A certain motor industry skepticism greets the news that VW are to launch their new Passat Alltrack in July 2012.
But the fact is that these so called soft–roaders sell.
And if you want to make sense of the sort of thinking which leads manufacturers into designing and building these seemingly impossibly niche vehicles, then look only to the success of the MINI Countryman.
And upon launching the Countryman a coupe version was immediately put into development.
Never has a car been more gender-bending.
And no doubt VW have one eye on the success of the Audi A6 Allroad. And also more indirectly on the success of the BMW X6, which demonstrates consumer appetite for unusual off-road vehicles.
So what sort of features does the new Passat Alltrack bring to market?
The car offers a stainless steel-look underbody skid plates front and rear, plus black plastic cladding around the wheelarches and sills - stretching the visual stance - while matt chrome adorns the roof rails, window surrounds and door mirrors.
Another car with an eye on the succes of the A6 is Jaguar whose latest development is an estate version of the successful XF. This will be only the second ever estate vehicle.
And indeed it does somehow seem rather difficult to conceive of a Jaguar estate. This is irrational of course. Perhaps there’s something in the Jaguar brand which is at odds with the carriage of luggage, or children.
The Jaguar XF however addresses its task by way of the sort of inovative sporting design we have some to expect from the smaller Jaguars, as they muscle into market territory traditonally occupied by manufacturers such as BMW and Audi.
And further evidence of Jaguar’s ambitions in this sector comes from its recent introduction of the 2.2 litre diesel variant of the XJ, which pushes the car out into the company car sector.
But even in its development guise the XJ is extremely good looking.The Sportbrakes will appear late in 2012 and will rival the BMW 5-series Touring, Audi A6 Avant and Mercedes E-class estate.