The shooting brake is not a popular type of car, but Wiesmann have found a way to make us love it.
This one relates to the series we did last week, as it's a sort of low-volume retro, although not a revival of an older nameplate. You may have heard of Wiesmann from its appearance on Top Gear, but it is the hardtop GT models, of which the GT MF4 is the more common, where the styling really gets bold. Just as the roadster is a sort of reimagining of the classic British roadster, the influence of cars like the MGB GT (a hardtop of the classic MGB roadster) is evident in the design of the GT MF4.
However, the MGB GT was introduced at a time when its soft top counterpart was one of the most popular sports cars in the world. The GT MF4 is a very different sort of vehicle in today's automotive world. It is a two-seat shooting brake along the lines of the BMW Z3 Coupe, but with a far more attention-grabbing design and a resemblance to little else in recent automotive history. Since the Z3 Coupe wasn't exactly what you'd call a success, this design was a brave one for Weismann to go with. The MG similarities don't end with the exterior either, the interior is a glorious tribute to near-forgotten joys of a simple and pure driving experience.
One might think that, as with the MG, all of this simplicity translates into a low price, but the GT MF4 starts at around $180,000, a bold price to go with a bold body style. But the car really is beautiful, inside and out, and Weismann has managed to find enough takers for their extremely high-end products to have stayed in business for nearly 30 years now, not bad for a boutique company. The interior is perhaps deceptively simple, just because Mercedes-Benz says that more electronic toys is the only way to make a car more luxurious, that doesn't necessarily make it so. The handmade interior is as beautiful as it is comfortable.
Wiesmann lets you pick from a long list of materials and colors when you place your order. They'll even stitch your name in place of the Wiesmann logo on the seats, if you're that particularly crass kind of vain. The company's logo is a gecko, chosen to represent how Wiesmann's cars stick to the road the way a gecko sticks to a wall. You might roll your eyes at this explanation, but Wiesmann's cars really do handle astonishingly well. In typical (or stereotypical) German fashion, they have taken every detail of the GT MF4 into account, and created a very precise piece of machinery.
Power comes from BMW's S65 V8, the same engine found in the E92 M3, only fitted with twin turbochargers and bored (like the M3 GTS and CRT) to 4.4 liters. This produces 402 horsepower, but if you like, you can option up to the GT MF5, largely identical to the GT MF4, but here the engine produces 547 hp. The transmission also comes from BMW and is a six-speed sport automatic. Weismann does offer manual transmissions, but only in their roadster models. The body is a fiberglass-reinforced composite, and the car weighs just a shade over 3,000lbs. It will hit sixty in 4.6 seconds, although paying the extra for the GT MF5 will get you there in 3.9 seconds.
It has been observed that Wiesmann's cars are surprisingly comfortable over rough road, considering how ridged they are in a turn, and this duality alone is worth quite a bit of money to enthusiasts. The car's identity is similarly dualistic. It somehow manages to be both quintessentially British and German at the same time. Mini, Rolls-Royce and Bentley all walk this line as well, but the Wiesmann is different. For some reason, it's difficult to figure out where the German ends and the British begins. This is a very expensive car, and limited production means that you'll have a difficult time getting one even if you have the money.
But cars like this are rare in every sense of the word. The Ferrari FF isn't quite the same (it has four seats, for example), and a used Z3 Coupe won't impress the way the GT MF4 will. A Morgan Aero Coupe is fairly similar (although still not actually a shooting brake), but it also costs nearly as much and has a similarly limited production. Wiesmann can charge what they do because nobody builds a car quite like this. There is no other way to say it, this is a very cool car. It is head turning without being vulgar, attracting attention by way of its elegant lines and purposeful stance.