Any enthusiast with a very good memory might have felt that they’d seen the new Audi Shooting Brake concept somewhere before. And they’d be right.
But by January of 2007, Audi bosses ruled out the Shooting Brake going into production. Excuses about the baby estate ‘cannibalising’ sales of the second-generation TT probably disguised the fact that Audi bosses felt the car was a step too far. But nearly nine years later, the re-appearance of the concept – again a thinly disguised new-generation TT – suggests Audi is about to give the idea the green light. Probably.
But there’s something odd about this ‘long-roof and hatchback’ coupe format that is hard make add up. In 1968, the Reliant Scimitar morphed from a clunky coupé into a four-seat tourer that was both elegant and had very useful seats-down luggage capacity. It was a very influential piece of (British) styling.
Okay, the Scimitar sold in small numbers, but it influenced models from mainstream makers, such as the elegant 1972 Volvo P1800 and 1975 Lancia Beta HPE. Indeed, the P1800 directly inspired Volvo’s neat C30, which was intended to have the same upmarket appeal – coupe style with decent internal space - but it was seen as a three-door Volkswagen Golf and sold in three-door Golf numbers.
Stylists and marketeers love the Shooting Brake/Coupé format. The new Volvo XC90 concept, which is at the Detroit motor show, is rendered as a three-door off-road coupé. A bit like the original Range Rover, perhaps.
And think of all the bespoke shooting brake conversions we seen over the years such as the Lynx Eventer and various Aston Martin DB5 one-offs. We’ve seen a couple of modern Aston shooting brake concepts, but I wouldn’t bet on one finding its way into production.
Maybe Mercedes-Benz has solved the problem with the CLS estate. This was originally shown as ConceptFascination, a three door that looked like a hatchback coupé. The real car retained the dramatic roofline and side window graphic but had five doors.
I’d like to think Audi will have a go at producing a proper ‘HPE’ model, but I bet Audi’s number crunchers have been staring at the Excel sheets for quite a while with this latest proposal.