Set for its formal debut at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show, the new Mercedes-Benz Shooting Break Concept offers a good look at what lies ahead for the upcoming 2011 CLS Class. This one-off wonder wagon embodies many of the stylistic and mechanical elements we can expect to see in the new production CLS sedan, including its distinctive SLS-inspired front end treatment that's destined to become part of the entire M-B lineup in the years ahead. However, this even-more-versatile variant also seems certain to make it to volume-build status alongside M-B's original "four-door coupe."

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According to Professor Gorden Wagener, chief designer at Mercedes-Benz: "The Shooting Break concept car is based on the great tradition of a stylish, cultivated sportiness which has always characterized the great Mercedes Coupes, and it takes this unique legacy an exciting step further. At the same time, it points the way towards the future design idiom of Mercedes-Benz."

Speaking of idiom, Mercedes also provided an explanation of why it decided to call this concept a Shooting "Break" rather that the more traditional "Brake" appellation that has long been used by the British -- and virtually everyone else on earth -- to describe this type of fashionable estate wagon. Just for the record, the official release advised "Break, or the homonym Brake, was the name once given to carriages used to "break" in wild horses and also to restrict (or "brake") their urge to move, so that they could be put to use as work horses." Hope that clears things up...

Looks that thrill

Intent on raising the emotional appeal of its basic design approach, the M-B styling team endowed the Shooting Break Concept with sweeping lines and dynamic contours from its distinctive "soft nose" and flowing panoramic glass roof treatment to its purposefully sculpted side panels and elegant detailing. The Shooting Break's bold grille is flanked by LED headlamps -- marking M-B first implementation of full LED functionality. The bold wraparound taillamps use the same high-intensity technology. Pronounced fender flares provide high-profile accentuation of wheelwells filled with staggered-width Z-rated tires (255/30 front and 285/25 rear) on 20-inch sterling silver finish alloy wheels. However, the Shooting Break's recessed, touch-activated filigree door handles add a more subtle but no less engaging finishing touch.

An Accommodating Personality

In keeping with M-B tradition, the Shooting Break's passenger compartment is an exercise in fine wood and supple leather, here set off by matte-finish aluminum trim. The wraparound dash features a tri-binacle instrument cluster and prominent central display screen complemented by slick "wavedesign" air vents while four individual seats provide all aboard with exceptional comfort. A full-length console bisects the cabin and features wood inlays with a neo-retro flavor and cursive-script Mercedes lettering that also adorns the front door sill plates. Even the Shooting Break's cargo bay boasts its own distinctive flair, featuring a floor rendered in dark silky oak inlaid with protective aluminum rub strips in a style reminiscent of the techniques used by classic yacht builders.

The Power of Tomorrow

For all of its exhilarating visual presence, the Mercedes-Benz Shooting Break Concept also introduces the forerunner of the automaker's next-generation of V-configuration engines. Here, it's a 60-degree V6 that features advanced direct fuel injection with the latest-generation of peizo-electric injection valves that permit multiple injections per cycle and offers even better lean-run operation to improve efficiency. The new V6 produces 306 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque while adopting mileage-maxing start/stop technology.

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