Super Star (Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake)

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Scanning local roads to identify wagons can be considered not the easiest of tasks, given that drivers tend to opt for sedans, crossovers or full-fledged SUVs. But we reckon that those who like wagons fall in a unique category – they do value cabin space much more than other aspects of vehicle ownership. But one need not compromise substance with style nowadays with wagons gaining much more aesthetic appeal – the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake exudes plenty of visual charm, while possessing the ability to lug along much more space than its coupe sibling! Yes, it might have a sloping roofline which might hinder rear headroom, but it is deceptively spacious for a sporty wagon.

Terence, the owner of this CLA Shooting Brake, is no stranger to wagons, having owned the Honda Accord wagon prior to this acquisition. We like his choice of vehicles – the appeal of a stretched hauler endows the owner with more options in terms of vehicle customisation. No bonus points for guessing how Terence decided to modify the car – the main man behind the entire EMMA Singapore operation has created an intriguing in-car entertainment (ICE) setup – a project that needs no introduction within the regional ICE fraternity given his massive involvement with EMMA. Terence is also the man behind I.C.E. Net, which distributes Mosconi, Gladen, Micro Precision, Alphard and Brian products locally.

As we understand from Terence, he does his own deliveries and as he takes care of some parts of Asia’s distribution network, he will usually organise activities for overseas guests. Thus, boot space is very important to him. His Mercedes CLA Shooting Brake is the first that we got to experience equipped with a full sound quality ICE system.

At first glance, everything from the dash remains original. The source unit from Mercedes was retained, but to satisfy a guy like Terence, he chose the Mosconi DSP 8to12 Aerospace signal processor due to its Hi-Res capability and multiple channel configuration, along with its high-end sound tuning options. It is possible to control all channels of speakers in their Time alignment, crossover points and 30-band parametric equalizer, too.

Directly connected to 3 units of Mosconi D2 series amplifiers, the D2 100.4 powers the high and mid frequencies. The other 2 units of D2 150.2 powers the midbass and woofer separately. These high quality class D amplifiers breaks the tradition, bringing sound quality to a whole new level with these products strictly produced in Italy. They are small in size but big in sound quality. This new breakthrough gave those with limited space a refreshing way to enjoy premium sound quality.

 

Taking the front stage is the Micro Precision Z Studio 3 way Active. These legendary speakers have the Z cone technology, which was used in World War for military radio communication because of its crystal clear reproduction. The cone remains handmade till today as it is not possible to be mass produced due to the complicated process and weather restrictions. The full component of Z Studio was fully manufactured within the area of Mr Thomas Hoffmann, located near Dusseldorf. He has a full set of CNC and laser machines assisting him to complete the production of Micro Precision with 0.001% tolerance.

Sitting on the dashboard is the Z Studio Tweeter and Midrange in a customised enclosure. The door panel was customised, but done in a perfectly OEM manner with the frame and grill replaced. The overall installation of the speakers was done very nicely as it fits the whole theme of the car design, while still upholding the sound quality position with proper protection to the speakers. Micro Precision Z Studio 245 takes care of the low frequencies in a custom ported enclosure that is secured in the trunk.

The system voltage is controlled by Brian B80A, a voltage regulator that uses high-end components to stabilise all amplifiers with the same volt input. It is made in Korea by Ariel Corporation – a high-end 12-volt electronic factory that is produced for many well-known brands.

Micro Precision RCA interconnect and speaker cables are used for this whole ride’s signal. The speaker cable is a 14 AWG copper and silver core cable, which uses the silver to bring up further details of the high frequencies. The RCA interconnect is an OFC copper cable with an exclusively designed custom plug. These cables are priced very reasonably and was even used in Germany’s radio stations. Mr Thomas Hoffmann knew the factory owner and begin testing their cables, and realised these are so much better compared to what he had used previously, which was priced must higher. Best of all, it is Made In Germany!

In the trunk when the protection base board is down, it fully covers the whole boot, enabling normal use on a daily basis, with proper woofer ported ventilation. Once the base board is taken away, a new design was born. A fully customised trunk displays the Mosconi amplifiers and processor, Micro Precision Z Studio 245 and Brian Voltage regulator.

The flawless installation was done by King’s Way Sound Garage. They have been the installer for Terence’s car since 2008 where his Honda Accord wagon ruled the competition scene in S.E. Asia. This all-new system configuration was a joint project between these two companies, and we are honoured to be listening to an incredible sound reproduction with proper staging. All details are well taken cared of – it is comfortable to listen and the music is full of dynamics. We can hear literally no sound coming out from the speakers, as all are coming directly from the windscreen when we are positioned at the driver’s seat.

With a system like this, Terence used Urive’s Hit DVR that protects the front and rear in HD-HD format, equipped with the parking mode function that takes care of the ride’s daily use.

Terence knows his stuff given the decades of experience liaising with key members of the ICE community, and this knowledge has clearly transpired to accurate results! There is plenty of tonal accuracy – the mid and highs are spot on, ensuring that songs which are catered more towards acoustic tunes are delivered in perfect proportion. There is no lack of low-end too, with distortion-free rumbles being served for bass-heavy soundtracks. It is a unique experience having to feature a car owned not by an installer or purely an ICE enthusiast, but from the man who knows the entire EMMA community inside out!

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