29 Jun 2012

What is a Shooting Brake?

In 1982 my parents took me on holiday to Canada.  We stayed with relatives in rural Ontario.  They owned a car that they called a Shooting Brake - or Brake for short.

The car was a Lincoln Continental Country Squire (picture below).  Ever since then I always believed Shooting Brake to be a stateside phrase but it turns out I was wrong.  In fact the phrase Shooting Brake originated in England in the 1800's and was a vehicle used for carrying weapons and equipment during a sporting shoot.

The term came to mean a sporty, or 3 door, estate car.

And now the Shooting Brake has been revived.  Two new Brakes have recently been released.  The Jaguar XF Sports Brake and the Mercedes CLS Shooting Brake.  Both have sporty looks and a roofline that rakes towards the rear.

Their base cars are both coupe-like saloons but Jaguar and Mercedes know they are missing a trick in not offering their cars without a hatchback boot.  Essentially they are trying to tap into the country set who require an estate for the dogs and kids but don't want to be seen in a wallowy old E-type or a poky little X-type estate.

But for all their pretensions a car already exists to fit that niche - and it's got four wheel drive which is handy for parking in the field at Glyndbourne.  That car is the Subaru Outback and it's very good.  I know because I've owned two in the past.  I have yet to drive the Jag or the Mercedes but they have a lot to live up to if they want to become the new must-have estate for the modern country gentleman.