By Andrew Ganz
Friday, May 21st, 2010 @ 12:00 pm
 
BMW is readying a variant of its Gran Coupe Concept that will offer expanded cargo space for the European market. The 6 Series Gran Turismo Shooting Brake hasn't been green lighted for production, but the German automaker is in the midst of creating a shapely concept car for design and market evaluation.



An inside source has confirmed that our illustration is spot on in its accuracy and Leftlane anticipates that the Gran Turismo Shooting Brake will debut later this year at the Paris Motor Show. Our source tells us that the Gran Turismo Shooting Brake Concept will be more functional than the Gran Coupe Concept that debuted last month in Beijing.

That Gran Coupe Concept has been given the thumbs up for production; it will usher in a whole lineup of style-oriented 6 Series models, including a two-door, a cabriolet - and, of course, the four-door Gran Coupe. The Gran Turismo Shooting Brake is designed to test out the feasibility of a "GT" version of the 6 Series.

Think of the 6 Series Gran Turismo Shooting Brake as a higher capacity, more expressively-styled offering to complement the 5 Series Gran Turismo. The Shooting Brake would be viewed as a more upscale alternative to the automaker's traditional X5 and controversial X6. It could also provide BMW with a higher volume sporty cargo hauler now that the 5-Series wagon has been crossed off of the North American product lineup.

Pronounced style
The BMW face, modified by design chief Adrian van Hooydonk, will feature intricate projector headlamps with BMW's signature halo glow and eyebrow effect. Move to the Gran Turismo Shooting Brake's side profile and you'll find some Chris Bangle-esque flame surfacing, which BMW deems more appropriate in this highly-stylized concept car than in its bread-and-butter 3 and 5 Series sedans. In true Shooting Brake fashion, the rear features an X5-like split tailgate with a large window flap for easy access and a downward-folding lower portion that doubles as a seating area.

Look for a full panoramic glass roof, large twin-spoke alloy wheels and the same visual details found on the Gran Coupe Concept - but with some distinguishing features of its own.

Despite its name, the Shooting Brake concept is actually expected to feature four side doors, rather than two. Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz pushed the limits with its Shooting Break concept car, which modified the traditional spelling - and interpretation - of the term. Unlike a standard wagon, the BMW Gran Turismo Shooting Brake's sloping roofline will inevitably curb some cargo hauling capacity - but that should be no major issue to BMW owners who value the look and marginally increased storage space over a 5 Series GT.

Future of the wagon
Naturally, the Gran Turismo Shooting Brake makes the future of the traditional station wagon worth questioning. Slotting in above the current F11-code 5 Series wagon, the Shooting Brake is obviously intended for a well-heeled customer who might be transitioning out of an SUV - say, BMW's former Range Rover brand.

Yet we've already questioned the 5 Series GT's sportiness; it hustles well for its weight, but it doesn't quite stir the driving soul like BMW's much more conservative standard 5 Series. In an ideal world, the 5 Series wagon could be aimed at the company's traditional enthusiasts outside of North America, as well as its commercial users in Europe, who embrace it for its taxi practicality. The 5 Series GT would suffice as a wagon-esque offering in North America, while the 6 Series Shooting Brake could pamper the wealthy demographic BMW covets. BMW's SAVs - its Sports Activity Vehicles - like the X5 and X6 would continue to be aimed at family buyers (X5) and upwardly-mobile young couples and empty nesters who appreciate a high seating position (X6).

But is this "one BMW for every possible need" spreading the lineup too thin, forcing large margins and lower individual line volumes in order to keep raking in profits? Only time will tell.