and sticky tyres) would go for more than 30 minutes without so much as a groan!"
"As mentioned, the new tyres from Michelin and some front pads. I will certainly add a remap when I feel I've become used to the power, but for now I don't really want to void the warranty. One or two track days, plenty of hoons when it warms up a bit and loads more V-Power while we can still buy it!"