CLA Shooting Brake: He says she says.

One car, two points of view.

Country roads and mountain passes are much better places to test the car.

She’s a mountaineer from South Tyrol and rates cars according to their practicality. He’s an artist from Munich with a keen eye for harmonious forms. Together, Tamara Lunger and Michael Pendry tested the CLA Shooting Brake in Salzburg.

Tamara Lunger climbs mountains, peaks such as K2, which she summited in 2014 without the use of supplementary bottled oxygen. Michael Pendry installs his works of art in public spaces – and occasionally also has to scale the heights, for example to fit LEDs to a wind turbine and turn it into a twinkling star. For both, the feelings of freedom and self-determination are extremely important. A routine office job would be out of the question for Tamara; Michael’s passion in life is to touch people with his art. When they meet up in Salzburg to test drive the CLA Shooting Brake, Michael suggests a drive into the surrounding mountains. Salzburg is a pretty town, but why stay there with the Gaisberg just on the doorstep?

The country roads and mountain passes are much better places to test the car than among the bus lanes and traffic lights. “What’s more, the mountains are important to both of us,” Michael explains. “Tamara sees them as her world, and I find them a counterbalance to my art.”

Tamara - mountaineer from South Tyrol.

Obviously, I like any car that is white as snow. And I love the shape. It tells you the CLA has got power. As an alpinist, I look for reliability in a climbing partner – when you’re thousands of meters up, there’s no one else around to help you. I feel the same about cars: I just don’t want to be let down – even if the going gets tough. The CLA Shooting Brake made me feel from the outset that I could rely on it. I also love the panoramic roof, it gives me the sense of freedom I need. I train outdoors almost every day for my tours – skiing, running, cycling, ice climbing. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than on a mountain with nothing but the wind around me. When I was Michael’s passenger, I pushed the seat right back so I could look at the sky through the open roof. As I don’t like feeling hemmed in, I also liked the frameless windows and the air vents that can be moved exactly as you want them, not just to the left and right.

Quite modest in fact.

Overall, the interior is pleasantly uncluttered, quite modest in fact – in contrast to the rather extrovert, sporty exterior. The uncluttered nature of the interior is due in part to the position of the automatic gearshift, which is behind the steering wheel rather than in the center console. So where you would traditionally shift gear in most cars, there is now stowage space for maps and chewing gum. People often think I’m just a climber. But my job also entails giving presentations, making films, attending press briefings and meetings with sponsors, as well as photo shoots.

That all takes a lot of time and often involves traveling long distances to get there, so I’m happy if I have a comfortable car. In spite of everything, the CLA Shooting Brake is out of the question for me at the moment: I have a helicopter pilot’s license and I’m saving up to buy my own helicopter. For me, that’s the most direct way to get to any mountain.

Michael - artist from Munich.

I ’m a fan of hatchbacks. After all, I have to find room not only for colleagues and my art materials, but also for my dog Lilly. The CLA Shooting Brake is very athletic in appearance. I’m not sure it’s really my type – whether it really represents what I stand for. Although I don’t see a car as a status symbol, I still think it’s important what it says about me. The radiator grille in diamond design with the chrome pins and eyebrow-shaped lights are great head-turning features. The elongated hood, distinctive lines and tapering roof contours are an outward expression of the power that lies within. I like that a lot, since as an artist I spend my time communicating content through form. My projects are very diverse. At the moment, I’m touring the world with an installation of 2,000 paper doves. The work is called “Les Colombes”, the French word for “doves”. I want people to be able to connect with my projects emotionally and directly, without having to read a lengthy explanatory text.

The car has amazing roadholding.

That’s exactly what works so well with the CLA – as soon as you get in, you find your way around intuitively. Of course, it’s unusual to have to select the gearshift setting for the automatic transmission on the steering wheel, but habit and intuition are not the same thing. In the mountains, the car has amazing roadholding and cornering ability. The engine is powerful, without resorting to attention-grabbing noise, and acceleration is impressive. The Shooting Brake’s onboard computer is beautifully designed, elegant and light, like a hooked-up iPad. The integral seats are sporty and the sense of space is astonishing, whether you’re sitting up front or in the rear. And I love the interior colors – black with silver and red highlights. I often use bold, striking colors in my installations, so perhaps that’s why I generally prefer the understatement of more muted colors for private spaces such as the car.