Blog: Dave LeggettI say Jeeves, get the shooting brake

Dave Leggett | 25 February 2007

If a vehicle maker has a hit on its hands, rivals take note. BMW has been very successful in reinventing the Mini as a premium brand sporty small(ish) car. In the process it has created a new market segment that other makers will obviously want to consider, even if the Mini brand itself is rather a unique proposition.

The styling of the Suzuki Swift, for example, looks more than a little Mini influenced, but Suzuki isn’t exactly a prestige brand. The small Suzuki could be testing the market out there for a slightly cheaper Mini (though the high-spec Swift Sport is close in price to a Mini Cooper).

Do you remember the Audi ‘TT Shooting Brake’ concept shown at the Tokyo Show in 2005? It had a slightly aggressive, sporty stance and looked like the basis for a BMW 1-Series fighter to me.

It sounds like elements of the TT Shooting Brake’s styling will be incorporated into the upcoming small Audi – dubbed A1. That car, you’ll recall, is going to be built in VW’s Brussels plant from 2009 – most likely on the Polo platform.

It will be a small, sporty hatchback (‘supermini coupe’) and it will be distinctive in its styling. And there will be a premium badge allied to that giant Audi grille.

I guess Audi won’t repeat the mistakes that made the Audi A2 way too costly to build, but continuing to flirt with the small car end of the market carries risks. The Mini works for BMW because it is a separate brand with separate values. It hits a different customer base to that of the BMW 1-Series. A small Audi that tries to appeal to both of these customer groups may appeal to neither. Even worse, what if it takes sales away from other VW Group brands?

Tough brief for the designers and product planners at Audi. But the TT Shooting Brake did look cool. Even better if they could retain that daft name with its associations of English aristocrats out on the estate for a shoot. Thinking about it though, maybe building a TT sub-brand isn’t a bad idea.

UK: Mini rival to fuel Audi growth


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