High Spec Brake Lining

July 2nd, 2012 by Tim Grimley

Let me start this week with a little history lesson regarding a rather archaic transportation method, the shooting brake. The name has its origins in the ‘brake’ wagons, which were carriage chassis’ attached to unruly equestrians in order to break them of their wild ways. With a body added capable of carrying a hunting party and its various accoutrements, the shooting brake was born.

With the arrival of the motor vehicle, the name was taken to describe a custom built luxury vehicle adapted to suit the requirements of gentlemen off on a shoot. Diversification of purposes also saw the terms ‘estate’ and ‘station wagon’ tags attached to the style, yet the original moniker has always maintained a certain mystique. Cars that are blessed with this title have sleeker styling, more exuberant performance and a certain je ne sais quoi when compared to the more common or garden mutt transporter.

Certainly a brake from the average

And because of this, Mercedes Benz has not unveiled the CLS Station Wagon this week, but rather the CLS Shooting Brake. The Herr’s and Frau’s in Stuttgart have clearly got it in their collective heads that what they have to offer is a cut above the mob of mere station wagons available on the market.

In fairness the CLS is quite a stunning car and one could easily picture it as a bespoke hunting vehicle, commissioned by a wealthy aristocrat who found the original CLS to be a little restrictive when it came to transporting beagles and a brace of 12 gauges. And with a range which includes the BlueEfficiency 250, capable of dropping under 4.5 litres per 100km, it means you can go away for the weekend safe in the knowledge that the only damage you’ll do to nature will involve lead shot and ducks.

The air suspension standardised across the range will also provide the reassurance that no matter what you throw in the back, the car will still drive like a Mercedes Benz. Although this is a little bit pointless, because no-one who ever gets around to buying a CLS would consider putting anything in the back and risk scuffing the cherry tree decking inlaid with smoked oak that lines the rear load area.

I have complained loudly and often about manufacturers who make a supposed utility vehicle and then line the bit where you put pets, sporting equipment and other items of muddy miscellany with cream carpet so thick you could lose a small child in it. While its all very well making sure the Jones’ know that you have not only kept up, but seriously overtaken them, doing so in a way that means you have to pull out the carpet steamer every time the bichon frise needs walking is plain idiocy.

Impressive aft deck.

But a wooden deck which wouldn’t look out of place on a Caribbean yacht takes things to a whole new level. It’s every bit as impractical as carpet, because the chance of scratching will limit use to people who regularly need to transport sizeable quantities of pillows, yet due to its complete ostentatiousness this really doesn’t matter.

There is absolutely no reason why anyone would choose to line a car with wood in the same way that no-one would choose to listen to a record over a CD, write a letter rather than send an e-mail or light a fire rather than turn on a heat pump. Some things should have been consigned to the scrapheap of history a long, long time ago and yet somehow they maintain a sense of occasion that will forever defy the changing demands of time and fashion. Much like the name ‘shooting brake’ really.

Mercedes have deliberately gone down the route of cocking a snook at technology in order to offer the discerning buyer a car with a unique point of difference; for that alone it earns its spot alongside the bespoke vehicles of gentry past. And should this latest panzer wagon eventually follow the tried and true Mercedes route of finding its way into the hands of AMG, the brake may once again have some seriously wild horses to tame.

Ferrari reveals radical new FF fastback with four-wheel drive and four seats

January 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Ferrari enthusiasts have been hanging out for a replacement to the 612 Scaglietti and it has finally come in a most radical form. Taking over as Ferrari’s flagship grand tourer the new beast is named the FF, which is an acronym for Ferrari Four. The new FF is quite possibly the Italian company’s most practical-focused production model ever featuring seating and luggage space for four occupants, a new all-wheel drive system and a shooting brake body style. Only three photos have been released for now with the model scheduled for debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show with sales to follow later in the year.

Penned by famous design house Pininfarina, the FF is a large sports car measuring almost 5 meters in length and 2 meters in width. The long roofline, rear quarter styling and the car’s general proportions are classic in shape bringing to mind the legendary Ferrari 250 Breadvan. But under the sheetmetal it’s all modern and while there is no photos of the interior yet apparently the FF can take four occupants and offers 450 litres of cargo space in the hatch which expands to 800 litres with the rear seats folded down.

There is also various custom options for the FF including six model-specific exterior colors and interior trims.

It’s not just the styling that has tongues wagging with the FF introducing Ferrari’s first ever production four-wheel drive system. Named 4RM, it is said to weigh 50 percent less than other four-wheel drive systems, meaning a near perfect weight distribution of 47:53 has been maintained.

Under the long bonnet the FF is powered by a brand new 6.3-litre V12 engine with a direct injection set up and Ferrari’s HELE tech including a stop/start system. The 12-cylinder motor delivers 492kW at 8,000 rpm and comes mated to a dual-clutch F1 gearbox. In terms of performance Ferrari claims the FF can sprint from 0-100km/h in just 3.7 seconds and push on to a 335 km/h top speed, while returning a combined fuel economy of 15.4 l/100km. Continue reading “Ferrari reveals radical new FF fastback with four-wheel drive and four seats” »

It’s official – Mercedes Benz to build CLS Shooting Brake

November 9th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Mercedes-Benz has now officially confirmed rumours that its CLS Shooting Brake concept, is heading into production. First shown in China earlier this year, the shooting brake model with the sloping tail end will use the same platform as the second generation CLS sedan and will go to market in 2012.

The CLS Shooting Brake will be built at the Mercedes-Benz Plant Sindelfingen on the same production line as the CLS and the E-Class Sedan.

Very little info on the new model has been officially released but it’s safe to assume that the Shooting Brake model will more or less carry the same lineup of gasoline and diesel engines as the new CLS sedan. The CLS Shooting Brake range should also include a flagship AMG model powered by Mercedes’ new 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 pumping out at least 536-horsepower.

Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Cars made the big announcement and said, “The CLS still makes waves with its fascinating design and wows customers for our brand. With the new generation of the CLS we expand our pioneering role in this segment. We aim to extend this success story with the CLS Shooting Brake and complement our product portfolio with another appealing model. This car is based on the great tradition of a stylish, cultivated sportiness which has always characterised 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.”

The production version of the CLS Shooting Brake will most likely make its world premiere at a major motorshow event either late next year or early 2012.

2011 Mercedes-Benz CLS Shooting Brake

December 22nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mercedes Concept Fascination fq2

According to the German press, Daimler is working hard on the 2011 Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake which will be produced in Sindelfingen, Germany. The Shooting Brake will be based on the next generation CLS four-door coupe which will be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show next year. It will have a larger cargo area and will enter the same market segment as the Audi A7 and the BMW 5 Series GT.

The exterior design of the 2011 Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake should have a likeness to the Mercedes ConceptFascination unveiled at the 2008 Paris Motor Show.

As far as the engine options go, the 2011 Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake will offer the exact same units as the coupe version of the CLS. An AMG version is also expected.

Bentley working on cheaper models

November 26th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Bentley working on cheaper models

Bentley has just replaced the elderly Arnage with the new Mulsanne, which in turn should mean replacements for the Brooklands and Azure. A new Continental range is also on the way as well. But according to recent reports, the team from Crewe isn’t content simply replacing existing models they want something new. And they are looking at going downmarket with two new niche models.

Known only as the New Compact Bentley (NCB) project, the luxury automaker hopes to gain entry in the $110-130,000 USD range in two forms: a three-door shooting brake and strangely a crossover vehicle.

Platform underpinnings for both would reportedly be based loosely on the next-gen Audi A6/A7 flexible architecture and powered by an Audi-based 4.5-litre twin-turbo V8 putting out around 550 horsepower through all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Production would apparently be around 7500 units annually, but Bentley might find a challenger in this new crossover segment, as Rolls-Royce is said to be working on a Ghost-based crossover of its own.

Mercedes considering production E-Class shooting brake

June 5th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Mercedes E-class concept fq

Body-styles for the Mercedes E-Class range have been mixed and matched these past few years. Originally including sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible variants. Then the coupe and drop-top were split off as the CLK, now Mercedes has decided to bring the two-door variants back into the fold for the current generation. Now, Mercedes are going even further and could be planning yet another body-style for the E-Class range – a three-door shooting brake.

What’s a shooting brake? A shooting brake is an old-school body-style that blends a station wagon with a coupe, usually such novel solutions have required the services of a coachbuilder to turn a sedan or a coupe into a wagon. And with the German carmakers competing hard with segment-busting body-styles, Mercedes is ready to take things one step further. The prospect looks even more likely considering that the current E-Class’ design was previewed in the first place by a shooting brake show car called the Concept Fascination at last year’s Paris Motor Show.

If the shooting brake gets the green light, it’d likely carry over the mechanicals and engine options from its two-door brothers, including four, six and eight-cylinder gasoline and diesel powerplants. A production prototype could be seen as early as the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, so check back.

Car designations explained: the European influence

November 15th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

There’s nothing like using the motherland’s terminology to make your car sound like it’s got more class. Of course, you’ll never drive an Aston Martin Black Pudding, but harking back to the gentlemanly days can give a marque some extra kudos.

Shooting-brake (or shooting-break, depending on which country you’re in)

In the 1800s and through to the early 1900s a brake was a type of open-topped horse-drawn carriage of any size designed for hunting. It was designed to carry the driver and a gamekeeper at the front and several sportsmen with guns in the back. Dogs, guns and game were carried alongside in raks. While this sounds like it could have morphed into a mafia-style limo, it’s more commonly used to describe a station wagon, or estate-type of car.

Aston Martin are particularly fond of the term (DB5, DB6, Virage, Vantage, Lagonda and DBS all had the term applied), and it’s been resurrected recently by Audi for a couple of concept cars. Ferrari, Porsche, Volvo, Bentley and even Lamborghini have produced concepts or production cars. Although, anyone trying to shoot a pheasant while hanging out of the side of a Lamborghini would need heat-guided missiles.

Many of the concepts started to look like stylistic hearses. www.shooting-brake.com has a number of images.

Drophead coupe (or drophead coupe)

Basically, it’s a convertible (or cabriolet in British English). The name applies to both cars with a retractable hardtop roof, or a soft folding top. The concept behind a ‘convertible’ was that you could ‘convert’ your open-topped car into one that had a roof. British manufacturers tend to use the designation with Aston Martin (DB2/4 Drophead Coupe), Bentley (Arnage Drophead Coupe) and Daimler Double-Six 50 Sport Corsica Drophead Coupe). Rolls-Royce released its 2008 Phantom Drophead Coupe at the January 2007 Detroit North American International Auto Show.

Fixed head coupe

It’s the opposite of a drophead coupe. A coupe with a fixed roof, the term was mainly used by British manufacturers such as Jaguar (e.g. XK150, E-Type) well as Rolls-Royce (e.g. Corniche), Aston Martin (e.g. DB3S), TVR (e.g. Tasmin 280i), and Bentley (e.g. Mark VI Park Ward).

GT

Standing for Grand Tourer (or Gran Turismo in Italian), GT means it’s a high performance car with the comforts required for long distance driving. They’re usually larger and heavier than sports cars and mostly have their engine at the front. While outright power and acceleration of GT cars can match some sports cars, softer suspension and a heavier body often means on the track they’re left in the dust. Examples include pretty much the whole Aston Martin range, Ferrari 599 GTB, Jaguar XJS, Maserati GranTurismo, and the Mercedes SLR McLaren. The Porsche Carrera GT is not really a GT car — more of a supercar or hypercar.

So, as long as it sells cars, car manufacturers will continue to evoke the images of a halcyon yesteryear.

Words Darren Cottingham